When Rodney Veal was invited to audition for “The Art Show,” he immediately said yes and got the job.
You’ll see the results when the new weekly television series premieres at 5 p.m. today on ThinkTV 16/WPTD. The program will showcase the arts — both locally and nationally. Veal, a local choreographer and teacher, will serve as the regular show host.
Today’s half-hour episode will focus on artist/musician Michael Bashaw and his large-scale welded steel sculptures, and will also report on a Stivers School for the Arts jazz band trip to New York City. It will take viewers behind-the-scenes with the Dayton Ballet and introduce them to Scott Hocking, a Detroit native who has found art in abandonment.
Producer Lynnette Carlino says Veal— who serves as adjunct faculty for Stivers School of the Performing Arts, Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton — is a “fantastic ambassador for the arts.”
“Not only is he an artist himself in multiple disciplines, but if you attend a local art event, there is a really good chance you’ll find Rodney in attendance,” she adds. “His passion and support for the local art scene is infectious and I’m fairly certain there aren’t many artists out there he doesn’t know.”
Veal, a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, received his M.F.A in Choreography from The Ohio State University. He’s the recipient of several Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District (MCACD) grants and fellowships and was awarded a MCACD Fellowship for 2010-11. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Ohio Dance.
We asked Veal about his love for the arts and his new role as a television show host:
Q. How did you first become interested in the arts?
A. I have been making art ever since I discovered drawing on the wall at home in crayon — my mother was not happy about that. I had dreams of visual art from the beginning. It wasn’t until I got to college that the dancing bug hit me.
Q. What are your earliest memories of art experiences?
A. I have been so lucky and fortunate to have grown up in a household with parents who encouraged and supported my artistic skills. One of the most impactful experiences was seeing the taped farewell performance of Leontyne Price in the title role of ‘Aida’ on PBS Great Performances. While I had no ambition to sing, I was stuck by her commanding presence and talent and how the audience responded to that.
Q. What do you love about being involved in the arts?
A. I love that the arts are so multidimensional, and what really inspires me are the life lessons they have taught me along the way: that hard work and discipline really do matter, that intellectual inquires and research are critical components of the art-making process.
Being in the arts allows me to work with extraordinary people who make their living creating the most incredible art and performances in our community. It affords me a complete life and most definitely a happy one.
Q. What do you enjoy about teaching at Stivers?
A. The biggest joy of teaching at Stivers is that it allows me to pay forward all of the great artists and educators who guided me and pushed me to work and strive for excellence. Even though I know that not every child is destined for a career in the arts, the benefits of the training/exploration in the arts cannot be discounted. And the students in the dance department keep me engaged and informed, most importantly they keep me young-at-heart.
Q. How would you suggest parents interest young children in the arts?
A. Take them to as many age appropriate arts events that you can — presenting performances , gallery openings, exhibitions. Then talk to them about what they’ve experienced.
Don’t shy away from the unusual and unexpected. Lead by example, the more that your children see you engaged in the arts and being creative, the better. Exposure is the key.
Q. How did you become interested in dance?
A. I started dancing in college on a whim and used the first class to fulfill a physical education requirement and I was instantly hooked. I was not much of an athlete growing up, I was the ultimate art geek always painting and drawing. But dancing nourished my soul in such a powerful way.
Q. What is the challenge of being a choreographer?
A. The biggest challenge facing choreographers is that they have too many options: they can create work for the stage or can create site specific work in a park, they could incorporate video, live music or even spoken word. The sky’s the limit.
I was a pretty traditional choreographer until I entered the MFA program at The Ohio State University and that experience changed everything. I fell in in love with multimedia and I cannot stop myself from using video projections. I go completely gaga over technology- based work.
Q. What are some of the projects you’re most proud of?
A. A game-changer for my art-making was an installation I created as a resident artist for the Blue Sky Project in 2009. It was called “To Me You’re a Work of Art” and was my first collaborative/interdisciplinary piece. I incorporated a pool of water, a field of sod and video. All of it was installed on the third floor of the Excelsior building in the Oregon District.
The “Reveal: Five Zones of Beauty exhibition at the Springfield Museum in 2011 was as a great challenge artistically and combined my skills in visual arts, media and performance. I spent a whole year creating the content for that show. The investment of time and energy and collaborations with so many people was just incredible. And course presenting my work and life story at TedX Dayton last fall was a definite a highlight!
Q. Can you tell us more about “The Art Show?”
A. The range of work being produced locally, regionally and nationally is pretty amazing. While we have amazing art institutions in our community — which we will feature during the season — we will also be featuring those artists and projects that are not as well known to the community at large.
For example, we will be doing a piece on Neal Gittleman, conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the community SMAG Dance Collective.
The goal of the series is to illuminate, to inform and to inspire the audience. We’ll shine a spotlight on artists and art-making processes that we don’t always get to see when we visit the museum, gallery, or concert hall. We want to help our viewers make more informed decisions about attending unique arts experiences.
And we’re also hoping to inspire them to participate more in the local arts and cultural scene.
Q. How would you describe your role?
A. As host, I’ll introduce the viewer to the three or local segments being shown each week. I am really excited about sharing the knowledge, history and insights of the extraordinary creative people that make Dayton their home.
Q. What’s on your bucket list?
A. I would love to create a work that uses the entire cityscape of downtown Dayton as a canvas for video projections. Building-size projections and orchestrated lighting would make this an epic all-consuming project, but it would be a welcomed challenge. I thrive on experiences like this.
In our series of Sunday Chats, arts reporter Meredith Moss visits with arts leaders in our area who are making news.