Arts community mourns Jud Yalkut

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.”

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