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CRITICAL ESSAY // HEATHER AHTONE // A Tour of the Fantasy in Art 365


CRITICAL ESSAY // Janice McCormick // 365 In Six Modes


SAR AH ATLEE // PROJECT // Normal OK: Signs and Folks


BETSY BARNUM // PROJECT // Leaves a Trail to Fall


JOE DAUN // PROJECT // Drive and Ambition




LIVE4THIS // PROJECT // Elements of Childhood


LIZ ROTH // PROJECT // America 101







C U R AT O R S TAT E M E N T DIANE BARBER It’s interesting to consider that lifelong neighbors could be complete strangers. When Julia Kirt approached me in 2006 about participating in the experiment that would become Art 365, I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I did know was that it would provide me with an opportunity to get to know, in great depth, the richness of the creative community in my neighboring state of Oklahoma. What I didn’t anticipate was just how unusual this experience would be.

As a curator for a fast-paced, very of-the-moment alternative art space, I’m constantly moving from project to project, from exhibition to exhibition, focusing my energies on a specific endeavor—typically, installing a show that runs for six weeks—and then moving on to the next project. Art 365 gave me a welcome opportunity to slow things down a bit. Over the course of the past year, I’ve made repeated trips to Oklahoma, each time zig-zagging across the state to check in on the progress of the seven artists that were selected to inaugurate this remarkable program. When you think about it, Art 365 is a radical concept. In a time when the commoditization of artistic practice is at a fever pitch, and in a country where much of the art world’s attention bounces from one over-hyped art fair to the next, Art 365 emerges as an enlightened and refreshing contrast to all the drama, one that allows for introspection and focus, sustained diligence, dialogue and collaboration.

There’s a certain risk involved in an endeavor like this. It’s almost like a game of chance in which the outcome is entirely unknowable from the onset; a game where personalities, working styles, communication, geography and time all play a role in the process. But that’s just a subtext. The strength of Art 365 lies in its ability to redirect our attention to the very act of creating, to illuminate the effort behind the realization of an idea and to mark the subtle shifts and changes along the way.

The resulting exhibition represents a year of work in the lives of seven very unique and talented artists, all of whom were selected to participate in this program based on the strength of their ideas. Not surprisingly, they each approached their creative practice in very personal ways. As a result, the work in this exhibition exudes personality—varying considerably in style, scale and subject with themes of time, imagination, place and memory weaving a visual narrative and providing a glimpse into the minds of the artists involved.

To view works from the series Leaves a Trail to Fall is like traveling into the psyche of Edmond artist Betsy Barnum. In her somber, layered works on paper, Barnum employs texture, pattern, and thoughtfully considered composition to create introspective pieces that provide quiet glimpses into the artist’s personal life. Using a strategy akin to journaling, the series follows the chronological progression of time, mood and emotion that marks the artist’s daily existence. Barnum’s approach to her creative practice is simultaneously self-conscious and aggressively deliberate, incorporating metaphorical imagery and mysterious juxtapositions that defy easy interpretation. Nevertheless, Barnum unflinchingly lays bare the most intimate and private details of the relationships and interactions that shape her life in ways that are at once mind-bogglingly cryptic yet beautifully and triumphantly poetic.

Sarah Atlee’s active imagination comes alive in Normal, OK, a series of portraits and abstracted landscapes full of color and texture. The landscapes are firmly rooted in the physical space found in Oklahoma with the resulting paintings taking their cues from observed combinations of billboards, road signs, architectural infrastructure and geometric patterns that dot the physical terrain. Also inextricably linked to the state’s geography is Atlee’s collection of portraits. Creating character names by combining the names of towns in Oklahoma, Atlee introduces viewers to fictional characters that possess the depth, history and complexity of an entire community. To hear Atlee talk about her work, it’s as though the characters portrayed in her unusual collaged drawings are actual people—longtime acquaintances of the artist from some strange yet oddly familiar place. Atlee accompanies the portraits with a detailed collection of character sketches—written biographies that serve as formal introductions to this strange cast of characters with outlandish resumés that are as whimsical as the portraits themselves.


Liz Roth’s America 101 takes the form of an ambitious and absolutely charming collection of 100 snapshot-sized paintings that serve as a sort of visual map of the United States coupled with a billboardsized reproduction of a painting depicting a disposable water bottle lying on its side. The contrast in scale is jarring and hints at the underlying meaning behind the work. America 101 is a sharp commentary on mankind’s propensity to ignore the environmental consequences of unchecked human consumption. To create the project, Roth traveled to each of the 50 states to record her impressions of the changing landscape. Armed with a camera, sketch pad and a keen and determined gaze, Roth captured the vast range evident in the natural landscape, ultimately producing two thoughtfully composed paintings for each state in the country. Roth’s painterly technique is meticulous and nuanced, resulting in a masterfully crafted grouping of intimate works whose subtle nature belies the powerful commentary that lies within.

Equally ambitious and socially charged is Ashley Griffith’s Recycled, an ongoing photographic project that confronts viewers with an overwhelming catalogue of images defining the American landscape. Arranged for this exhibition into three distinct compositions, the works feature hundreds of images captured, edited, sorted and packaged by Griffith into powerful groupings covering a range of topics from the progression of time (in this case, the last year of the artist’s life), to biting social commentary, to a dark but humorous take on the nature of the American condition. Quirky and engaging, insightful and at times discomforting, Griffith’s work underscores the innate and incomparable power of the captured image.

Like Griffith, Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner play up the power of the carefully culled, punctuating image in their latest collaborative project. Working as a team under the name Live4This, Phillips and Whisner travel back in time with their project, Elements of Childhood, reconnecting with memories, objects and pop culture references drawn from the artists’ early life experience. The resulting installation is a colorful explosion of found objects, paintings on panel, and large-scale wall murals dripping with nostalgia and playful energy. But while the work is undeniably personal, Phillips and Whisner gravitate towards the type of iconic imagery that defines American popular culture. The cast of characters depicted in the installation ranges from Darth Vader to Scott Baio, Barbie to Pac-Man, providing an amalgam of influences and time-based references that contextualize the average American upbringing.

Play figures prominently as well in the work of Joe Daun. But, unlike Phillips and Whisner, Daun’s imposing mechanical sculptures revel in contradiction. Funny and inviting, absurd and over-thetop, Daun’s Desk Kart and Flying Desk momentarily obscure the more serious underpinnings of the works’ overarching meaning. In many ways, Daun’s sculptures can be read as autobiographical commentaries giving viewers a hint at the internal struggles defining the mindset of an artist in his professional prime. In this case, the sculptures reference the drive and ambition that sets the tone for Daun’s working life. Desk Kart, the earlier of the two works, illustrates the seemingly impossible task of trying to strike a balance between the demands of an artist’s professional and personal life. Flying Desk, the most recent addition to Daun’s sculptural portfolio, hints at an alternate, more hopeful approach to this struggle. Clunky and low-tech, yet remarkably elegant, Flying Desk is poised to embark on an incredible journey and the audience is invited along for the ride.

In many ways, the art produced during Art 365 represents a journey for each of the seven artists. Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provided a starting point for that journey by creating an environment that encouraged creative risk, creative freedom and creative collaboration. Through works in the exhibition, viewers travel at an accelerated pace to places real and imagined, past and future, personal and universal. As curator for this project, I had the unusual opportunity to watch things unfold more gradually; to see the deliberate progression from beginning to end. Art 365 has been an amazing experience for me personally and after a year of working with Betsy Barnum, Sarah Atlee, Liz Roth, Ashley Griffith, Darshan Phillips, Aaron Whisner, and Joe Daun, I’m somewhat sad to see my journey with this project end. I do suspect however, that while Art 365 for me now exists only in the rearview mirror, for these incredible artists, I have no doubt that this is only the beginning.

Diane Barber is Co-Executive Director and Visual Arts Curator of Diverseworks in Houston, TX and served as Curator for the Art 365 exhibition.


D I R E C T O R S TAT E M E N T JULIA KIRT Before the ink started drying on the first honorarium check we wrote to the artists, I began imagining their work. My vision was of artists feverously working in their studios, focused and oblivious to their surroundings as they persevered to complete their artistic dream proposals.

At that point, we had been working on Art 365 for a year. More specifically, the vision for the exhibition took root in 2004, so three years had already passed planning the project, raising the money, and recruiting the galleries. In my minds eye, the artists were waiting anxiously for the money to get started on their great ideas.

Now you have to understand, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition usually awards funds to artists after they have made their artwork. The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition has a long tradition of awarding money to artists, totaling over $300,000 so far. In fact, this was one of the main reasons that the organization was founded 20 years ago. However, the Art 365 idea of giving money to the artists in advance or during the creative process was a fresh idea for us.

Art 365 is an open call exhibition in which each of the six selected projects received a $10,000 honorarium and close contact with our guest curator, Diane Barber, over the fellowship year. Barber selected finalists from the 134 submitted proposals. Artists received funds and studio visits quarterly as they prepared for the opening of the exhibition, approximately a year away, at Untitled [ArtSpace] in Oklahoma City.

At the beginning of the actual 365 day project, I was enamored of concept of the freedom the money would provide to the artists and how exciting it would be for the artists to work directly with a curator and money in hand during their “creative process.” Despite my art world work experience and art history studies, the idea of the “creative process” has always puzzled me. The word “process” is pervasive jargon in our field. When combined with the words “bureaucratic” and “meat,” process takes on a negative caste. At the very least, describing artistic creation as a process shrouds it in mystery. What does happen in time and space when an artist is making what will later be displayed as art in a gallery? On the other hand, for most of us conducting the business of art, we are consumed with practical issues of timelines, square footage and marketing.

For myself, and I imagine many other people, I really do not know how art gets made and the creative process continues to be elusive. This disconnect perhaps explains the proliferation of purchased posters and mass produced formulaic artwork. If we do not understand the energy and life that artists put into their work, it might be easier to drop by the local variety store to pick up a pretty reproduction to hang over the sofa. This disconnect might also explain how artists are undervalued in our culture. Some of us in the art field are glad to leave artists’ creative activity a mystery; it is much more enchanting that way.

My first studio visits for Art 365 helped demystify my personal concept of the artistic process, transforming it from a generic, however educated and well-meaning, appreciation of artists’ work. Curator Diane Barber was an able guide as we journeyed through the studios of the seven artists selected for the project. Seeing first hand the day-to-day challenges of a working artist provided me with a new and deeper understanding of the process of creation

We met real people working in studios, spare rooms, garages and other working spaces, either trying to produce precisely what they originally envisioned or simply following their muse until they were pleased with the final product. Throughout this process, they were also dealing with real life issues including how to mount their art to the wall, build things bigger, focusing their energy and making their concepts clear. The artists were not necessarily channeling some magical energy into finished pieces, they were painstakingly working, shaping and producing their craft. Simultaneously they navigate the rest of their lives: jobs, family, health, etc. As is typical for all of us, their days were full of interruptions and tangents.


A receptive envoy, Barber pushed the artists to think beyond their initial proposals in scale, scope and depth. She asked them what they were making and thinking, looked at their created work, sketches and materials and generally pushed each artist past their individual comfort levels.

Luckily the structure of the Art 365 exhibition specifically intended this kind of curatorial challenge and reveling in art making. We chose Art 365 as the best way to shift the ecology for artists in Oklahoma: offering more money, giving artists proficient feedback, and showing the artwork in multiple places through touring. We were also pleased to commission a documentary film about this year by Melissa Scaramucci and Cacky Poarch, opening the artists up to a reality-TV-show like experience of their personal lives. Hopefully the final film will give us glimpses into the emotional and material realities of their year.

After a year of work, the opening reception took place. Their terrific artwork was installed. The exhibition looks splendid. Nevertheless, the real success stays in the artists working: their ruminations, garnering feedback, exploration of materials and construction, and, in effect, their creative process.

Thank you: As the artists took risks creating their work throughout the year, the exhibition’s sponsors and venues took a risk by supporting this venture. Offering this type of financial support for the artists could only happen with the watershed commitment by the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Jean Ann Fausser. Susan McCalmont, director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, and Jean Ann began backing the exhibition before it even had a name. Their help, along with the National Endowment for the Arts, Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Humanities Council, and many great individual donors, pressed us to give the artists as much financial, marketing, and linking support as possible. Thank you for your entrepreneurial support.

Untitled [ArtSpace] signed on as a venue, trusting the potential of letting artists develop the idea. Laura Warriner, founder, and John Seward, Interim Executive/Artistic Director (who also served as OVAC’s Exhibitions Committee chair throughout this program’s development), helped guide this project along. Their conviction along with that of the University of Tulsa, Liggett Studios, Legion Arts at CSPS and Diverseworks allow us to show this artwork to many audiences.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Board of Directors and the Exhibitions Committee also deserve recognition for their increasingly deepening pursuit of opportunity for artists in Oklahoma. They were the first to get excited about giving $60,000 away. What a great sign that they understand and strive for the mission of this organization.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition staff are an especially determined lot who helped push this program along in midst of international conferences, maternity leave, and more. Thanks especially to Kelsey Karper and Stephanie Ruggles Winter who had integral roles in this exhibition’s success.

Thank you to the artists, both those selected and not, for their ardor. You truly make this world a more motivating and livable place.

Julia Kirt has served as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition since 1999. She can be contacted at


A Tour of the Fantasy in Art 365 h eat h er a h tone Artistic vision and opportunity merging are bound to result in something exciting. This is absolutely true of the work in Art 365. This unique opportunity presented by the Oklahoma Visual Artists Coalition concludes in the same-named traveling exhibition, presenting the work of Sarah Atlee, Betsy Barnum, Joseph Daun, Ashley Griffith, Liz Roth, and Live4This (a collaboration from Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner). Within the diverse media represented, there is an underlying theme that becomes apparent upon close inspection – fantasy. And while the ideas of fantasy and the fantastic are present within all the works, the work also reveals an intimacy that may be more surprising. With the endless layers and barriers in our internet and technology dependent society, art has the capacity to serve as a catalyst, revealing the intimate and fantastical visions of the artists, reinforcing their experiences as real people. In Art 365, seven artists reveal that vision. It is only natural to start that tour with Joe Daun’s vision of Untitled [ArtSpace] as a hangar/garage. The Flying Desk reaches out to the viewer, incarnation of a drawing reminiscent of da Vinci’s flying machines. With its skeletal reference to a plane, the extended wings are covered in unpainted broadcloth and functionally move up and down by someone seated upon a bicycle anchored to a wooden desk. We can each share the desire to take flight while we sit at a soul-depleting job. This machine can only come from an intimate desire to escape. The addition of a typewriter, rubber stamps, and embosser leave only the passport missing to take leave on the imaginative trips possible seated at this desk. This fantastic machine is exceeded only by the incredibly satisfying Desk Kart. The keen attention to detail and the visual proof that the work is a functioning vehicle affirm the potential of Daun’s fantasy. The details are where its at in this work – carefully organized on top of the metal desk are a globe that serves as a “GPS” system, the desk lamps cum headlights, the rear-filing system (who hasn’t wanted to “rear file” something at least once), the shredder that provides an effluent exhaust of paper, and the ever-present computer system – all actual working mechanical systems made mobile by a small engine and given witness to functioning in the video feed playing on the computer screen. Who hasn’t envisioned themselves transcending the confines of the cubicle to conquer the world? Daun not only shares this fantasy but also makes it possible through this vehicle. The expression of this fantasy links those of us who share the desire into an intimate army of dreamers. The physicality and tangible reality of this work allows us to feed our own fantasy. The anchoring of these works to the desks makes it seem possible that the fantasy might even be a justifiable use of company time. The layers of fantasy and intimacy come into close proximity in Betsy Barnum’s series entitled Leaves a Trail to Fall. Her use of pattern, light, shadow and a personal symbology create an ethereal and haunting body of work. The layers seem transparent and accessible in their softly muted colors and controlled use of light. Yet the common representation of disengaged figures and persistent presence of birds puts the viewer into a voyeuristic position, watching from outside the activity. But the journal, centrally located on a pedestal within the exhibit area, becomes a key to understanding the work, the artist’s process, and the ever-present vulnerability and humanity of the depicted experiences. The language, the repeated imagery and the tangible layers collaged into the journal enrich the reading of the larger body of work. The self-portraits become separate illustration plates to the story. The artist’s capacity to honestly express the situations depicted reveals a strength and commitment to the process belied by the pale colors and transparent layers in the work. The journal as dictionary to the symbology and the artist’s listing of this deciphering key as “not for sale” becomes an act of self-preservation, a denial of selling one’s soul, and leaves the viewer standing at the podium searching to clarify the work before leaving the book behind. While the larger works on paper have this light quality – within the image, if not the content – the etching plates are full of the shadows and mystery that suit this medium. The careful balance between the light and shadow in Barnum’s work intimately reveal her experiences and lend just enough fantasy to make them accessible to the viewer. In the same manner for creating plates to a larger autobiographical story, Ashley Griffith provides a chronological survey of her own year in My Three-Hundred and Sixty-Five. Raw photos, snapshots of the emotional roller-coaster ridden by the artist during the period represented in this work, capturing the anguish of waiting on deaths and births, the anxiety of medical examinations and test results, the joy of friends and craziness of foreign travel. The use of the CD jewel cases creates a structural organization that reads like a singular roll of film, reading the chronology in columns. Leaping, as does our memory, from those most memorable moments to the next, this visual diary doesn’t rely on a daily representation, but upon what was most personally significant as told in the faces and the drama of the directed gaze. Griffith denies us any distance by placing the viewer into the role of active participant, sharing the scene as we sit across the table or extend our arm


for the blood test. We sit in the waiting room, in the car, at the funeral, and read the signs that direct us to toilets and terminal gates. The rawness of the photos convey the experience without the polish of a pose that removes us safely from the situation. This same approach is repeated in All You Can Eat and You Have Been Warned. The coarseness is part of the message – addressing the censorship so often assumed and allowed in the mass media. Griffith compounds this realism with repeated juxtapositions that reveal the fallacy of censorship, challenging the viewer to look at the detail of the images. In You Have Been Warned she juxtaposes the symbols, gestures and symbolic language of fundamental beliefs against themselves. Turning these visual and linguistic statements into a larger dialogue of humanity, Griffith stumps righteousness and rhetoric. She dispels the smoke and mirrors of politics, especially as they are involved in power struggles, and places the viewer into a position of clear self-awareness, questioning our own role and participation. Both of these works are uncomfortable, yet valid and necessary contributions to the social dialogue. Griffith is stalwart in her use of imagery and communicating her message. She doesn’t give the viewer much room to interject fluff and leaves a little exhausted from the examination. Taking the greatest leap into imagination, Sarah Atlee created work that thrives on fantasy. In Normal, OK Atlee delightfully creates a community of personalities who are imagined constructions drawn right from the Oklahoma map, such as the stoic Guthrie Perkins Cushing III. Her use of mixed-media surfaces for these portraits contributes to an understanding of these “people” with layers of pattern and distorted faces. Few of the characters engage with the viewer or seem rooted in the present. The interjected abstract renderings of place make it that much more fantastical. The overall scale and handling of materials is reminiscent of concept sketches for an extended collection of family album portraits. By placing these portraits into primarily singular presentations, the lack of interaction and emotion seems anything but normal, revealing an underlying sense of isolation and dislocation. There is very little that ties these people, visually or conceptually, together. The abstraction of place emphasizes this disjunction. Perhaps the artist is making personal commentary on what might be considered normal in Oklahoma. The disconnect to reality is also seen in the childhood fantasy created by Live4This, a collaboration by Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner. The Elements of Childhood use bright colors coated with a glossy finish on a grand scale. Heavily graphic pop cultural images – cartoon characters, toys, soldiers, and candy – lend to an installation that reminds one of rooms overflowing with the material culture of an American childhood. Larger than life painted silhouettes of Barbie and Bazooka Joe balance out small-scaled prints of army men and camouflaged ice cream cones. The recognition of the popular celebrity represented in an early photo of Scott Baio taped inside the Lockers and portrait of either Erin Moran or Valerie Bertinelli (everyone had big hair back in the day) added to Bazooka Joe reminds us all of those early pubescent fantasies. Including a functional Ms. Pac-Man draws people into the space of fantasy and memory. However, the playfulness becomes rather dark with the realization that these oversized works also reek of the candy-coated marketing directed at children, many of these images touting trademarked icons of the late 70s and early 80s. Though the colors create an energy that is inviting and exciting, the overflowing references to packaging counters the sense of “fun” and gives the experience a thoughtful edge. The memories and market-driven symbols of childhood get repackaged and served-up again in these shiny packages. The final artist included in the exhibit, Liz Roth provides social and environmental commentary about the marketing of water through those single-use bottles in America 101. A large billboard poster presents a painting of a water bottle in a massive and central presentation. This is balanced by a grid of tiny cubes with oil depictions of serene views from across the country presented on either side of the billboard, one hundred in total. Each cube is beautifully handled and draws on the most desirable elements of the American landscape. The billboard visually outweighs and overwhelms the collective of the landscapes and seems to reaffirm the necessity of the artist’s advocacy for thoughtful consumerism described in the artist’s statement. The title serves as both commentary on the environmental lesson and the number of separate images composing the whole. Roth denies us the opportunity to take what we want from the work, listing the entire installation as a single (and sizable) purchase – we have to take responsibility for the whole statement to get access to the small and beautifully composed views. The statement has impact and denies us any fantasy about the role that marketing has played into our basic need for water and its accessibility. The exhibition provides a vision of the fertile artistic community rooted in our Oklahoma landscape. The works differ in media and vary in their personal commentary and depth of content. However, each artist brought skilled craftsmanship and technical finesse, thoughtful visual descriptions of their artistic vision, and inspires the viewer to engage with the work. The work is a tribute to the variety of artistry present in the state. At this time when Oklahoma is questioning its viability as a potential center of national engagement through sports and music, this exhibit affirms that the artistic community is more than ready to step up to the plate. heather ahtone is a writer, curator and artist currently teaching art history at the University of Oklahoma.


365 IN SIX MODES JANICE McCORMICK Six distinct bodies of work comprise Art 365. Yet, despite the diversity of perspectives, styles and themes, they all share a common thread – the desire to explore unflinchingly the cultural and social issues in contemporary American life. These include the threat to the environment, the workaholic lifestyle, the unthinking consumerism, the commercialization of childhood, the clash of values, the stultifying small town life, and the difficulties of interpersonal relationships. A billboard size image of a plastic water bottle dominates the center of Liz Roth’s America 101. Its clear plastic reflects the background’s various shades of dull money-green. Two flanking walls hold a hundred postcard size oil paintings of American landscapes, unevenly distributed – forty-four to the right and fifty-six to the left of the bottle. The bottle brings the total to a hundred and one, hence the title with its suggestion of lessons to be learned. This contrast in size creates tension, forcing the viewer to stand far enough away to take in full the photorealistic bottle of water, yet pulling the viewer in to take a closer look at each tiny painting. These landscapes, on wooden blocks jutting out four inches from the wall, cover each of the fifty states which Roth visited. Pristine lakes, forested valleys, rocky shores, sandy beaches, receding purple mountains, eroding canyons, and sunlit clouds over prairie are devoid of people. Their small size adds a sense of preciousness. When walking from one side to the other to examine the second group of paintings, you see the bottle as an abstract pattern of light and dark. Yet, it never looses its looming presence. Its faux shadow echoes the jutting paintings’ actual shadows caused by raking gallery lights. Stepping back to take in the whole work once again, you realize this symbol of consumerism is an ominous threat to those pristine landscapes, not something to be dismissed as “just a bottle of water.” Joseph Daun creates a fanciful yet incisive commentary on the American workaholic lifestyle in Driving Ambition. His two large scale vehicles, Flying Desk and Desk Kart, are variations on this theme. Both meld an icon of freedom and adventure with its very opposite – the ubiquitous desk, symbol of corporate order and drudgery. The flying machine, seemingly circa 1920, is a tubular steel skeleton of a plane, with canvas covering its wings. A bicycle, sans wheels, provides the would-be flyer with a place to control this streamlined symbol of freedom and adventure. But, gravity wins out: instead of a control panel of gauges and landing gear below, there is a clunky desk. A stack of four lifting weights hangs overhead, signifying the dead weight of work and the need to “pull your own weight.” Peddle as you might, you’ll never take off. In contrast, Desk Kart does move (as shown in the self-referring video playing on the desk’s laptop). Yet it hardly represents venturing off the beaten path. On the contrary, this vehicle/desk comes fully loaded: computer, printer, desk lamps for headlights, calendar, globe and shedder. Spewing shredded blank paper instead of exhaust fumes adds a note of futility. Stepping into the Elements of Childhood installation by Live4This (Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner, collaborators) is like peeking into an attic stacked with painted images, found objects and text – all revealing the dark, violent side as much as the fun, innocent side of growing up in America. Heroes and villains vie for attention: Army Men and Captain America versus Vader and Boogie Monster. Particularly powerful is the placement of the colorful borrowed image of Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture overlaid with a black silhouette of the sign language for love right next to a large GI Joe poster in stark black and yellow. A girl jumping rope, first pet (a dog), balloons, Cookie Monster, Thumper, and tootsie pops ooze innocence. Yet, the slick surfaces of most of these painted images bring home just how much commercially generated images dominate our children’s lives. Not all is negative however, after all, the opening word for this installation is “play” and indeed you can play the Ms. Pac-Man video game.


Ashley Griffith’s Recycled consists of three pieces each containing multiple color photographs placed in CD cases, arranged in neat rows. The one-hundred-seventy images in All You Can Eat cover the entire food process, not just the cooking, selling and consuming, but also the disturbing activities we wish to remain ignorant of - the slaughtering of living creatures. One telling example is the Chick-Fil-A sign’s stylized logo of a chicken head sitting just above a block of images of plucked chickens, their heads hanging down with a tag around their necks, about to be beheaded. Equally disturbing is You Have Been Warned which explores the powerful clash of values in America by juxtaposing contradictory found signage. A church sign reads “God called you to witness – not judge” sits right next to a crudely lettered placard reading “You call it ABORTION, GOD calls it MURDER.” In contrast, My Three-Hundred and Sixty-Five contains more candid snapshots, capturing a rather random, less focused, and more personal perspective: a bored young man stares off into space, a woman examines artwork, young people mug for the camera, and the artist buys a lottery ticket. Confronting the sheer number of photographs and figuring out the relations among of images in these works lead to visual overload. Fortunately, the artist adds a postmodern wink with an image saying “Blah, Blah, Blah.” Sarah Atlee captures the stifling tone of small town life through her caricatures of local personalities in her fictional Normal, OK. Her portraits are like visual ciphers or puzzles often containing background images and text that either highlight or run counter to a person’s character. This delightful ambiguity sets you wondering about these people. You can’t help but assign them roles. Pernell Foster is a glum, tight-lipped figure in sepia and black. His melancholic expression clashes with the background of gaily colored flowers. But, given the almost mocking text “Pernell is fixing to say something,” perhaps he is more comfortable talking to plants than people. And who would blame him? Orienta Gay embodies the role of prim and proper upholder of moral rectitude and town busybody – hardly one to whom you would confide your secrets. By including several abstract, quasicubist cityscapes among the portraits, Atlee encourages you to see this as Any-small-town, USA. Unlike the other works in this exhibit, Betsy Barnum’s Leaves a Trail to Fall is most personal and enigmatic. Even though her titles suggest lines of dialogues and there are recurring characters, these works are not fully decipherable. Two over-arching themes do emerge, however: the difficulty in communicating with others and the emotional demons that make relations so messy. The female and male figures are almost disembodied: their large, fully detailed heads rest on bodies that are too small and reduced to flat, collaged blocks of paper. Thin, tenuous lines sketch their limbs. Their awkwardness proves to be most fitting. Besides people, crows play a prominent, symbolic role. Surrounding these figures are decorative patterns that both flatten the space and hold symbolic value as well. Hold It Until It’s Gone epitomizes Barnum’s work. The central female figure stands in profile, head bowed. She holds a pot with plant leaves spreading outwards. On one of its stems perch two black crows. A pale blue background filled with brown and white candles burn, suggesting the passing of time. A male figure seems to emerge from her back as if they share part of the same body. But, he faces the opposite direction and pulls a bright red cloth covered in cream dots away from her. A crow with wings fully expanded also grasps at this cloth. The contrast in colors highlights the conflicting emotions: she is full of sorrow, he is angry; both are dealing with ever present fears. On the whole, Art 365 succeeds in exploring a variety of issues in American life. Some works are rather straightforward, while others are more nuanced. All are thoughtprovoking, while voiding the pitfall of didactic art that places more importance on the message than its visual embodiment. Janice McCormick is an art reviewer who has been writing about art in Tulsa and Oklahoma since 1990. Currently, she teaches philosophy part-time at Tulsa Community College. She can be reached at



SARAH AT LE E P R OJEC T//Normal , OK: S igns and Folks 013

S A R A H AT L E E S TAT E M E N T I was born in Norman. When I was a baby, my family moved to Albuquerque, where I grew up. Recently my mother moved back to Norman, and after finishing graduate school, I joined her here. I have always been “from Oklahoma,” but now, for the first time, I am an Oklahoman. Borders between communities are arbitrary, yet we assign them a certain credence. Who I am is connected to where I live. This body of work is an exploration of my identity as it relates to my new surroundings. My work for Normal, OK proceeds in two distinct aesthetic directions. Signs and Folks are answers to the broad questions “Where am I?” and “Who are you?” Signs Oklahomans, myself included, spend a lot of time on the road. Route 66 is an integral part of our heritage. Arterial interstates whisk us from state to state. Along the road, an archaeology of advertisement emerges: billboards with missing panels, hand-painted text, and panels rearranged so the ads become illegible. Advertising is supposed to be shiny and bright; signs that are old, awkward, or broken are uniquely endearing. Using copious reference photos taken along Interstate 40, I create mixed-media paintings, allowing the forms and typography to become increasingly abstract. Objects like gas meters, dilapidated sheds, silos, water towers, and corrugated steel warehouses punctuate the sharp horizon. Institutional greens and rusty whitewash clash with the blue expanse of sky. These lonely inhabitants of the landscape creep into my abstract compositions, taking on their own identities. Character follows form follows function. Could we say the same of people? Folks Here’s a fun game to play in the car: When you pass a road sign that has two town names on it, pretend they are the first and last names of a person. Invent a personality to go with that name. For example, Hydro Carnegie is an aging vaudevillian child star whose specialty was the unicycle. These days Mr. Carnegie breeds labradoodles. I’ve played this game enough to populate an entire imaginary community.* These characters are fertile ground for my new series of portraits. With fictional portraiture, personalities emerge gradually through the marks from my pen. I’ve developed a technique of collage and ink drawing to create nuanced, evocative images. Normal, OK is a fictional construct, a place in my head, based on the real places around me. This project is an aesthetic response to my experiences living in Oklahoma. By extrapolating characters from Oklahoma’s place names, and artifacts from its decaying signage, I can interpret our state’s identity through the filter of my own experience. *George H. Shirk’s Oklahoma Place Names (OU Press, 1987) helps me fill in the gaps. Bio Sarah Atlee was born in Norman, OK but grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She received her BFA from the University of New Mexico and her MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. In 2006, she returned to Oklahoma where she works as a painter and freelance illustrator.




Pernell Foster lives on his grandfather’s homestead, next door to Katie Hennepin. He finds Katie’s geodesic dome offensive, but harbors a crush on Katie. His repressed feelings gradually steer him into organic farming. The parcel where Katie Hennepin lives used to belong to the Fosters. It was lost in a poker game by Pernell’s deadbeat brother Keystone Newcastle Foster, who is currently serving 6 to 10 for uttering forged documents. Pernell Foster // Acrylic and collage on paper // 11” x 11.5”



Tishomingo “Mingo” Yale teaches Pilates. On weekends, weather permitting, she runs a roadside fish fry stand. Mingo came to fitness instruction in her mid-forties, after years of wearing high-heeled shoes had all but ruined her spine. At the urging of her chiropractor, Mingo took up yoga. The improvements in her health were so significant she decided she must help bring this lifestyle to others. Mingo occasionally reminisces about the fall of 1962, when Babs Sandbluff edged her out for the Homecoming Queen title. And just look at her now! Tishomingo “Mingo” Yale // Acrylic and collage on found panel // 13” x 13”


Lawton Amarillo collects exotic reptiles. She is an ecowarrior at heart, though sometimes she facilitates shady reptile import/export transactions. These dealings with “private collectors” are a necessary evil to help fund Lawton’s rainforest conservation efforts. She and Dallas Amarillo are cousins. L awton Amarillo // Acrylic, ink and collage on canvas // 12” x 16”



Guthrie Perkins Cushing III went to law school because his father and grandfather were politicians. Due to a rare hereditary skin condition, he is completely bald. He never wears toupees. Instead he has cultivated a modest, impeccably stylish collection of hats. His hatbands and hankies always match. Guthrie writes cozy mystery novels under the nom de plume Lenora Sedan. When he goes to visit his editor in New York City, he dresses in drag. The only other person who knows about this hobby is his aunt Vinita Perkins. Guthrie and Vinita meet once a week for tea. After her passing, Vinita leaves Guthrie her collection of furs, but what he really wants is the tea set. Guthrie Perkins Cushing III // Acrylic on canvas // 12� x 12�




BETSY BARNUM S TAT E M E N T I use my works on paper to describe my life, expressing my thoughts and emotions about a specific moment or circumstance through my relationships with those I am closest to. I build up thin layers of paint, ink and erased charcoal to conceal and reveal images the way emotions and behavior are unconsciously layered to hide or signal something to others. The gesture and composition of the figures in my work are very important, as they are the first indicators of the work’s meaning. I use recurring objects from piece to piece as symbols or metaphors for people and ideas. For example, I often use a typewriter to represent myself, or a bird as a metaphor for fear, or the fleeting nature of time. I use paper as my surface because of its flexibility, smoothness, and capacity for erasure. Like a palimpsest, it shows the progression and history of layers of marks. It is like skin; it wrinkles and fights back when worked on, asserting its personality into the painting or drawing. Like journal pages, my work is an ongoing narrative, each piece chronologically linked to the others. The work is often grouped in a series. Each gesture, color, layer, and object is significant, and each work interacts with the others to establish meaning through a repetition of these elements. Bio Betsy Barnum moved to Oklahoma after earning her MFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her BA is in Graphic Design from Anderson University in Anderson, IN.




You tell me things will be different // acrylic, pencil and collage on paper // 52� x 36�



Lonely sky, the more you take the more that I give in // acrylic, pencil and collage on paper // 54” x 36”


See ya in the pit // acrylic, pencil and collage on paper // 54� x 36�



It was never what I expected // acrylic, pencil and collage on paper // 52” x 36”



JOE DAUN P R OJEC T//Drive and Ambition 029

JOE DAUN S TAT E M E N T The pieces that I have created for Art 365 are inspired by my experiences as an art administrator. This body of work addresses my need to be successful, which is balanced against the stress and challenges associated with being ambitious. The work also addresses how we set goals for ourselves and how we deal with the consequences of our choices. As an administrator I tend to throw all caution to the wind. The more stressful things become the more secure I am in my vision and need to “move forward.” I really don’t understand the status quo because things never really stand still in the world that I live in. I really think a lot about empowerment and I feel that everyone has the ability to meet their dreams. It’s only a question of what we dream of. Society pushes us to contain our dreams and conform. We are raised under the influence of conspicuous consumption. More = Progress. I think that it is time that we question what goals we set for ourselves. Desk Kart In Desk Kart I was greatly influenced by my experiences of trying to be a practicing artist, teacher, administrator, active member of the art community and also have a “real life.” I had the feeling that I was out of control yet I was still driving as fast as I could. I feared the consequences of stopping. I also was thinking about obvious, over the top, comparisons to cars such as the Hummer or the Range Rover. Flying Desk In the Flying Desk I am more hopeful as I have simplified my life and stepped back from many of my former self-imposed responsibilities. I am looking for a future that has hope and I am trying to define what that is for me. I have always been intrigued by flight and the quick progress from a powered glider made mostly from bicycle parts to a contemporary jetliner weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds. I am especially intrigued by mans urge to fly. It is a real challenge to remain hopeful when one knows that things aren’t going to work out exactly as we have planned. Bio Joseph Daun received a BFA from Florida State University and an MFA from the University of Texas, San Antonio. His work has appeared in exhibitions across the country and is in numerous university and private collections.
















A S H L E Y G R I FF I T H S TAT E M E N T Many of my Recycled pieces include very little in the way backgrounds. This limits the focal plane and expands the opportunity for the viewers to fill in the details, by encouraging them to bring the entire pieces together to make a whole. The very fact that the jewel cases exist in a frame of limited context and perspective lends them to greater sense of reality. My Recycled series is comprised of strong colors and images as if the viewer is “recycling� a mental slide show and at the same time prompts the viewer to consider the humor and irony of religion, culture, politics and war. Until Art 365 I had never produced a piece from this series on such a large scale. The largest piece Three Hundred Sixty-Five Days gives the viewer a glimpse of my life over this past year of working on the project. It was very difficult to document my day to day activities; for fear that to an outsider it would seem boring and monotonous. The process of deciding what images to use was much harder than I had anticipated and it in the end this was the most difficult piece in the show to do, not because of its scale but because of its content. In my Recycled series I have been drawn to taking photos of images that are so ingrained in our daily life that most of us do not process or think about them. The other pieces in the show focus on incorporating images which reflect many of the issues that society is battling with every day, such as, religion, politics, homosexuality, disease, food and obesity. During this past year I had the opportunity to travel to New York, the Western U.S., China, Indonesia and Singapore. My travels gave me a chance to incorporate images from all these different places and the opportunity to show not only the many differences in these societies, but ironically how very similar they are. I hope the viewer cannot always tell where the image is from and the context that surrounded it; therefore, it leaves the image open to viewer’s individual interpretation. Bio Ashley Griffith is a fine art and documentary photographer. Her work is collected and exhibited nationwide. Griffith holds a BFA from Pratt Institute in New York City and is the Owner and Director of A.K.A. Gallery in Oklahoma City.












YOU HAVE been warned //MIXED MEDIA // 8’ x 6’




LIVE4THIS S TAT E M E N T We (Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner, aka: Live4This) have been collaborating as artists since 1998. We met in our high school art class where we started painting graffiti together. We were both drawn to the culture and graphics of graffiti and through our like-minded interests became good friends. Through graffiti, we became fascinated with graphics and design in general and both decided to attend the same college together to pursue our growth as designers and artists. Over the years, we started to make a gradual transition out of graffiti and began to focus more on our painting and design. In 2006 we decided to start a collaborative art and design studio where we would use the strengths of collaboration as a means of production and promotion. This idea of painting as a team stemmed from our graffiti roots where it is common for a group of artists to form a crew that paint together and represent each other individually and collaboratively. Our work is extremely influenced by graphic design and specifically concert posters. With a focus on aesthetics, we compose our paintings using elements and graphics that complement each other graphically yet still hold true conceptually. For Art 365, we decided to get in touch with our inner child. Painting the iconic elements and influences of our childhood, we would try to capture a time in life where responsibilities are nearly nonexistent and the focus on life is enjoying it. Using a method of painting on wood we use every paint imaginable including latex, spray paint, acrylic and ink while creating a painted collage of images and icons. To further capture the essence of the era, we paint temporary mural installations and bring in additional elements like school lockers and an arcade machine. In the same way a film director may use elements to capture the era they are portraying, we are recreating a dream-like installation of childhood. Bio Live4This is a collaborative project from artists Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner. They work together in graphic design, photography and fine art. Their work has won multiple awards and been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions.















LIZ ROTH S TAT E M E N T Nature, that is the physical world that surrounds us, is an overwhelming concept for us as humans, especially because we are so physically small compared with our surroundings. In our contemporary world, we contain nature in many ways, one of which is to collect and enjoy disposable, mass-produced consumer goods that are scaled to us as humans. We allow ourselves to be seduced by these seeming necessities even as we environmentally ruin the majesty of our surroundings to create them. This piece is a contemporary critique of our uneasy relationship with nature – the project demonstrates our attempts to ignore what is large at the same time we focus attention on small impermanent disposables. There are 100 very small (3” x 5” x 4”) oil paintings of the natural beauty of the United States, as represented by landscape paintings from all 50 states. For this project, the artist has visited all 50 states and created paintings either on-site, or from photographs and drawings created in each state. These landscapes are painted on box-like wooded structures to have the uniformity of a mass-produced commodity. These small paintings are contrasted by a billboard-sized image of a common disposable commodity – the single-use, disposable water bottle. A ubiquitous commodity in a nation with pure drinking water at almost every tap, the very creation of the plastic water bottle takes three to six liters of water. Plastic bottles are a serious disposal issue in landfills, and it’s estimated a quarter of the bottle’s volume in oil is required for manufacturing and bringing any given bottle to market. As the artist visited each state, and found landscape vistas, the sense that these areas would eventually be chocked with landfill was omnipresent. The selection of a water bottle also speaks to necessity of most forms of life – which includes the flora we find so attractive -- requiring water to survive. There is irony in the fact that all places we go for natural beauty are dependant on this water (as snow, lakes, oceans, foliage, etc.) that we are so thoughtlessly wasting. Bio Liz Roth received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the University of Wisconsin. She teaches Painting and Drawing at Oklahoma State University. Roth’s work has been featured in exhibitions across the country and the globe. She is the recipient of many awards, grants and residencies including a residency at the Awagami Paper Factory in Japan and the national Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant for Painting.




NORTH DAKOTA // OIL On WOOD // 3” x 5” x 4”



IDAHO // OIL ON WOOD // 3” x 5” x 4”







- Ann Simmons Alspaugh - Anonymous (2) - Robert & Cara Barnes - John McNeese & John Richardson - Richard Pearson - Carl & Beth Shortt - J. Andy & Sue Moss Sullivan - Laura & Joe Warriner






Cathy Deuschle, Tulsa Elizabeth Downing, Tulsa Jean Ann Fausser, Tulsa, Treasurer Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs Skip Hill, Oklahoma City Jonathan Hils, Norman Pam Hodges, PhD, Sand Springs, President Eunkyung Jeong, Weatherford Stephen Kovash, Oklahoma City, Vice President Suzanne Mitchell, Oklahoma City R. C. Morrison, Bixby Richard Pearson, Edmond Kathleen Rivers, Ada John Seward, Oklahoma City Carl Shortt, Oklahoma City Suzanne Thomas, Oklahoma City Lila Todd, Oklahoma City Rick Vermillion, Edmond Sydney Bright Warren, Oklahoma City Elia Woods, Oklahoma City, Secretary



Mission The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promotes public interest and understanding of the arts. Contact PO Box 1946 Oklahoma City, OK 73101 P 405.232.6991 F 405.270.4806 WWW.OVAC-OK.ORG


Untitled [ArtSpace], Oklahoma City, OK March 14-April 26, 2008 Alexandre Hogue Gallery, University of Tulsa and Liggett Studio; Tulsa, OK, May 29-June 27, 2008 Legion Arts at CSPS, Cedar Rapids, IA October 15-November 23, 2008 Diverseworks, Houston, TX Solo shows for each artist beginning September 2009



Art 365 Exhibition Catalog 2008  

6 artists received $10,000 each to prepare new work for the Art 365 exhibition held in 2008. Artists included: Sarah Atlee, Betsy Barnum, J...

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