The Joy of Art

Centerville gallery has a place for everyone from beginners to international masters
BYLINE: Pamela Dillon For the Dayton Daily News ,
DATE: July 13, 2002
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

What: Centerville Creative Arts Center.
Where: 7300 Far Hills Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information: 291-4383.

Centerville -

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 Center.
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 all in?
"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

Copyright, 2002, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Illustration: 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.
Kayleigh 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 classes.