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The Northside House adds a new art element to the neighborhood

On a long sunny curve of Colerain Avenue sits a tidy, two-story brick shotgun house that announces itself with an ornate metal sign: "THE NORTHSIDE HOUSE, EST. 1880." Inside the building last Friday, two men put the finishing touches on a brand new contemporary art gallery, The Northside House, which will open this Saturday in the 130-year old building.

"This is the growing, creative area of the city," marketing and design director Jonathan Sears said. "Artists live here and work here and eat here, and they should be able to see and show art here too."

Last Friday, abstract paintings by Chicago-based artist Steve Amos and wall installations by Northside resident Alice Pixley Young filled the upstairs rooms. Their work will be joined next week by that of Ellington Robinson of Washington D.C. and Jon Payne of Dayton, OH, to complete the show "Inauguration." An exhibition of African ceremonial art titled "Life" will be on display in the gallery's entry room.

Chris Hoeting and Doug Hafner, director and owner respectively, are Sears' partners in opening The Northside House. Hoeting is a University of Dayton art teacher, and Hafner is owner of nearby Honey Restaurant. All three are artists.

Like many new galleries around the country, The Northside House is eschewing the traditional sterile, white gallery look and instead embracing the homely nature of its aged, charming quarters: the main gallery room has an old woodstove, openings will be catered by Hafners' local-centric restaurant Honey and the sign outside implies the organization is 130 years older than it really is.

Their gallery will give local artists a place to show work alongside nationally recognized artists, and also host museum-like exhibitions from private collections. Hoeting said they hope to collaborate with Prairie, an existing Northside gallery, to bolster Northside's artist community and ultimately foster a fine-arts component that will grow with the booming bar and restaurant scene there.

After its first six-month series of four shows, the gallery will begin moving towards a future goal: to become a community-based arts group that can offer classes, host artist groups or start public art initiatives. In the meantime they will keep regular weekday hours and be open on Mondays in their attempt to be more than just a gallery, Sears said.

The grand opening reception will run from 7 to 11 p.m. this Saturday, July 17 at The Northside House, 4034 Colerain Ave.

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler
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