Beth Holyoke

Beth Holyoke

Art Education in Yellow Springs

Beth Holyoke, a self-proclaimed lifelong learner in the arts, has spent a great deal of her existence either taking art classes or teaching them. Beth’s family moved to Yellow Springs when she was three.  Growing up in the 1960’s, she recalls that a plethora of art classes were being offered in the village. “Many of these offerings were sponsored by the Yellow Springs Arts Council. Classes took place all over town, in homes, schools, greenhouses and many more places”, Beth explains.

Beth’s face lights up when she tells about her favorite class.  “It was making marionettes with Phyllis Cannon!”  Beth still remembers the joys of those long, sweet, summer hours working with this gifted teacher. You can visualize Beth as a young girl, when she says, “Phyllis was my idol!…The marionettes were the real deal, not paper things.”  The fascinated students learned to carve the wooden parts and cast the hands and shoes. “It was very intricate work”, Beth explains, and a door opening experience that encouraged her to continue working in the arts throughout her life.

After the students finished their Marionettes, they became performers and put on plays with their own creations. The group was called The Golden River Players and they staged productions on the porch of the G. Stanley Hall building at Antioch College, as well as in the Mills Gym/Auditorium. Some of Beth’s classmates included Kerry Moore, Carol Cornelius, Kitty Holyoke, Gary Wagner, Kathy Klein, Owen Agna, Suzy Wagner, Susi Oldham, Charlie Stephens, Judy Rimelspach, Bruce Berley, and her (eventual) husband, Andy Holyoke.

Beth had other memorable art educational experiences in the Village. She remembers taking a clay class with Dick Miller at the Carr Greenhouse, which housed a functioning ceramics studio. She also took enameling with Evelyn LaMer out of Evelyn’s home when she had just graduated from Antioch college.

After Beth entered college, she would come home to teach art in Yellow Springs. She remembers a Nature and Art Class that she presented at Mills Lawn through the YS Arts Council. Beth went on to graduate from Georgia State with a BFA.  She became the art teacher at Mills Lawn school and an adjunct Professor in Papermaking at Earlham College. During the 1980’s, when there was a raft of art classes offered by the Arts Council at the John Bryan Community Center, Beth taught Fiber Arts for kids. Later she was the Arts and Science teacher at Antioch School. And after that she was the John Bryan Pottery Shop Manager, a post which included managing and sometimes teaching community ceramics classes.

A tribute to her dedication to visual art and art education in the Village, Beth was an active board member of the YS Arts Council for many years. In the late 1990’s she was the treasurer of the organization and from 2000-2004 she held the role of president.

Synthesizing all those years of art learning, Beth has became a major producer of public art for our Village.  Beginning in 2006, Beth and her art partner, Kaethe Seidl, created three beautiful ceramic benches for the village. One sits at the bustling intersection of Xenia Avenue and Corry Street and another one graces the front of the Yellow Springs Library. The John Bryan Pot Shop is adorned with an amazing ceramic community mural, of which Beth was a lead artist.  Thousands of Villagers and visitors admire and utilize these gifts each year. In 2012, the art duo of Holyoke an Seidl christened the new Arts Council’s Space, at 111 Corry Street, with a giant clay and straw snake. This “earth work” curled out along the building’s facade with a reptilian head greeting gallery visitors until it naturally faded back into the earth (a planned function of the artwork). Perhaps most notable of Beth Holyoke’s public art is the joyful, bird topped, ceramic-tiled sculpture, “Yellow Springs Sign”, on Dayton Street that welcomes us all to our art filled village.

Posted by ysartsadmin