Downtown isn't the only spot locally with a vibrant
arts scene - Yunessi originals, whimsical images by
David Schluss, and pa intings by England's most-collected
living artist, Simon Bull, are now displayed in grand
style at the newly opened Centerville Creative Arts
Much like the gallery's owner, Kee Hee Lee, the contemporary
artworks gracing the walls inside the elegant two-story
structure are vibrant, energetic, and emanate a sense
of joy. In addition to internationally renowned artists'
works in the main gallery, the 9,000-square-foot building
also features pastels in an upstairs gallery and traditional
oils in the basement, along with a healthy lineup
of work by Dayton-area artists.
"You won't find another gallery that has a better
selection. I go to six or seven international shows
every year, get an exhibitor's pass and go the day
before the show. Then I have the privilege to choose
the best pieces," said Kee Hee.
She is on a first-name basis with many of the artists
with whom she deals. She has rubbed shoulders with
them at the New York Art Expo, where she has exhibited
her own Chinese brush paintings for the past three
years. She used her connections to entice Simon Bull
to come to Dayton for the grand opening in June as
the featured artist. Bull is known for his rich, vibrant
floral and abstract designs.
"We had a wonderful three-weekend event. The
first weekend we had the Simon Bull show. He did the
art demonstrations, and people lined up to see him,"
said Kee Hee.
It's the multiple sales of premiere artworks in this
area that have art collectors in major metropolitan
areas like New York and Chicago perplexed. Wherever
she goes, she's asked the same question: 'How do you
sell these in Dayton, Ohio?'
"They think only big-city people buy expensive
artwork. But when you pay $2 million for a house in
New York, you get a three-room condo. Here, you pay
$2 million and get a 15,000-square-foot home. So I
have a better market right here," she says.
There's also a market here for art instruction and
local/regional artworks. The fine art school that
was operated out of the Wind Fine Art Gallery next
door has been moved to the second floor of the CCAC.
The expansion has produced six classrooms, offering
classes for adults and children in drawing, painting,
watercolor, portraiture, sculpture, cartooning and
ceramics. The former building is now known as the
Wind Gallery Artisans' Group, which will feature works
in various media by 60 local and regional artists.
Lee, who was born in Taegu, Korea, has lived in Dayton
for the past 25 years. In addition to this new venture,
she is president of Jade International Imports and
owns Jade Gallery, a showroom at the Dayton Mall specializing
in Asian art, furniture, and gifts. Her own artwork
is distributed internationally by New York Graphic
Society, Editions Limited, Bentley House Publishing
and Mead Corp. She's also written a two-volume memoir
about her native homeland. So how does she fit it
"I don't sleep. It's been a hard 24 months -
with construction, the opening, and still running
my business. But after the grand opening, so many
people called and said we really need a place like
this. That made me feel so good, every morning I want
to get up and get out here," said Kee Hee.
Contact free-lance arts writer Pamela Dillon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright, 2002, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.
JAN UNDERWOOD/DAYTON DAILY PHOTO: KEE HEE LEE, owner
of the Centerville Arts Center, stands in the stairwell
of her new building, which opened June 1. Many internationally
known artists are represented in her galleries.
Jackson, 6, uses a tabletop easel to work on drawing
in the 'Little Picassos' class at the Centerville
Creative Arts Center. The second floor of the new
gallery and art center has a large classroom for art