MetroParks kicks off 50th anniversary with ‘Treasures’

The exhibit will open at the Schuster, then travel.


The challenge: how to best mark the 50th anniversary of Five Rivers MetroParks?

“I honestly wanted to avoid doing a foil-stamp on our envelopes and a sepia-tone coffee table art book,” jokes Beth Miller, director of marketing and public information for the parks.” We knew we were going to be 50 years old and we know the magnitude of the impact the park agency has had on the community. It was fitting to celebrate the collaboration and vision of open space protection.”

That celebration — and the creative concept Miller eventually hit upon — will be unveiled on Wednesday evening at the Schuster Center in Dayton. The public is welcome, and the event is free.

Hiding treasures

The theme is Hidden Treasures. Five artists from our area were invited to create works of art to mark the important anniversary. Within the five colorful posters created from each piece of original art are interactive elements designed to help you discover the “hidden nature” of the history of Five Rivers MetroParks.

“When people visit the parks and are out in nature in general, it’s different for everyone,” Miller says. “Some people want an active and physical interaction with nature and other people seek out serenity. For other people it’s the legacy and the shared experience of a natural environment.”

It’s similar, she says, when we view works of art.

“What you see is a very personal experience,” Miller says. “There’s a human filter for both the way in which they are created and how we use them.”

Her goal, she adds, was to come up with a campaign that would allow the whole community to celebrate and recognize the historical and citizen-driven impact of Five Rivers MetroParks, to protect the archives and to provide opportunities for people to experience the parks today.

Artists chosen

All five of the area artists invited to contribute their work accepted immediately, Miller says. They include Amy Kohler Anderson, Bing Davis, Gretchen Durst Jacobs, Marsha Pippenger and Ron Rollins, who is a longtime Dayton Daily News editor. Each artist contributed five nature-inspired works to the traveling exhibit and each created a piece that’s the basis for one of the posters that will be given out and signed by the artists at this week’s art opening.

Pippenger, who based her art on the monarch butterfly, believes we are blessed with a beautiful and varied park system that is enjoyed by many people in and outside of the Miami Valley.

“I myself feel great pleasure in enjoying the natural landscape of MetroParks, the flowers at Riverscape, watching the skaters in the winter, going to Cox and visiting the butterflies and the turtles, biking through Island Park, getting fresh bread and produce at the 2nd Second Street Market, and many other activities,” says Pippenger, who lives in Harrison Twp.

Anderson, whose humorous painting shows a squirrel planting his acorn with a shovel, says she and her husband live about a mile from Huffman MetroPark and are official volunteers.

“We can ride our bikes there for a little getaway and we helped work on the mountain biking trails — helping to clear the invasive honeysuckle trees,” she says.

Anderson was thrilled to receive the invitation to participate in the celebration “of this amazing organization.”

“I talked with some of the folks at MetroParks and they told me how the squirrels are a big part of the natural reforestation process because they bury seeds but only recover a small portion of them,” she says. Her humorous artwork, “Plant it Forward,” shows a squirrel planting his acorn with a shovel. The background is created with glitter in a five-way pattern that represents the FiveRivers MetroParks.

QR codes in the art

You can search for the hidden quick-response codes and phone extensions in each poster. Use your smartphone or tablet to scan the QR code that will lead you to a video clip. Enter the four-digit extension number and hear a special recorded message about Five Rivers MetroParks.

More to do and see

Check out the “50 Things to See and Do” found at metroparks.org/history. You can follow the directions to each park site; when you arrive, a sign will mark the special feature and suggest additional activities.

“We’re hoping people will visit locations to discover something they never knew was in their favorite MetroPark,” says Miller. “Something that was hidden in plain sight!”

To learn the history

In addition to the “Hidden Treasures” art exhibit, organizers are hoping you’ll want to visit the online archive developed in conjunction with Wright State University Special Collections and Archives.

The items you’ll see displayed are a result of lots of digging through boxes of old photos, brochures and park files that are being catalogued, preserved and stored for future generations. To see some of the nuggets that have been uncovered, go online to metroparks.org/history.



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