ARTIST OF THE WEEK Walter Murch next to a self portrait and a Winnie the Pooh soap bar at his exhibition at K12 Gallery and TEJAS (314 S. Jefferson).
For 36 years Murch was Director of Product Design at Hewitt Soap (333 Linden) in Dayton’s Historic Inner East neighborhood. That plant was the country’s largest manufacturer of specialty soap bars, and Murch designed over 2,000 different soaps.
The exhibition includes examples of soap bars made for such diverse customers as Avon, Disney and the Sultan of Brunei. For each product Murch would do design sketches and then carve one bar by hand. His carving was used to make molds that made thousands of soap bars.
Murch has retired from soap carving but he is still a working artist, and some of his abstract paintings are part of his exhibition at K12. These paintings show some of the same skill and precision evident in the carvings. Interestingly, the soaps and the abstract paintings also share similar color palettes.
The exhibition continues through April 27. It’s well worth a visit to see the art and to learn a bit of Dayton history.