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A Place People Say 'Wow!'

Hamilton, Ohio – It’s an honor just to be nominated.

But it’s awfully neat to win.

Journal News voters selected the Fitton Center as Best Art Gallery in its 2023 Best of Butler County contest.

“It’s just a validation of the collaboration we do all the time,” said Cathy Mayhugh, director of exhibitions, who oversees the galleries. “We provide lots of artists opportunities to share their work in a gorgeous setting.

“We have beautiful gallery spaces, that can’t be denied. They are beautiful and flexible and provide us all sorts of ways to present all sorts of art.

“Artists use materials like writers use words. They put them together in a way you never thought about before and it makes you think, ‘Wow! I want to see that.’ I am glad to be recognized as a place people say ‘Wow!’”

The exhibition on display now – The 51st Hamilton Current – runs through July 7. Mayhugh said it’s a great example of art being inclusive and welcoming.

“We had a great response from a lot of artists,” she said. “Our judges this year had a big job and they included works from about 90 artists. That’s made for a very exciting show. It’s really cool to be part of this community.

“Part of it is because we partner with other galleries and groups and schools. There are so many artists in the area. To be a place where people can see that work, share their work, experience that work is very gratifying.”

More than mere exhibition spaces, galleries at the Fitton Center are places for learning.

“Especially in the Community Gallery, artists can participate in their own installations,” Mayhugh said. “They learn a bit about how to hang a show, which in turn informs how they may want to create the next thing.”

Mayhugh also appreciates how the gallery spaces work with other areas of the Fitton Center to give the community a complete arts experience.

“It doesn’t have to be their primary destination for people to enjoy our galleries,” she said. “People who come here for shows in the theater or the ballroom, for community events or weddings, we’re giving them some amazing work to enjoy as part of another event.

“There is creativity that happens here every day, whether on our walls, in our classrooms or in the community. The galleries are part of the bigger picture of everything we do.”

And the accessibility to visual art – which some view as intimidating or exclusive – is a big part of people witnessing that creativity first-hand.

“I think a really important part of our galleries in general is our Community Gallery in particular,” Mayhugh said. “So many different groups have the ability to offer their work there, especially young children. They are part of a show with their classmates, they get to see their work on display and celebrate one another’s stories. Maybe that’s the thing that breeds an appreciation for the arts that can last a lifetime.

“It’s a huge deal. They understand they have the ability to say complicated things without complicated words. Visual art is just another way of telling a story. When you realize that, it’s not so scary, not so unreachable. Maybe people respond to our galleries because they can experience so many stories in them.”

Find the entire list of Journal News Best of Butler County winners right here.

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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