SE Ohio's Dairy Barn Opens Show Marking 100 Years

January 13, 2014 03:27 AM

The dairy barn that has lent its name to a southeastern Ohio arts center is marking its 100th year with a series of community displays.

A centerpiece of the Dairy Barn Arts Center's centennial celebration will be this month's "It's All About the Barn" exhibition. The show will trace the history of the structure from its roots providing milk for the Athens Lunatic Asylum to its conversion 35 years ago to an arts venue, according to The Athens Messenger.

The exhibit opened to the public this weekend and runs through Feb. 16.

After a storied period as the asylum's dairy, a citizens' task force saved the barn from destruction in the 1970s. It's now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The goal of the original dairy barn was to provide enough milk for each patient and employee of the asylum to have at least one glass of milk a day, Dairy Barn director Jane Forrest-Redfern told the newspaper. She said the dairy farm far exceeded its goal and was at one time home to more than 100 cows, including the state-champion dairy cow Lotta Faye.

The building housing the current arts center was among several at the farm complex near The Ridges. Many deteriorated over time and were demolished.

Just nine days before the barn was to meet the same fate, a task force of citizens led by artist Harriet Anderson and her husband, Ora, persuaded the state to turn the structure into a nonprofit arts center.

"Those wonderful old dairy barns are actually exciting to contemplate," Harriet Anderson wrote in her letter to save the barn. "The main one is literally an (architectural) gem, surrounded by spacious yards paved with brick made from the area. Interior space is unlimited and almost ready made for craft shops, studios, class rooms, display spaces and the like."

Forrest-Redfern said more than 100 volunteers came together to clean up the barn and convert it into an arts center. The original ceiling and structural elements of the farm facility can still be seen.

Because its caretakers don't know the exact date it was opened, the arts center has planned exhibitions to run all year.

Future special exhibits include "Athens Paints," a curated exhibit of notable painters who lived, worked or studied in Athens, home to Ohio University (Feb. 28-March 29); "Athens on Paper," a curated exhibit featuring works on or with paper by artists past and present (May 9-June 8); "Art We Use," a national juried show featuring tools, teapots, bowls, boats, bracelets and other functional artworks (June 20-Aug. 31); and "Quilt (R)Evolution: Art Quilt Retrospective 1979-2014," a special exhibition of art quilts from Quilt National jurors serving since 1979 (Sept. 19-Nov. 22).

Source: Associated Press

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