Art Focus Oklahoma Nov/Dec 2015

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IN THIS PLACE WE HAVE BECOME: Sara and Shane Scribner by Lucie Smoker

Shane Scribner, Jessica in White, Oil on Panel, 10x30, 2015.

Mention art to almost anyone in Enid and they will proudly tell you about the Scribners, our local, world-class painters. “You should visit their gallery downtown.” It doesn’t matter that it closed years ago when the artists started showing their work all over the country; that gallery still dominates the town’s artistic memory. So with trepidation I set out to interview the Scribners, not wanting to dismantle the legend, but at the same time a bit skeptical of it.

As Sara leads me past a pair of easels, confirming that she and Shane paint sideby-side every day, an onlooking magical guardian pauses her conversation with the grey fox. From a towering, six-foot grove of red and white hollyhocks, she seems to be asking who I am and assessing whether I pose a threat to the vulnerable world she protects. Unnamed and unfinished, this enchantress already owns that greatest gift from the artist—courage.

Entering their massive, workaday studio, past comfy mismatched couches and a light stage for models, I’m torn between getting to know the artists themselves and meeting all the other “people” about the place. Alright, they’re paintings, but they’re not shy and they keep luring my attention away from the Scribners, plainspoken in jeans.

She will come out at the Scribners’ exhibit, In This Place We Have Become, through November at the Paseo District’s JRB Art at the Elms. It’s a sort of homecoming for two painters who chose Oklahoma as their home. Straight out of art school, they came here for peace and low rent. Now, after eleven years of love and paint, they have achieved that rare career moment of their work being still fresh, ever evolving, and at the same time—in high demand.

Shane explains that while he and Sara never considered giving up painting, in the early years, the bills didn’t always get paid and the lights got cut off. As he speaks, Jessica in White illuminates the wall behind him. Flushed pink against a harsh, deconstructed white glow, she lies curled up with thoughts of another place, a cherished moment. I want to tap her on the shoulder and ask, “Are you okay?” except the artist mentions that she’s grieving. I’ll give her a little leeway.

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Each of the Scribners has a unique style, but their works complement one another. Shane’s abstractions bathed in colored light bring out a fluidity in the human form, while Sara’s magical realism sends ripples down the line between fantasy and true space in real time. Sara Scribner, A Harmony Became Them, Oil on Panel, 18x24, 2015

A Harmony Became Them, like many of her paintings, explores the dual themes of natural magic and feminine strength. Standing between a no-nonsense Dianaof-the-wilderness and a wise patron insect, I can almost hear their hushed secrets. This Diana isn’t smiling or posed to please someone else. She’s rapt with attention and ready, if necessary, to fight. Each of Sara’s works is more a doorway into another world than an art panel, yet one quality permeates them—confidence.