It’s hard to imagine an art or exhibit opening anywhere in our region without the presence of Jud Yalkut. Along with his wife, Peg, Jud was always there to offer a warm hug, a cheery greeting, and an appreciation of the art on display.
The arts community lost one of its most talented and cherished members on Tuesday when Jud died at Cincinnati University Medical Center at the age of 75. Although he had battled health problems for years and survived a liver transplant, he continued to create work until the end of his life.
We invited some of those who’ve known him best to share thoughts and reminiscences of their friend and colleague at this sad time.
Steven Bognar, local filmmaker and Oscar nominee: “Some of us kids who had dreams of making movies first encountered Jud in the grimy bars of Dayton, where he would set up 16mm projectors to play crazy images behind punk and new wave bands, back in the day.
“He was an exotic figure to us 18-year-old wannabes. Little did we know he had been part of an amazing community of avant garde filmmakers in NYC, pushing the cinema into new territory. Thanks, Jud, for all your work, and for making Dayton your home in these later chapters of your life.”
Carol Nathanson, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Wright State University: “His body of work included collaborations with such noted vanguard practitioners within the visual and performing arts as video artist Nam June Paik, musician Charlotte Moorman, performance artist Yayoi Kusama, and dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown.
“Jud’s work has always had a multi- or cross-media thrust. In his films and videos, music or sounds complement and often drive the shifting visual effects, sound and image becoming inseparable.
“In addition to films and videos, Jud’s production as an artist includes three-dimensional works that offer a play on 19th -century machines designed to create the illusion of moving images and holographic pieces that utilize changes in the viewer’s position to endow images with a strong sense of physical reality. Increasingly over the years Jud turned his attention to collage, using as components graphics from period sources that he meticulously pieced together.
“We have been extremely fortunate that Jud chose to remain in Ohio, while maintaining a national and international profile as an artist, writer, curator, juror, and consultant.”
Eva Buttacavoli, executive director, Dayton Visual Arts Center: “Jud was a prolific artist, teacher and charmer to the end – on July 12 he was surrounded by admirers — as usual — at DVAC’s opening reception of the 22nd Annual Open Members Show.
“When I arrived in Dayton in 2009 and found he lived here I cold-called him and asked to meet. I knew about the experimental film scene of the 70s having organized a show in Austin and curated a series of films including Yalkut’s work. He invited me to his lovely modest suburban home. I remember having iced tea and knowing this man was one of the rock star experimental artists of his generation – a cool and intellectual character – a sweet soul – but I felt, a raconteur in his youth.
“His studio was amazing – 2000 sq feet of film editing equipment, drafting tables, collage materials, books, history, artworks, film canisters – all meticulously in order. It was a jaw-dropping moment for a museum gal and after that I always thought how special Dayton was specifically because of him.”
Jeanne Philipp, Adjunct Faculty, Art History, University of Dayton: “Jud Yalkut will be remembered by many in our community as an influential filmmaker, scholar, educator and cultural historian. Over the years Jud and I have collaborated on numerous arts exhibitions, film screenings and educational programs. Most recently in spring 2013 I curated Jud’s “Visions and Sur-Realities” exhibition at the University of Dayton.
“Jud’s ever-evolving grasp of new technologies were integrated into his work and teaching, driving his vision as well as others’ creativity. During the 1970s we were colleagues, teaching in Wright State University Art Department. As an educator Jud left his mark on hundreds of students, including my students.
“During the 70s he introduced many East Coast avant-garde filmmakers to Ohio audiences, stimulating a great interest in experimental media here in Dayton. He touched the lives of so many artists in Ohio. He curated numerous individual artist and group exhibitions.
“In 2002 we collaborated on a photographic exhibition and scholars’ symposium on the 1913 Dayton Flood. Jud Yalkut will be much missed in the arts community for his vitality, his innovative artistic practice, influential texts and his love of a wide variety of art. His great generosity of spirit animated him to lead and inspire us to keep the arts in the full flow of our lives.”
Pam Houk, arts educator: “Jud’s importance as an artist was his pioneering work in experimental filmmaking and video art. His work was included in many major exhibitions including the Whitney Museum in New York, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., and many one person shows around Ohio, including a recent retrospective in three galleries at the University of Dayton.
“Jud was a major force in Dayton’s art scene, known for his tireless efforts on behalf of area artists. For years, as head of the Miami Valley Cooperative gallery, he organized exhibitions of local and regional art in various spaces around Dayton. He was a prolific art critic, writing reviews for Dialogue Magazine (Ohio’s premiere art publication), and small independent newspapers such as the Dayton Voice and The City Paper.”
About Jud Yalkut
Besides a long career as a visual artist, Jud Yalkut had a distinguished career as a film and video artist. Born in New York City in 1938, he graduated from the High School of Music and Art, and attended The City College of New York and McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He taught film and video at the School of Visual Arts, the City University of New York, and New York University.
A resident of the Dayton area since 1973 (he and his wife, Peg, lived in Waynesville), he was Assistant Professor of Art at Wright State University where he founded the film and video area of the Art Department, and taught at Sinclair Community College in Dayton and at Xavier University in Cincinnati. A six-time recipient of Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council as well as three OAC Artist’s Project grants, he also won a Master Individual Artist Fellowship from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Fellowship in 2003 from MCACD.
He was recipient of a One-Man Film/Video Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 2000 and gained regional and international acclaim as an invited presenter at symposia (Centre Pompidou in Paris and Smithsonian Museum 2013) and exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Tate (Liverpool) and worldwide museum screenings of his films and videos.
His one-man video installation exhibition, “Videoscapes by Jud Yalkut,” ran at the Miami University Art Museum, Oxford in 2002. In 2005, Yalkut received the Ohioana Citation for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts. Recent video installations have been “Sea Islands” at the Dayton Visual Arts Center and the one-man “Variations in Vision and Video” at Bowling Green State University, both in 2008. In spring 2013 the University of Dayton presented a retrospective of over 40 years of Yalkut’s work. The exhibition titled “Visions and Sur-Realities” brought together a survey of Yalkut’s early film and video works, immersive video environments, literary collages and a holographic laser display he created with University of Dayton physicists in the 1980s.
Jud was one of the founders of the Dayton Visual Arts Center and for fourteen years directed the Miami Valley Cooperative Gallery.
SOURCE: Jeanne Phillip, University of Dayton