Shared from the 4/16/2017 Dayton Daily News eEdition


Local artist to collaborate with Life Enrichment Center

Well-known for his colorful abstract paintings on steel, Dayton artist Mike Elsass obtains his “canvases” from local scrapyards.

One of those scrapyards sits next to the Life Enrichment Center in north Dayton. The mission statement of the Life Enrichment Center is to “serve as a catalyst for community change by creating an environment of grace that offers life building, life sustaining services to those in need.”

Emotional wellbeing is a big part of that. Fittingly, Elsass will partner with the charitable organization this summer in an ambitious art program.

“The Life Enrichment Center is pleased to collaborate with Mike Elsass to create an Art Village on our premises at 425 Findlay St. in Dayton,” said Lori Parks, a director in the Leadership Development Institute at the center. “We believe we can repurpose lives in the midst of the scrap metal yards surrounding us. The idea that Mike creates beautiful art from scrap metal made a perfect fit to collaborate with him.”

“The current thinking is that during good weather we’re going to paint on steel, and invite all colors, creeds, sizes and genders, to do several big Brush Before the Brain sessions,” said Elsass. “We’ll include people who think their lives have little value. We’ll possibly make several hundred 1-by-1-foot paintings.”

The Miami Valley Non-Profit Collaborative has a following of 250 members, who attend programs at LEC on a regular basis. The distribution of this artwork could grace many hallways. The pilot program’s theme will be Diversity.

Elsass is no stranger to philanthropic endeavors. He’s used to giving his time and talent for the good of others. This past March 22, representatives from public station ThinkTV visited his studio at Front Street.

“I was able to bring eight to nine artists together to donate work for their auction in early April,” said Elsass. “Four or five years ago I was on their Auction Live show, where I painted eight pieces. The top auction winners came together for a little function at Front Street, and the pieces brought $7,000 to $8,000 for ThinkTV.”

Also last summer, he collaborated with the Therapeutic Riding Institute, located at FineLine Stables in Springboro. It provides accredited therapeutic equine experiences in a safe and compassionate environment.

“I painted a horse with a couple of their clients and we auctioned off the work at an auction that night. To see the smiles on the children’s faces was great,” Elsass said.

He has also hosted art enrichment classes for clients at United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton for the past two years. He donated six 1-by-4-foot works that hang in the newly renovated lobby. It is part of the new 21,467 square-foot expansion that created space for 160 additional children and adults.

Elsass painted several pieces with 15 to 20 clients over several sessions that will hang in the new wing. Three of the works done with clients were gifted to big donor/supporters of URS.

Last summer he was an artist-in-residence with the Dayton Metro Library’s Miami Twp. branch. He held six sessions for library patrons of all ages, from 5 to 85. Then he had a session with the library staff. Forty-eight of the 7-by-7-inch works were hung in a grid pattern in a corner room. These will be similar, although a bit smaller, than the works that will be created at the Life Enrichment Center.

Contact contributing writer Pamela Dillon at

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