Ohio is far from the only state in the US to have a city named “Athens.” In fact, there are 21 other states with cities or counties of the same namesake.
Athens Voices USA presents an opportunity for the artists of these different cities with the same name to come together and share their work. This Friday, 50 artists from seven different states will convene at the Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Lane, in Athens for the biennial exhibition.
The exhibition hasn’t always been open to other Athens communities, however. When the exhibition first debuted in 2003, it was a local exhibition only for artists of Athens, Ohio. Six years ago, that changed. The decision was made to open up the exhibition to artists within 30 miles of any Athens community in the country and the name was changed to Athens Voices USA.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: •Athens Voices USA
WHEN: •Opening reception 5-8 p.m. Friday, exhibition open to public from January 19th to March 16th
WHERE: the Dairy Barn Arts Center, •8000 Dairy Ln
There, artists will be judged by a panel of three professors. The jurors will determine five awards, with the sixth and final award being decided by the audience. Four of the awards come with a certain amount of prize money.
One of these jurors is Karla Hackenmiller, a professor of printmaking and the director of the School of Art and Design for Ohio University.
“Serving as one of the jurors for the Athens Voices has been a rewarding experience, and I appreciate the invitation to participate,” Hackenmiller stated in an email. “The Dairy Barn Art Center is a special place, and I have been fortunate to see it continue to develop as a vibrant cultural institution in our region.”
Holly Ittel is the Quilt National and Exhibitions Director at the Dairy Barn Arts Center. Holding the position for a little over a year, she is responsible for all exhibitions at the Dairy Barn.
“We find it is important for the jury to be able to discuss the merits, craftsmanship, and concept of works together versus the exhibit being selected based solely on a number ranking system,” Ittel stated in an email.
Of course, this exhibition would be nothing if it were not for the artists contributing. A wide array of media are shown, such as installations, paintings, photography, ceramic works, performance works and woodworking.
One such artist is Mary Chamberlain, who has been painting for Athens Voices and for The Dairy Barn’s OH+5 exhibitions for several years. As OH+5 takes place biennially on years with no Athens Voices, Chamberlain participates in a Dairy Barn exhibition each year.
“I’m kind of known in town for painting houses,” Chamberlain said. “I like all the old houses around town, so I’ve done quite a few of them. And so this year, it’ll be different. I’m doing beach umbrellas. I’ve travelled a bit this year and taken pictures from other places, but my standard is all the neat old houses in town.”
Chamberlain also says that the exhibition provides a good opportunity for herself and her fellow artists to gain exposure and sell their work. During the exhibition, the artists can put additional, smaller works in the gallery shop. This can potentially provide a good source for some additional revenue, even if the artists don’t win any of the awards.
“We are so proud to exhibit local art and work for artists outside of the Athens, Ohio community!” Ittel stated in an email. “It is important for us to display work in our community and beyond. I hope this exhibition continues so we can exhibit work by many of the same artists and also display work from many new artists!”