Culture Couch

WYSO is exploring the arts scene in our community with a new occasional series. It’s called Culture Couch. Have a seat.

It’s stories about creativity – told through creative audio storytelling.

From Broadway musicals to youth theatre, and graphic novels to graffiti, you’ll meet artists from across the region. We hope you’ll join us for the journey.

Culture Couch is made possible by a generous grant from the Ohio Arts Council.

Jim Kahle / WYSO

Honeybees are remarkable creatures - industrious pollinators necessary for producing most of our food crops like all of those apples, cucumbers, raspberries and pumpkins grown on Miami Valley farms and, of course, the honey for which they’re named.  With wild populations dwindling most honeybees are now kept as willing workers by human beekeepers. Community Voices producer Jim Kahle talks with Greg and Melody Blatt of Bellbrook about their path to a new hobby.

Contact: Art And Social Distancing Without Sight

May 5, 2020
Susan Byrnes

Social distancing is here the foreseeable future. But for people who are blind, contact with others can be essential for many daily life tasks. Community Voices producer Susan Byrnes tells us how one person without sight is managing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rockwell Kent's "Endless Energy for Limitless Living" is one of many works included in the self-guided tour on the Dayton Art Institute's website.
courtesy of Dayton Art Institute

If you’re staying at home and looking for something fun to do, Miami Valley museums may have you covered. They’ve been beefing up their virtual products to keep patrons well-cultured while quarantined.

Exploring Aviation Virtually 

The United States Air Force Museum is gigantic—over a million square feet.

It’s closed right now, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but Executive Officer and Digital Curator  Bryan Carnes says that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out.

“You can go through the whole museum with the virtual tour,” Carnes says.

Dayton flag pre redesign
City of Dayton

The City of Dayton is asking for help designing a new flag to fly over the Gem City.

The flag redesign project started long before the Coronavirus outbreak shut down most of the Miami Valley, but it’s nearing a close now and the city is looking for feedback from the community on three prospective flag designs.

If you want to make a great flag, you might want to start by talking to Ted Kaye. He’s the Secretary of the North American Vexillological Association.

One of the perks of studying flags is that you get to tell people you’re a vexillogist.

Yvette Watson as Alma Spearman (Mamie Till's mother) and Mendu Khanyile as Mamie Till in rehearsal for X*ACT's production of The Face of Emmett Till
Alan King


The Xenia Area Community Theater (X*ACT) is currently producing an Ohio premiere, The Face of Emmett Till. In 1955, Mamie Till put her only son, 14-year-old Emmett on a train from Chicago to visit family in Mississippi.  He was kidnapped and was brutally murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman.  Decades later, Mamie Till Mobley co-wrote a play about her struggle.  


Axe Throwing Combines Fun, Sport And Technique

Feb 7, 2020
Nelo Hotsuma / Flickr Creative Commons

Someone just hit their target at Wild Axe, an axe throwing bar in Beavercreek. Wild Axe opened this summer, and is one of the newest in a spate of such bars that has popped up over the last several years. Each of Wild Axe’s 11 throwing lanes ends in a large wooden target, where guests can practice hitting their marks during hour-long sessions. As they do so, they can have beer, wine and liquor. It may seem like a misstep to combine alcohol and weaponry, but co-owner Daniel Huiet says that each 15-foot lane is reinforced with steel cages on each side to protect from errant throws.

James Mellick's exhibit of service dogs at the United States Air Force Museum has drawn large crowds. The exhibit closes Friday, January 31st, making this the last week to see these sculptures in their home state this year.
Jason Reynolds / WYSO

Ohio artist James Mellick makes highly detailed, life-size, wooden sculptures of dogs. He’s been doing it for forty years now.

He uses walnut for Chocolate Labs, basswood for Yellow Labs, cedar for Red Dobermans, and sycamore for Malinois.

He’ll work a single sculpture for over a month, crafting it to perfection, and he makes all kinds of canines: surreal dogs that serve as allegories, realistic dogs that are playful and fun, and service dogs that have been injured in combat.

baking supplies
Nathan Yergler / Flickr Creative Commons

Stories mark this season, and that brings us to a Yellow Springs December story that many of us know.

Yellow Springs patron Wheeling Gaunt was born in 1812 on a tobacco plantation in Carrollton Kentucky.  Enslaved by his father and stepmother, Gaunt bought his freedom and then his wife’s freedom with money earned polishing boots and selling apples, and by his industry and frugality, was at the time of his death, considered the wealthiest man of color in Ohio.

The men who participate in Theater of Conviction at Marion Correctional asked their collaborators to stage a performance of Hamilton.
Kyle Long Photography / used with permission

Last month, a prison theater group at Marion Correctional Institution performed The Hamilton Project, 23 songs from the hip hop musical on the life of Alexander Hamilton.  

The men in Theater of Conviction at Marion Correctional have tackled big ideas before, including Hamlet. It was after that performance, that they approached their director Jessie Glover, a theater professor from Otterbein University, and said, “Hey, when are we going to do Hamilton?" 

The William Preston Mayfield Photo Exhibit is on display at the Dayton Art Institute now and runs until January 5, 2020.
Dayton Art Institute. On loan from Cristina and Ren Egbert

William Preston Mayfield led a fantastic life.

He learned to take photos when he was nine, talked the Dayton Daily News into a job at twelve, and, by his early teens, became the first person to take a photograph from an airplane.

Mayfield became famous while the Dayton Art Institute was being built, so it only makes sense that a collection of his work would be on display for DAI’s Centennial.

Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, the photography curator at DAI, says it took some time for Mayfield to gain the Wright Brothers’ trust.