Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Riff Raff

No, not that Riff Raff!

This Riff Raff:

Walking on Canal Street, one can’t help but notice that old empty building next to Southern Belle. There are these signs in the window, and they’ve been there awhile….
There is a website, that talks about a live music venue specializing in blues and jazz.

So, Riff Raff Tavern on the Canal. Sounds great: Canal Street developing into a little nightlife district

Yet, looking in the windows, not much has been done. Spring 2008 opening?

Anyone familiar with this project? Is it real or dead?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Alternative/Indy Dayton

Going out to shows, I was noticing these urls for a bands MySpace page on CDs and flyers.

So that introduced me to the MySpace Music site, which is sort of a band/musician/venue network. And that opened a bit of a window on local alternative culture, something I wasn’t aware that was happening,..

Houses and a Performance Space

One thing I’ve noticed via MySpace is that the local music scene isn’t limited to bars. There are also these “house” venues, were people put on little live music shows in houses where they live, invite their friends and others. Some of the places have names, like The Birdbath (near Woodland Cemetery) and The Sandbox (someplace in South Park), and seem pretty ephemeral.

An example is the Acid Fever House, in a nondescript East Dayton neighborhood.

This house has been putting out those little microflyers every so often for their shows, so probably not that obscure

In a way this is a reminder that there was a very obscure punk scene in East Dayton back in the late '80s and very early '90s (there even was a punk club, "Building Loung" I think).

Then there is the Dayton Dirt Collective, which is trying to set up an all-ages peformance space of some sort…they list the famous Gilman Street space as an influence. They are doing house shows as benefits but also at places like Cornerstone:

Here are two non-music things. A MySpace presence, but not sure how active they are.

Food Not Bombs.

I’ve heard of them before, the national movement, probably via some left wing mags or ‘zines.. Though national it’s made up of local groups, very decentralized and DiY. Apparently a Dayton group is or was doing stuff, which means collecting food and feeding the homeless.

Really Really Free Market.

What it says. I think these folks hold the free market in vacant lots on the east side. There is a bit of an anarchist influence here, perhaps…wiki says this is also a national movement, too, like Food not Bomb, but concentrated in Carolina.

All we need now is some sort of indymedia thing or an infoshop.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Olmstead Landscape System

The DDN reports today on a landscape restoration plan for Hills & Dales.

A $4 million restoration project at the 297-acre Hills and Dales MetroPark in Kettering aims to recreate the look of the landscape when the park was a gift from John Patterson, co-founder of National Cash Register.

Nowadays the “park” seems like merely a big golf course with landscaped fringes. The original idea was much more ambitious.

Patterson, along with fellow industrialiss Deeds and Kettering contracted with the Olmstead firm of Boston, Mass to landscape their adjoining properties.

The intention apparently was to create an interlocking landscape system in the hill country west of Far Hills, extending from the Dayton Country Club to Rahn & Alex-Bell Roads, with a parkway (Southern Boulevard) as a connecting feature. Adjacent subdivisions estates and parks (Houk Stream)may also have designed by the Olmstead firm.

This systemic approach was akin the previous Olmstead work, such as the Emerald Necklace in Boston (though that was an urban scheme and this one rural/suburban

The northern part was developed as Hills & Dales Park and parts of Oakwood & Kettering.

The southern part was never completely developed, though parts became the NCR and Moraine Country Clubs and the Deeds estate.

The interesting thing about Hills & Dales was that it was originally twice its current size, extending south of Dorothy Land. And there were little side-parkways that connected the main body of the park to Far Hills Avenue.

Only the northern part was the gifted to the city. The southern part was later subdivided for housing.

An interesting feature was that there was a branch of the interurban line running to the park, and extending down Southern Boulevard (possibly why Southern is so wide). This is shown in the above map in red.

The idea was to improve access from the city, but with heavy auto usee cars were banned, and the park was only accessible via train.

Subsequent developement disrupted the system, and it was never completed. Enough survives, though, to give Dayton a greenbelt of estates, parks, and golf courses extending south of the city.

Vignettes from the Olmstead landscape system:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blogroll Adds

For the New Year, some revisions on the blogroll. "Burying" dead blogs, and some ads (and these are not all blogs).

One of the points of the blogroll was to feature city, "city culture" or urbanist blogs on Dayton.

As there are very few local blogs of this type most of these adds deal with local art/music/creative things, plus a house blog and two local history websites.

A beef is there is no really comprehensive page for live music. I’ve added “Dayton Shows” as it has a good indy angle, but even they miss a few. One can following Myspace Music, but there isn’t a good aggregator page yet for all the myspace show notes on individual band and venue pages

Defunct or Presumed Dead
(no posts for months, or the owner has closed the site)

To Dayton From Cincinnati

Oracle of Dayton

Photos From the Streets of Dayton


(stained glass artist who links to Daytonology)(stained glass aint just for church windows anymore)

J.R Locke
(musician/writer who posts a lot at Esrati, apparenty has just moved to the east side)

JafaBrit’s Art
(Yellow Springs artist, part of the jafaGirl group)

Circus Creative Collective
(news and blogs from the new arts group putting on shows and such)

Slidertown Webazine
(personal website on South Park and Seely’s Ditch by a South Parker)

Dayton History Books Online
(Craig Dalton’s resource site, with an online forum for Dayton history questions)(Craig Dalton is one of the great documenters and popularizers of local history, with his series of books on the populist side of history, such as histories of local breweries and drive-ins)

This Old Crack House
(house blog on the restoration of the old Edgar place up in Walnut Hills, one of Dayton’s neighborhood farmhouses)(one is just overwhelmed by what goes into house restoration after following this blog).

Dayton Bands
(myspace page that is a list of mostly indy/oringinal bands playing Dayton)(still not that comprehensive as one would like, but it’s a start).

Downtown: Not Dead Yet.

More proof that downtown might have bottomed-out.

Dayton Most Metro contributor Metromark reports on things cooking:

Some of this was in the media, like the Friends to Save the Arcade changing their name (slightly) and focus to preserving the public spaces of the Arcade, like the dome, and the re-opening of the McCrory building (with ground floor retail!)

The other news is the possibility of a residential redevelopment of the Fidelity Building at 4th and Main for condos, and a downtown supermarket, perhaps in the old Dayton Daily News annex.

Downtown is already able to support a convenience market (on 3rd, next door to the Arcade) with current population and foot traffic.

If there’s enough residential downtown one can easily see a neighborhood grocery in the heart of Dayton. Not a large suburban big box but more like the smaller urban supers one used to see throughout Dayton and other cities, maybe more Trader Joe’s scale.

All of this is being facilitated by Robert Shiffler, who is becoming the great benefactor of downtown, especially if he manages execute an Arcade revival (this is not a done deal yet as the current owner is still holding out). One has to admire what Shiffler is doing for downtown, stepping in where others in the local real-estate/development community fear to tread

Though Shiffler came to yer humble hosts attention via his downtown renovation work(“who is this guy?!?”), he is apparently a major collector of postwar modern art, of the more avant garde variety.

Check out Bob’s Art. Neat stuff!

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Bommy's Place": Old Dayton View

Surfing through the Lutzenberger Collection one wonders sometimes "where is this (or more typically, "where was this"?)

Such was it with Bommy's Place.

One suspects that Lutzenberger might have been a "wet" since he did include taverns and hangouts on occasion in his photos. This apparently was a Dayton View landmark saloon, and according the caption had "excellent" sandwiches (maybe it was a free lunch place?).

But were was it?

The description and the river in the background give it away. This was on Riverview between Salem and the Dayton View bridge, but on the river side.

Here is the map, and the "find" here is that Bommy's was part of a little neighborhood shopping district, that also included the Riverside Brewery of Adam Schantz (1882) and a line of row houses! All of this backed up to the river.

Across River Street were what look like some Victorian villas and maybe a few houses from early Dayton View (that corellate with the 1869 map). And one can see that Van Ausdal mansion.

The character of this area has drastically changed with time:

Note the bench. According the Craig Daltons book on Dayton breweries:


The Riverside Brewery, as well as a small house where Adam Schantz, Jr. was born, was situated on the ground which needed to be cleared and removed to improve the river channel. This meant the razing of both structures. A large piece of land was left between the river and the street. The heirs of Adam Schantz, Sr. donated this to the city of Dayton in December, 1918. A fountain with a lily was built in memory of Mary Schantz, their mother, and an oak tree was planted nearby in memory of Adam Schantz, Sr., their father. Although the lilies are gone and the fountain runs no longer, the benches that are part of the fountain still overlook the beautiful Miami River, and couples who sit there are shaded by the old oak tree whose branches reach over as if to shelter the monument to his wife from the storms."

No oak nor fountain, but maybe this is one of those benches.

Grafton Hill's Oldest

Grafton Hill seems pretty “new” architecturally, particularly the better known part of the neighborhood around Stoddard Circle. But there is this house on Central that looks quite old. It has the trad I-house form, with an L rear, but not set with the gable end to the street, the way most are in Dayton.
So lets use it as an armature around which to discuss a bit of neighborhood development.

Here is a map of some features of early Grafton Hill, mostly before the Civil War. The first bridge in Dayton was the Dayton View bridge: there has been a river crossing on this site since the early 1800s.

The bridge drove road alignments as shortcuts. Tate’s Mill Road is a good example, breaking off the Covington Pike (Main Street) & gaining the river at the mill at the head of Steele’s Race, then angling around the base of Steele Hill to reach the bridgehead.

Steele's hill was a popular community picnic ground due to the view over the river to Dayton town.

Tate's Mill Road was eventually renamed Forest Avenue.

As this was a good location for a bridgehead settlement there was at reportedly at least one aborted town plat (“Pierceton”) in the vicinity, then some large lots laid out west of Salem. The first surviving Grafton Hill town lot plat apparently was by John Steele in 1847.

By the end of the 1860s the area had developed into an area called Dayton View, which at that time meant the area mostly east of Salem. Nothing was developed east of the bridge.

A map of the plat history (one can see how “Grafton Hill” developed as two neighborhoods mostly separated by the Van Ausdal property, which was subdivided in 1910-12.

The black line on the map was an early horse car line, the second in the city, which connectd the 1869 "Dayton View" plats to the city, and then extended on to Oakwood.

One can assume replatting over time, but the old house sits on that 1847 plat. So 1847,48 as the oldest date, perhaps.
Grafton Hill in 1869, the year the elite Central and Superior “Dayton View” plats were made. A small bridgehead community is visible, as is a brewery, and a scattering of houses on “Low’s Lots”.

One can also see property lines driven by the US rectangular coordinate survey quarter sections, but also some survey lines derived from the river and roads

The old house again, with the rear L slightly visible. Some decorative shutters have been removed exposing the red brick under the whitewash. The central chimney seems to indicate this is a “double pen I house’ without a central hall; two rooms side-by-side, sharing a central chimney. A common vernacular style in the Ohio Valley (a bit more in Kentucky than here, though).

The 1869 map again, enlarged and the likely house circled. There is a little inset view of the Dayton View covered bridge (probably not the original one) and the river in flood, from the Lutzenberger collection. My guess at the camera location is that little red arrow.

And the Lutzenberger pix. The house circled. The Van Ausdal mansion is probably the house just to the right
And to verify. A side elevation with identical fenestration and chimney arrangement as the blow-up in the inset. Wood frame extension probably happened later

So, the oldest house in Grafton Hill, perhaps from before the Civil War, appearing on maps and pix from the 19th century and surviving against all odds down to our era. One of the enjoyable things about doing neighborhood history is finding these old survivors still on-site.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Get Midwest/Be Midwest

The new regional brand is a hot topic at Dayton Most Metro, Esrati, and even at Ellen Belcher's DDN Blog. Daytonology explores getting Midwestern via pix from (mostly) Google:

What the Dayton Development Coalition (brand sponsor) might be thinking...

Indy/alt. culture & the Creative Class get Midwestern....

Getting Midwestern in Jefferson Township....
Sugarcreek Gothic
The models and background for "the American Mona Lisa"

Dayton Gothic.

...leading to thoughts on Midwest regionalism as expressed in city-typology, urban space, and vernacular architecture. Perhaps explored in a future post.

Magic Realism at DVAC

A particularly good show at DVAC this month. "Figurative Fictions", three painters from up in Lansing (I think they teach at MSU).

The tendancy in US art prior to WWII was toward realism of various types. Genres like "The Ash Can School" prior to WWI and "American Scene" of the 1930s.

After WWII came pure abstraction via Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Color Field, but one saw the return of realism via Pop Art.

This show is maybe more an artistic version of the literary "Magical Realism" movment, maybe a bit lighter and open ended (though one see's a bit of surrealism in Benjamin Duke's work). Yet in the works of Robert McCann there is a vague theme of repression.

Robert McCann also has this clean, calm style, perhaps a bit Quattrocento, but also a bit like George Tooker.
(Inventing the Wheel, Paul McCann)

Benjamin Duke has a more expresionist, painterly approach with these tableaus, building the image with expressive brush storkes and with the dynamic composition.
(Actant #2, Benjamin Duke)

There was also the work of Teresa Dunn, who had a similar technique as Duke, but perhaps less surreal. Dunn and Duke remind me a bit of Eric Fischl's work.

All of these artists' subject matter is open to interpretation. Something is happening but what that somehting is is not obvious, so the work is open ended: one brings ones own interpretation to the narrative.

To see the full set of paintings shown follow the link to DVAC's Online Gallery.
Online is nice, but to fully experience the work, which is quite large in some cases, one must visit the gallery in real time: BYOB (bring your own body)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I (Still) Hate Pink

Dayton's visual arts used to be pretty invisible, but more and more happening, more venues, more shows. Things are stirring. And this is an example:

I Still Hate Pink is on Saturday at a space at Front Street, not the Goloka Gallery, but one upstairs in one of the buildings closer to 2nd.

An all-women art show featuring Dayton women artists.

I Still Hate Pink…A guy at that Pacchia coffeshop saw me reading this flyer, said he knew of the show, think he said he knew the people running the gallery.

Said there was an earlier show “I Hate Pink”, thus “I Still Hate Pink” for this one.

I recognize two artists on this list. Amy Kollar Anderson and Kidee Hello. So I'm curious about the others' work.

More on the gallery at the C2 Open Studio Myspace Page

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cold Nights/Hot Music + A Mellow Sunday Night

When the weather is cold and snowy I really like going out to some bar and listen to a few bands. Very gemutlich.

The show was called “Winter Dance”, but for me it was “Cincinnati Night” at the OE last Saturday, which is turning into one of the best evenings for original live music. Since we are living in “Daytonnati” one can expect some interaction between the two scenes, and Columbus.

Finishing up the weekend by mellowing down easy at Canal Street Tavern with a Sunday night singer/songwriter.

Oregon Express

I missed the opener (The Give-Ups) and closer (Goody Two-Shoes), so saw these two Cincy acts.

Turnbull AC's Interesting, but didn’t really grab me that much. Meltones over at the Bhudda Den had a good review, though.

OE is becoming a Dayton "Cavern Club" (becausse it feels like a tight, intimate basement bar, particularly closer to the stage) good place to hear young, energetic rock acts playing original tunes.
(incidentally there was a basement music venue in Dayton in the very late 80s, where the Cafe Boulevard is now)
And a good example are The Lions Rampant. Now this group was right up my alley. Remember the Professors? Lions Rampant are very similar but maybe a bit more updated. One of the best shows I’ve seen in some time. They did a mix of covers and originals (closing with “Gloria” was a good touch)

Good craic at the Oregon Express. .

Canal Street Tavern

Sunday night. From Bowling Green, Luke James. Came late, missed the opener, but this fellow is a pretty good singer-songwriter were I can’t play the “sounds like” game. Entertaining and personable stage presence. Just really a good show for a Sunday night.

Yer humble host recommends:

Thursday: If you can make it, Canal Street Tavern, on Thursday, will have a very good alt country group up from Cincy... The Hiders , opener the well-known local music guy Joel Andrel, who got some attention with his "Dayton is a Freind to Me" song. Also on the bill is Frontier Folk Nebraska (who are not Nebraskans but from Northern KY).

This weekend: Dry Branch Fire Squad. Opener Anne & Phil Case.

A must-see for trad fans. What more can be said about DBFS? They are such fun! This is one of our areas musical exports; probably better known, appreciated and loved outside the area than within They tour a lot. But they do return to CST for a wonderful winter concert every year.

Anne & Phil Case are based out of Germantown and are a fitting opener, doing old timey songs and duets from the appalachian trad/string band, parlor song, and spiritual traditions that preceded modern country and bluegrass. In that they are akin somewhat to Norman and Nancy Blake, but have a local spin on their music, including setting an early Dayton gallows oration to music.