Art Focus | Fall 2023

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FALL 2023




ON THE COVER // Shin-hee Chin, Komorebi (Godslight) , 2019, recycled materials, perle cotton thread, embroidery floss, wool, linen thread, whole cloth random stitch, hand stitch, 62” x 57” | Courtesy of the artist; MIDDLE // M. Francine Campbell, Enslavement on the Levee, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”; BOTTOM // Jaime Misenheimer, Field Light, 2023, watercolor pencil on paper, 9” x 11”

Support from:

CONTENTS // Volume 38 No. 4 // Fall 2023



IN THE STUDIO // Inclusion in Art Launches High Craft


REVIEW Reductive Affinities // Leon Polk Smith at the OSU Museum of Art


FEATURE Along Reconciliation Way // Shin-hee Chin and 10 Years of 108 | Contemporary CASSIDY PETRAZZI

PREVIEW Fold the Margins In // Oklahoma Visionaries at Liggett Studios


PREVIEW Background Steps Forward // The Flower Moon Art Show at Tulsa Artists’ Coalition


INTERMEDIA Art and Memoir // “Oklahoma, 1970-1988”



Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition PHONE: 405.879.2400

1720 N Shartel Ave, Ste B, Oklahoma City, OK 73103. Web // Executive Director // Rebecca Kinslow,

Editor // John Selvidge,

Art Director // Anne Richardson,

Art Focus is a quarterly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into and providing current information about the visual arts in Oklahoma. Mission: Growing and developing Oklahoma’s visual arts through education, promotion, connection, and funding. OVAC welcomes article submissions related to artists and art in Oklahoma. Call or email the editor for guidelines. OVAC welcomes comments. Letters addressed to Art Focus are considered for publication unless otherwise specified. Mail or email comments to the editor at the address above. Letters may be edited for clarity or space reasons. Anonymous letters won’t be published. Please include a phone number.

2022-2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS // Douglas Sorocco, President, OKC; Jon Fisher, Vice President, OKC; Diane Salamon, Treasurer, Tulsa; Matthew Anderson, Secretary, Tahlequah; Jacquelyn Knapp, Parliamentarian, Chickasha; John Marshall, Past President, OKC; Marjorie Atwood, Tulsa; Barbara Gabel, OKC; Farooq Karim, OKC; Kathryn Kenney, Tulsa; Heather Lunsford, OKC; Kirsten Olds, Tulsa; Russ Teubner, Stillwater; Chris Winland, OKC

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition is solely responsible for the contents of Art Focus . However, the views expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Board or OVAC staff. Member Agency of Allied Arts and member of the Americans for the Arts. © 2023, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved. View the online archive at

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As predictable as it seems each time I write this section, so far I haven’t been able to resist the seasonal reflection that a quarterly magazine inevitably inspires. Like everyone, I said no prayers for this summer’s gnarly heatwave to linger longer, but I’m surprised at how much I’m already leaning into autumn— relishing the bookish back-to-school vibe and making notes on a project or two that, when the winds blow colder, will hopefully keep me occupied well enough indoors. To everything, there is a season.

Because none of us—like the best works of art—are just simply one thing. I recently had a conversation with a friend who bemoaned that art in Oklahoma is so often understood as exclusively high art, whatever that might mean anymore. So I’m very pleased that this issue of Art Focus casts such a wide net, recognizing artists working well outside the state’s mainstream art institutions, and also places a strong emphasis on craft art, itself too often framed in déclassé opposition to so-called fine art.

Just as the upcoming Oklahoma Visionaries show at Liggett studios (p. 18) has become a beacon for “outside” or “visionary” artists hungry for exhibition opportunities around the state, so should Inclusion in Art’s High Craft (p. 6) further elevate artists of color who work in a craft medium and thus may have been, historically, doubly undervalued. Similarly, Jaime Misenheimer and the relatively “outside” artists and background actors of Tulsa Artists’ Coalition’s Flower Moon Art Show (p. 22) open a zone for both aesthetic play and urgent historical reckoning to mark the release of one of the decade’s most anticipated films.

With the Leon Polk Smith retrospective at the OSU Museum of Art (p. 10) and Shin-hee Chin’s Entangled Harmony at 108|Contemporary in Tulsa (p. 14), we can observe two masters at work, the former’s hard-edge abstraction leading the dialogue with design trends of his time and the latter’s articulation of craft weaving the world together, inside and out, in a dynamic warp and woof of embodied ideas. It’s this level of complexity that invites us in, that lets us know there’s room for everyone.

I hope you enjoy reading.

JOHN SELVIDGE is an award-winning screenwriter who works for a humanitarian nonprofit organization in Oklahoma City while maintaining freelance and creative projects on the side. He was selected for OVAC’s Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellowship in 2018.

On view through Jan. 15, 2024 | 11 NW 11th St., Oklahoma City The Soul Is a Wanderer 2023 Installation of ArtNow: The Soul Is a Wanderer. Photo: Ann Sherman


With the exhibition High Craft, opening at OCU in late October, five Oklahoma artists engage in craft work such as quilting, bead work, and hand-sewing to produce vibrant, original, and individually realized artworks. Historically, crafts like these have been relegated to domestic or industrial labor, but the intricate skill through which the artists achieved these pieces and the stories they tell elevate them to the level of high art.

High Craft is sponsored by Inclusion in Art, an organization that exists to promote ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse artists in Oklahoma’s visual arts community. Founded in 2004 by Nathan Lee, Skip Hill, and Suzanne Thomas—herself the driving force behind High Craft—Inclusion in Art created the first database of contemporary artists of color living in Oklahoma and went on to form partnerships with galleries that resulted in exhibitions for many diverse artists, some of which were their first showings. Today, several art spaces in the state, like Living Arts Tulsa and Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman, turn to Inclusion in Art to connect them with artists whose work might be overlooked otherwise.

In August, I sat down with Thomas and High Craft’s five artists to talk about their upcoming show. I was struck by how they considered the exhibition as an opportunity to create community, bringing people together while allowing viewers to get to know them better. As Lawrence Naff said, “Through our art, we show that we are multifaceted, human people.”

Why would you like people to come see High Craft?

Maria Anderson: First of all, minority artists are showcased, and two, we are elevating and bringing things that are considered “craftsy” into a gallery setting. I would love for

people to take what they see and go home and realize the work that their grandmothers did is actually art.

Ann Solenski: Yes, you have seen some of this work in domestic settings, and so craft artwork may already be more accessible to some people.

Suzanne Thomas: In the past several years, I think the idea of craft has grown in respectability as we expand ideas of what art is. Historically speaking, as opposed to fine art, craft has been considered women’s work, or simply a “skill.” And let’s talk about that word, “skill,” because it’s been in the news lately [ed. note: in July, with controversial new educational standards in Florida that endorse a distorted view of slavery]. The idea that certain human rights violations could be a good thing, because they helped certain people learn skills, ignores that those people may have already had them.

Beverly Kirk: I would like people to be inspired to think a little deeper about where these artworks come from within.

Maria: All these works have a huge narrative strength, and that makes them so compelling.

Are all of you telling stories with your artwork?

Beverly: I didn’t know that I had a story to tell until I sat down with my fabrics, the colors, images, the state flags— whatever I use. When I quilt, I want the fabrics to speak in their colors and in their crooked shapes. And as I work, they begin to. I hope to make a visual impact on people that pushes them to think deeply about subjects they did not think about before.

OPPOSITE // Maria Anderson, portrait panel for her Honor Thy Mother installation, 2023, dye sublimation print on satin with rhinestones, sequins, beads, and embroidery, 66” x 50” | Courtesy of the artist

Maria: I do a lot of hand sewing, which I got into as art therapy. My work is very emotionally charged. I usually start from a concept, such as family trauma. I like to make art about my relationship with my mother as a way to heal and to contemplate how we don’t have perfect families. For High Craft, I made an interactive booth called Honor Thy Mother. It’s tongue-in-cheek; my mom thinks it’s funny. There is a prayer kneeler that I beaded, so it’s very uncomfortable to kneel on. I love to play with contrasting ideas as well as contrasting materials. There will be an image of my mom in the booth, figured as an icon. Even though it’s my story, I think other people will feel familiar with it.

Ann: All art is self-portraiture. My quilt pieces are mechanical, but they also reflect my adoption story.

Lawrence Naff: The majority of my work is not narrative, but the pieces I contributed to this show have something to do with self-segregation and what’s known as “white flight.” As a response to integration in the 60s, many white people moved out to the suburbs, and I didn’t know about

this until I was in my 20s. I think this is a huge part of our racial issues today, the fact that we refuse to get to know one another if we could know each other as a neighbors instead of “those people over there.”

Amy Young: Working in fiber techniques, my pieces in this show are all centered on family and the ways my family has shaped my identity. I’ve split the works in the show into two groups based on their mediums: tufted rugs and weavings. The weavings display words of protection my parents gave to me as an adolescent, based on the perspectives of racism they had experienced. The tufted rugs are images of animals based on the zodiac signs of my sisters and me. The crab, scorpion, and ram all sit constellation-like on the floor, each playing upon the others through color and shape. The sum of the works together depicts a family in all its support, but also its fair share of misguidance.

Suzanne: In the last few years, in general, craft has not experienced a renaissance, exactly, but it has grown in respectability. With a historical perspective, as we expand our ideas of art, we recognize craft was relegated to

Beverly Kirk, See Me Beautiful, 2023, wax printed panel and patchwork, 45” x 52” | Courtesy of the artist Ann Solinski, Under a Watchful Eye, 2023, cotton and polyester, 30” x 40”. Pattern by Legit Kits. Quilted by Agnes Stadler. Kona cottons by Robert Kaufman | Evan Beasley

women’s work and downgraded to just being a skill. But storytelling through craft work is one of the elements that elevates it to the level of art.

High Craft will be visible from October 26 through December 15 at the Nona Jean Hulsey Art Gallery in the Norick Art Center at Oklahoma City University, 1608 NW 26th St.

KRISTEN GRACE is a journalist for 405 Magazine and 405 Business Magazine, a freelance copyeditor for Callisto Media, and a graduate of Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA program. She has authored a picture book for children, The Stepmother Who Believed in Feathers, as well as Wings, a collection of feminist fairy tales, both available from Literati Press. She has recently published poems in Focus Magazine, Mid/South, Freezeray, Behind the Rain Anthology, and other literary journals.

Lawrence Naff, White Flight, 2022, rhinestones, apophyllite, selenite, and brass on birch panel, 20” x 20” x 1.6” | Courtesy of the artist Amy Young, Sisters: Scorpion and Crab, 2023, tufted rug, 40” x 30” and 40” x 32” respectively | Courtesy of the artist Leon Polk Smith, Dusty Miller , 1955, gouache on paper, 23 ¾” x 17 7/8” | OSU Museum of Art


Many art institutions are invested in providing cultural experiences that engage the public in critical thinking and connect people to ways of thinking that stimulate a cultural dialogue. Focusing on the formal elements of art, the OSU Museum of Art presents the exhibit Leon Polk Smith: Affinities in Art & Design to reflect upon Oklahoma’s contribution to the hard-edge abstraction movement of the 1950s and 60s and its connection to 20th-century design. In 2015 and 2018, the museum welcomed 756 works on paper from the Leon Polk Smith Foundation and approximately 200 design objects from collector George R. Kravis II to its collection. Located in Stillwater’s Postal Plaza building, designed by R. W. Shaw and constructed in 1933, the gallery space is sizable and preserves many original architectural details alongside contemporary renovations. In early August I met up with Casey Ihde, who manages the museum’s marketing and communications, for a tour of the show. We discussed the exhibit’s structure, the interplay between visual art and industrial design, Smith’s commitment to art education, and the significance of these two collections to Oklahoma. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, with this level of programming the museum actively demonstrates its commitment to creativity, lifelong learning, and cultural engagement.

Leon Polk Smith was an early practitioner of hard-edge abstraction, a movement that rebelled against the often inherent chaos of Abstract Expressionism. His images are orderly, stripped-down formal explorations of simplified line, shape, color, and space. Reductive strategies like Smith’s for rendering form within an image became a central catalyst in the transition from modernism to the post-modern movements of minimalism and conceptual art. The influence of Smith’s hard-edge abstraction also reached beyond the art world, spilling into the design

aesthetics powering corporate logos, production design, and architecture. Dominated by clean lines and geometric shapes, the work of this era was seen by many as contemporary and sophisticated. Admired for its simplicity, precision, and use of color, Smith’s work confirms Oklahoma’s connection to modern design during the mid-20th century.

Most interestingly, this exhibit lucidly demonstrates Smith’s approach to art making. Through the thoughtful organization of images, viewers are provided with a glimpse into the artist’s way of thinking. We come to understand how Smith’s shifts in viewpoint and scale result in new compositions and aesthetic outcomes. A perfect example of his process can be discerned through inspecting three works in which Smith explores the formal characteristics of the Dusty Miller plant—a hardy, relatively pest-resistant plant tolerant of heat, drought, and poor soils. Considered as an object, its leaves have wonderfully deep undulations accompanied by sweeping round edges. Smith’s work Dusty Miller studies the plant’s leafy form and distills it down to essential, repeating shapes. In his subsequent works Untitled (1955) and Untitled (1958), this strategy of minimizing continues and is emphasized further by magnifying sections of the plant. The act of magnification gives Smith the opportunity to play with new compositional possibilities, each dramatically different from the preceding image.

Untitled (1955) presents an asymmetrical vertical structure dominated by a rhythm established by three misshapen “lollipop” shapes. The image’s framework appears to derive from the act of magnification or “zooming-in” on the leafy shapes found in Dusty Miller. The pattern is non-uniform and the defining contour lines are speckled with angular articulations. Untitled (1958) continues this magnification tactic, focusing on a single node in the leaf’s structure.


At this point the subject or plant has become completely abstracted. The contour lines are crisp and smooth, leaning into a pop aesthetic. A viewer’s sense of space becomes disoriented as the figure-ground relationship becomes confused, existing in a state of fluctuation between positive and negative space. As abstraction takes hold, the plant form now more closely resembles the interlocking tabs of puzzle pieces.

During this same time period in the 1950s, Smith was inspired by a Spaulding athletic equipment catalogue that led him to become fascinated with the form of the sphere. Basketballs and balls used in other sports, Smith reported, “showed me how to use the curvilinear form with an inner circle.” The OSU Museum of Art dedicates a small but impactful section of the exhibition to this subject, demonstrating the connection of Spaulding sports balls to Smith’s work. On display is a Spaulding catalogue, basketball, can of tennis balls, and two baseballs. Smith’s response to these materials leads to an exploration of curvilinear relationships that utilizes

overlapping circles to generate new shapes and formal relationships. Untitled (black and white, 1956) combines three circles to create a single form within a larger circle. Through the 1960s Smith persists in his investigation of the sphere, and his compositions become larger and more complex. He begins to use multiple shapes displayed in dynamic arrays on curvilinear canvases that engage the space around them in an interplay of positive and negative relationships. Color emerges as an active character in these works, providing additional optic complexities and furthering the connection between Smith and the Pop Art movement.

The Kravis Collection complements the Smith exhibition wonderfully by providing us with an understanding of the relationship between the artist’s work and the greater design trends of the day. Placed throughout the gallery, modern design objects such as lamps, chairs, tables, radios, and ceramics connect visually with Smith’s works, which acquire their complexity through interactions of basic

Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1955, acrylic on canvasette, 19 7/8” x 16” | OSU Museum of Art Leon Polk Smith, Untitled, 1958, marker and gouache on paper, 24” x 19 ¾” | OSU Museum of Art

geometric forms. Confronted by his artwork and these objects in dialogue with one another, we glean a robust understanding of the ways-of-seeing that form the basis of modernist aesthetics during the mid-20th century. We are left with a warmly dynamic connection to an aesthetic based in hard lines, fundamental geometry, flat surfaces, and monochromatic areas of color.

BENJAMIN MURPHY is a Canadian-born artist who sees the language of art as an expanding one and utilizes the mediums of painting, drawing, printmaking, and digital fabrication. His work examines our evolving understanding of the physical world, technology, and the anthropogenic impacts of climate change. Murphy is the Assistant Professor of Studio Art at OSU and holds an MFA in Painting from the University of Oklahoma. You can learn more about his work at

ABOVE // Exhibition view of Leon Polk Smith: Affinities in Art & Design at the OSU Museum of Art | Phil Shockley; RIGHT // Leon Polk Smith: Untitled [black and white], 1956, pencil, ink, and paint; and Red-Black, 1958, oil on canvas. Spaulding basketball (ca. 2010), catalogue (1954), tennis ball w/canister (1950), and baseball (1960) | Benjamin Murphy Curated by Arlette Klaric, Leon Polk Smith: Affinities in Art & Design can be seen at the OSU Museum of Art in Stillwater until January 27, 2024.


A process of reconciliation is central to the work and practice of Shin-hee Chin. A fiber and mixed-media artist born in Korea who has lived in the United States for over two decades, her work straddles and interrogates opposed dualities: east and west, art and craft, female and male. Chin’s art practice has helped her work through these binaries productively to ultimately reconcile her with her world. This fall, Shin-hee Chin presents Entangled Harmony, a solo exhibition, at 108|Contemporary in Tulsa from October 6 to November 19.

Chin works to generate, she says, a “proudly feminine territory” that gives voice to female experiences that can be felt by a wide audience. The threads and fiber of most of her collaged works address the historical undervaluing of women’s labor. The technique Chin employs, a layered and laborious process of hand stitching, connects her creative process to the corporeal experience of birthing that recalls “the gradual forming of the fetus through the intersection of capillaries within the belly of the mother, or the silkworm’s patient and continuous spinning leading to the creation of its cocoon.” For Chin, this process of obsessive weaving, linking, layering, and patterning is an exploration and recovery of an ecstatic maternal condition which dynamically creates life.

Some of Chin’s earlier works are explicit in their preoccupation with feminine experience. Woman’s Life, 2016, consists of a mixed-media collage box containing nine embroidery hoops that depict different stages of a woman’s life such as childhood, adolescence, and middle age. More recent works focus on Chin’s place in the Midwest, specifically the plains of Kansas where she currently lives and teaches at Tabor College in Hillsboro. These fiber works present intricate portraits of natural settings, showing trees in winter, sprawling prairie, and expansive grasslands in a rainbow of layered, woven color.

Though void of human figures, they don’t feel remote or uninhabitable. Rather the points of view generated in these works put viewers at the center of nature. Pieces like The Trees in Late Autumn, 2020, can make you feel like you are stepping into the scene, enveloped by darkness with brassy grass crunching underfoot as you move toward a cluster of skeletal, bare-limbed trees.

Chin reconciles her place within many different worlds. The body is always central to her work, whether depicted or not, as Chin’s technique recalls our cellular makeup, or the web of the universe, both a tangled weave of interconnected lines and mass. The woven planes and structures she creates implicate the body in their forms and resulting images. Looking for her place in the world, she engages the audience in discovering its own place within nature through a universal and visceral lens. A new work on view at 108|Contemporary, Entangled Harmony, represents the “symbiotic relationship between nature and humankind,” Chin says, “symbolizing intimate dialogues and embracing the mysterious, restorative force of nature.”

Embracing the Void, a woven sculptural work also visible at 108, comprises 23 panels hung from the ceiling in front of the windows that front Reconciliation Way, the street outside the gallery. Originally hung from the limbs of trees, this current installation of the work will allow viewers to weave themselves through the panels and experience how light and air move through the crevices between threads.

Shin-hee Chin’s exhibition represents the culmination of 108|Contemporary’s 10th Anniversary year. The gallery, founded as the Brady Craft Alliance in 2009, was renamed 108|Contemporary in 2013 when it moved into the newly restored and renovated Mathews Warehouse. Already dedicated to bringing craft artists to Tulsa with exhibitions

Shin-hee Chin, The Trees in the Late Autumn, 2020, random weave and stitch on recycled blankets, 54.5” x 59.5” | Courtesy of the artist

like VisionMakers, 108|Contemporary’s signature juried biennial exhibition of contemporary fine craft-based regional artists, the gallery’s move to its current location cemented its relevance to both the Tulsa Arts District and the wider Oklahoma art scene. 108 made its official debut in the Mathews Warehouse in March of 2013 with the Tapestries of Jon Eric Riis, which showcased ornate jackets and tapestries as an expansive example of the state of American craft.

The idea of reconciliation is central to 108|Contemporary and the Tulsa Arts District as well. The street on which the gallery sits, originally named Brady Street after Wyatt Tate Brady, a Tulsa city founder and member of the Ku Klux Klan, was rededicated 10 years ago to honor Mathew Brady, a Civil War photographer with, controversially, no connection to Tulsa. The street was renamed again in 2018 to become Reconciliation Way, in reference to the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Though further reconciliation and meaningful reparations are needed for the victims of the 1921 massacre and the city as a whole, 108|Contemporary thoughtfully partakes in some of the work required.

Exhibitions mounted at 108|Contemporary over the

last 10 years have ranged from 2013’s show Ceramic Landscape: Bean Finneran, the gallery’s first presentation of ceramic work. The exhibition, which included an interactive component, left a lasting imprint on 108 and its commitment to hands-on audience engagement. Later shows, like the 2016 exhibition Savages & Princesses: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes curated by America Meredith, showcased 16 Native American artists and prompted questions of race, representation, and sovereignty. Continuing the gallery’s dedication to creating space for challenging conversations, 108’s 2017 exhibition Both Sides Now: Joyes Scott & Sonya Clark centered on race, identity, and injustice and was complemented with robust programming that supported open dialogue. More recent exhibitions include SHENEQUA: Wove, which brought the Afro-Caribbean artist to Tulsa in 2022 and showcased her synthetic hair-woven tapestries that center on intimacy, class, and memory.

A recent conversation with Jen Boyd Martin, 108|Contemporary’s Executive Director, and Board President Jean Ann Fausser affirmed the gallery’s commitment to progressive practice. Building from their success with social-centered programs, such as Any Given

Exterior view of 108|Contemporary hosting Shelter: Patrick Dougherty & Rachel Hayes in 2018 | Courtesy of 108|Contemporary

Child and their Crafting for All Workshops, Martin added that “all of our events and lectures will now have sign language interpretation, along with events specifically targeted toward those groups.” The last 10 years have strengthened 108|Contemporary’s vision of contemporary craft and purpose as a space for community inclusion, dialogue, and education.

Shin-hee Chin’s Entangled Harmony can be experienced at 108|Contemporary in Tulsa from October 6 through November 19. You can learn more about this exhibition as well as events surrounding 108|Contemporary’s 10-year anniversary at

CASSIDY PETRAZZI is an art historian and writer. Her research interests focus on Fluxus, the bodily experience of time-based works, and histories of cooking. A New Yorker by birth, Petrazzi lives in Tulsa with her husband, twin boys, and dachshund. She received her MA in Art History from OSU and her BFA in Expanded Media from Alfred University. Petrazzi works in Tulsa at The Synagogue where she is director of operations.

TOP // Shin-hee Chin, Woman’s Life, 2012, mixed media collage box with 12” embroidery hoops, mulberry paper, silk, cotton, 13” x 13” x 7” | Courtesy of the artist MIDDLE // Shin-hee Chin, Woman’s Life 6 - Motherhood, 2012, mixed media collage on embroidery hoop, 12” x 12” | Courtesy of the artist BOTTOM // Installation view of The Tapestries of Jon Eric Riis at 108|Contemporary in 2013 | Courtesy of 108|Contemporary


The inaugural Oklahoma Visionaries Art Exhibit opens at Liggett Studios in Tulsa, from October 13 through November 3, and will be shown again in 2024 at Owens Art Place Museum in Guthrie from March 15 through April 19. Twenty “visionary” artists—self-taught artists also known sometimes as “outsider” artists—will showcase their original work.

Oklahoma Visionaries co-curator Pam Hodges has a longstanding interest in visionary art. She lived in Atlanta for several years, a hotbed for visionary artists, and then wondered why there were not more resources for them in Oklahoma. About the most she could find on the subject was the book Folk Art in Oklahoma, published in 1981 by the Oklahoma Museums Association. Folk art, however, is distinct from visionary art. Folk art is baked in tradition and fosters community, whereas visionary art is more novel and concerned with the individual.

In August 2022, having recently read the New York Times article “The Enduring Appeal of the Self-Taught Artist,” Hodges saw Liggett Studios’ call for exhibit proposals. She filled out her visionary artist proposal as best she could— having recently moved back to Tulsa, she did not know any artists who fit the bill. Steve Liggett, artist and proprietor of Liggett Studios, loved the idea and the challenge of tracking artists down. They decided to be co-curators and settled on the term “visionaries” rather than the more prevalent “outsider artists” because of the latter term’s negative and exclusionary connotations.

Liggett also has ties to visionary art. “M.T. Liggett said, ‘A man is never known by the things he doesn’t say,’ and visionary artists in Oklahoma have a lot to say!” The late self-taught artist Myron Thomas Liggett, well-known for his provocative roadside sculptures, is Steve Liggett’s fourth cousin. When M.T. expressed his desire to protect his sculptures after his death, Steve worked with the John

Michael Kohler Foundation in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and the 547 Arts Center in Greensburg, Kansas, to collect and preserve them in Mullinville, Kansas.

Hodges and Liggett wrongly assumed a list of Oklahoma visionary artists existed to use as a jumping-off point, but they had to start from scratch. Molly O’Connor of the Oklahoma Arts Council helped them narrow the exhibit’s scope, find artists, and connect them with artist Wallace Owens, owner of Owens Art Place Museum, to collaborate further. For nearly a year, they searched the state for qualifying artists. Ultimately, they received 50 submissions that fit the criteria: Oklahoma residents who are self-taught, unconcerned with the mainstream art world, driven by their uniquely personal visions, and have experienced marginalization. Among the twenty artists selected, 10 hail from Tulsa, three from the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, three from OKC, and one each from Norman, Bartlesville, Cache, and Edmond.

One of the Tulsa artists, April McDaniel, has a personal quote that echoes M.T. Liggett’s: “If you are not seen, you will never be known.” McDaniel is currently renovating her home and studio space, a condemned and partially burned (!) house, with colorful murals. McDaniel hopes to replicate this process of renovating condemned homes to address the homeless crisis. Artist Nicole Moan also lives in a creative home-studio hybrid. Handmade tiles mosaic her home, which acts as a testing space for client work.

“My house is my portfolio,” says Moan.

Despite strong submission turnout, almost all applicants were from cities. Shaun Roberto, a participating rural artist, lives in Cache and is a self-taught woodworker who has always been interested in working with his hands. YouTube is his teacher, but the materials he uses, wood and driftwood, are his creative guides.

Ra Vashtar, Open Minded, 2020, mixed media, 16” x 20” | All images courtesy of Pamela Hodges, Steve Liggett, and the Oklahoma Visionaries artists

The three artists incarcerated at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center—Sonia Weidenfelder, Michele Knight, and Beverly Moore—all worked with the Tulsa nonprofit Poetic Justice, which offers writing and creative arts programs in women’s prisons and jails. Mass incarceration ostracizes people from society, holding them far-removed and often forgotten, but through their art, these women say, in effect, we are still here. We still have something to offer.

Early on, Hodges wondered, “Is it the work that is visionary or is it the person?” After getting to know the artists, she concluded that it’s the person who is visionary and their art manifests their vision. Some irony is unavoidable with exhibits that spotlight unknown artists, giving them exposure while highlighting their obscurity. Although some make their living exclusively from their art, and others supplement their income through sales or commissions, they all share something beyond the visionary criteria: they would still make art even if no one saw it.

Oklahoma Visionaries was recently awarded a Thrive Grant by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition in partnership with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Funds will help pay artists’ stipends, ship art, and store artwork. Poverty or lack are common themes among the show’s 20 artists, both demographically and artistically—as Josh Waddell’s assemblages of broken, discarded, or unused objects testify. Significantly, people are more likely to pursue the arts if they come from financially secure backgrounds. A 2019 study “The Origins of Creativity: The Case of the Arts in the United States since 1850” found that, for every extra $10K a family has, their children are 2% more likely to work in the arts. Creative work is undervalued in our society, so it is a risky and low-paying career option that mainly the privileged can pursue, but self-taught and folk artists are antidotes to classism in the art world. We need more working-class artists because we need their stories. Oklahoma Visionaries proves that anyone can be an artist and art is everywhere.

Liggett says that Oklahoma Visionaries “has been a wild ride, but very fulfilling in starting something that will continue honoring and encouraging Oklahoma visionaries into

TOP LEFT // April McDaniel, House of Unconditional Love, 2022, mixed media, 48” x 36”; LEFT // Beverly Moore, ReBirth, 2023, acrylic on canvas board, 14” x 18”

the future. It’s just a beginning, but we have started something grand, we believe.” A second iteration of Oklahoma Visionaries is scheduled for fall 2025, and an evolving directory of Oklahoma visionary artists, based on research from this exhibit, is expected to go live in January 2024.

Oklahoma Visionaries can be seen from October 13 through November 3 at Liggett Studios in Tulsa and then from March 15 through April 19 at Owens Art Place Museum in Guthrie.

OLIVIA DAILEY has a BA in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She works as a media production coordinator in Norman and is a frequent contributor to Art Focus.

Josh Waddell, KP-82, 2022, mixed media, 68” tall


Artist Jaime Misenheimer literally laid the railroad tracks that, figuratively, took her on the journey of a lifetime: working on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Misenheimer’s partner’s family owns AOK, a shortline railroad in southeastern Oklahoma that was contracted by the movie’s art director to construct railroad tracks for the film. Through that work, Misenheimer—a painter and former university art instructor—was selected to appear as an extra in the film as well.  Now she is co-curating an art show featuring arts and crafts made by herself and other extras in the movie.

The Flower Moon Art Show opens at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery on Friday, October 6, in anticipation of the national release of the movie later in the month. The film tells the story of the Osage “reign of terror” in the 1920s, when white criminals killed Osage people for their oil headrights.

Helping tell the story of the Osage reign of terror deeply moved the extras—or “background actors,” as they’re often known. “Working with Osage actors was very emotional. They had relatives who were affected. We didn’t have to be told to cry on set because we were already crying,” said Misenheimer, who is Choctaw. “It was the most incredible experience of my life.” Since the film wrapped, a group of about 20 of the extras have met at area restaurants once a month for over a year. Since many of them create art or traditional native crafts, Misenheimer had the idea to organize an exhibit of their works.

In addition to curating the show, Misenheimer will have her own paintings in the exhibition, impressionistic oil scenes and portraits that she made while she was a

background actor. “This show is unique in that it combines the work of trained artists, craftspeople, and outsider artists. It incorporates painting, photography, beadwork, and other media, and at the opening, we’re planning to host performances of spoken word and poetry,” said Colleen Stiles, Tulsa Artists’ Coalition president. “We are honored to help tell this story.”

Misenheimer said that, since extras have a lot of down time, she began painting oils of some of them during production and giving them their finished portraits. Misenheimer also gave fellow extra Alex DeRoin impromptu art lessons on set. DeRoin will have several mixed media works in the show. In his art, he said he has combined his activism with the Landback movement with Dada art theory to create his own genre that he has named “House of Landada.”

DeRoin created his works for the show by combining mixed media with digital art. His works fall into two categories: paintings of Osage County landscapes, which are reminiscent of book covers from old Westerns with their saturated colors, extreme contrast, and stylized shapes; and mixed-media collages employing the scratch technique, through which he uses an instrument like a stylus to scratch through the paint’s surface to reveal different layers or colors beneath. DeRoin uses this technique in pieces expressing his political views about Native American sovereignty and oil companies. He combines scratching with clippings of newspaper headlines and vintage photographs copied from old Osage County newspapers contemporary with the reign of terror.

Misenheimer’s paintings reflect her years of experience as a painter and art teacher. For the exhibit, she will show mostly

OPPOSITE // Alex DeRoin, Wolves Den, 2022, collage and acrylic, 14” x 11” | Courtesy of the artist

oil paintings she created on set. Her experience shows in her ability to capture a person’s essence in just a few rough brushstrokes. For example, in Portrait of Aurelius she presents a young boy whom the viewer can tell is full of mischief. In addition to her character portraits, she paints dreamlike landscapes that exquisitely capture the quiet beauty of the Osage hills. Misenheimer achieves these works with muted colors and loose brushwork. In her landscapes, she also uses contrasting streaks of bright pastels to portray the intense western light at sundown. With an exceptional ability to match her medium to the scene, in Field Light Misenheimer renders a man on horseback during a fierce rain shower with the fine markings of watercolor pencil.

Since they played such an important part of the design of Killers of the Flower Moon, traditional crafts are also featured in the show. Chris Iron, an extra in the movie, has been making moccasins since she was 12. When production first started in 2021, costume designer Jacqueline West ordered 200 handmade moccasins from Iron. To fill such a large order, Iron recruited her mother to help. Iron’s moccasin styles range from being covered with beadwork to plain buckskin.

Jeremy Good Voice was promoted from being a background actor to having a speaking part in the film. He is descended from three tribes: Muskogee, Choctaw, and Lakota. In addition to his part in the movie, he also learned to drive the antique cars used on set. Good Voice’s art practices are sketching and beadwork. He commonly uses the peyote stitch in his colorful pieces, several of which appear in the show.

Jerry Logsdon was an extra who read about the movie on social media. He is a 23-year-old Cherokee citizen and lives

LEFT // Jaime Misenheimer, Portait of Aurelius, (PI), 2022, oil on paper, 30” x 22” | Courtesy of the artist; ABOVE // Chris Iron, Striped Moccasins, 2021, Buckskin, glass beads | Courtesy of the artist; OPPOSITE RIGHT// Extras during production of Killers of the Flower Moon | Cody Hammer courtesy of Osage News

in Tahlequah where he works as a forklift operator. Although he hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since elementary school, when he heard about the Flower Moon Art Show, he painted an acrylic work with the seal of the Osage nation represented as a flower and the words “Survivors of the Flower Moon.” He had never heard of the reign of terror until he worked on the movie.

Cody Hammer lucked into his work as the only still photographer allowed on set. He had recently started a job as a photographer for the Osage News, the monthly newspaper based in Pawhuska, when production came to town. Although Apple Original Films, which produced the movie, didn’t pay him, they didn’t allow any other photographers on set.

The Flower Moon Art Show can be seen at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery from October 6 through October 28. For more information, see

SALLIE CARY GARDNER is retired from a long career in writing and public relations. Her assemblage art was featured in Reflections, a group show at the TAC Gallery in March.


“OKLAHOMA, 1970-1988”

I cry out for order and find it only in art. - Helen Hayes

My first exposure to art was in the living room of my grandparents’ tiny house: a large, heavily framed, textured canvas that hung over their couch and depicted a nineteenthcentury street scene.

I loved that picture. I probably spent hours of my life kneeling on the couch, gazing up at it. It disappeared at some point—a casualty of one of my grandmother’s redecorating flurries— but it was there for my childhood. Its dark tones were like a John Atkinson Grimshaw townscape, one with men and women walking in the lamp-lit night beside a horse-drawn carriage.

It was a great statement piece. A picture the size of a toboggan would be attention-arresting on its own, but the lack of glass and the thick, rough surface, meant to evoke the gravitas of oil paint, really set it apart.

There weren’t fancy pseudo-paintings in any of the other living rooms in our little southeast Oklahoma City neighborhood, which was a run-down area where the biggest local businesses are, to this day, strip clubs and motels. It was even a little ostentatious for my grandmother, who was a big fan of intricate, imitation Victorian tchotchkes, the kind you have to use Q-Tips to clean. But what captivated me most was the question my grandfather would occasionally ask me about it.

“Can you see him?” he would ask me quietly, as I sat staring. “Can you see the Indian behind that tree?” (I could substitute “Native American” here, to be politically correct, but I think we all know that a guy born in Depression-era Oklahoma did not use that term.)

Each time I looked, my grandfather explained that the Indian behind the tree was just about to jump out and surprise the folks who were so nonchalantly parading around on land that had once belonged to him and his ancestors before him. There were times when I thought I could see him.

That was my first realization that pictures could contain more than what can be easily discerned at first glance, that they could be built upon unseen things and have stories under the surface. It was also an awakening to the fact that early American art always has two sides—at least.

When I sat down with artist Yatika Starr Fields, one of the things I wanted to know was how it feels, as an Indigenous person, to see these types of 19th century American paintings.

“I appreciate the imagery created by artists like George Catlin and others. It’s like a time machine back to a place in history. Now, what’s in those paintings is a mirage of the past, a nostalgic keepsake.” Yatika was quick to add that he can only speak for himself, not for every Native person.

“Today you see portraits of the chiefs—they’re everywhere

John Atkinson Grimshaw, Near Hackness, A Moonlit Scene with Pine Trees, 1875, oil on card and panel, 55.5 x 44.3 cm

now and part of the fabric of America. We needed work like Catlin’s to be able to have that.”

“Every discussion you have about Native art, and Native histories, it’s going to be different, depending who you talk to. As Indigenous people we’re one, yes, but we’re so many different tribes—and different families and clans and people and experiences within those tribes, each with different trauma.”

Like me, Yatika grew up in Oklahoma. But whereas my grandfather’s commentary about our nation’s—and specifically our state’s—treatment of Indigenous people came to me via banter about our living room art, Yatika got a more pointed education from his father, Tom Fields.

“My dad was part of the Alcatraz takeover back in the day. Actually, the UCLA takeover before.”

I brought up something that has haunted me in recent years. When I was a kid in the 70s, (cough), we would “celebrate” the Land Run by dressing as pioneers, bringing our wagons to school, and staking out claims on the school playground. Yatika just shrugs when I ask if his school did it too.

“They did, but…I didn’t go to school that day.”

Because Tom Fields wasn’t having it. He didn’t accept 1889 reenactments as a fun way to commemorate history.

My grandfather was similar to Yatika’s dad in that he was also an out-of-the-box guardian and teacher, but different in that I can’t remember many conversations when he gave me direct instruction about values. I simply watched how he lived and picked up on the ideology couched in his teasing and irreverent humor.

There wasn’t a visible Native American in the painting above our couch. But my grandfather’s encouragement to look for one made me realize that every piece of American art has Indigenous people in the background. Whether you can see them or not.

JILL FARR is a journalist and author. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives in Portland, Oregon. “Oklahoma, 1970-1988” is an excerpt from her forthcoming book, A Barbarian Basking in Beauty: How I Found Love In Art. To get on the waiting list for a copy, visit or email her at

YATIKA STARR FIELDS is an artist with an emphasis on studio painting. A member of the Osage, Cherokee, and Mvskoke Nations, he currently lives and works in Tulsa, where he is from, as a fellow with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. His artistic endeavors have taken him around the world. You can learn more about his art at

Yatika Starr Fields, Osage Shield Horizon, Tethered Nations, 2021, oil on spray paint on canvas, 72” x 72” | Courtesy of the artist



Apply August - October | Exhibit in November


Apply November - January | Exhibit in February


Apply January - February | Exhibit in March


Apply May - June | Exhibit in July


Apply July - August | Exhibit in September

Providing artists opportunities to connect with the community P A S E O A R T S & C R E A T I V I T Y C E N T E R 3 0 2 4 P A S E O


Throughout history, the arts have been essential to our shared human experience. They are the threads that weave the rich tapestry of our culture and heritage, serving as a mirror, reflecting our past, as well as a window onto the infinite possibilities of our future.

In Art Focus and across all our programs, OVAC has the privilege of showcasing the incredible talent and innovation of artists and creators from across Oklahoma. Whether through the strokes of a paintbrush, the heat of a kiln, the click of a camera shutter, the warp and weft of a loom or through the written word, artists bring their visions to life to spark conversations, provoke thought, and tell stories. They capture moments in time, preserving cultural traditions and challenging conventional wisdom.

I hope you’ll join us, with this issue of Art Focus, by immersing yourself in the visions of our talented community and celebrating the enduring importance of the visual arts in Oklahoma. I also encourage you to visit our website and follow us on social media to learn about other ways OVAC is expanding the possibilities the visual arts can hold for our world and the unique lens they offer, through which we can explore the depths of human emotion, creativity, and imagination.

For example, in October, we open applications for artists ages 30 and younger to participate in Momentum 2024 . Another cycle of Artists Grants will be available


Narciso Arguelles

Kelly Armstrong

Lynette Atchley

Leslie Aubrey

Alfredo Baeza

Patrick Bones

Michelle Bradsher

Tammy Brummell

Meghan Buchanan

Karin Cermak

Karis Chambers

Jack Chapman

Glenda Cobb

Sheryl Craig

Jason Cytacki

Bryan Dahlvang

Kasey Davis

Sarah Day-Short

Virginia Dowling

Liz Eagleton

Whitney Forsyth

Joan Frimberger

Cassidy Frye

Amy Garner

Austin Gober

Jean Griffin

Patricia Harper

Janet Hawks

Walt and Jean Hendrickson

Todd Horner

Cybele Yanez Hsu

Zoey Hughes

Pamela Husky

Jessica Kinsey

Beverly Kirk

Paula Klaassen

Jacquelyn Knapp

Michele Koopman

Tania Landers

as well. Oklahoma City University’s Hulsey Art Gallery will host the arts panel “Understanding Originality & Appropriation” on October 12, and we will offer our Photo Studio on Oct. 27.

Our traveling exhibition 24 Works on Paper will move to Centre Arts Gallery at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant from Oct. 16 to Nov. 24 before making the final stop on its tour from Dec. 9 to Feb. 14 at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, home of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, in Oklahoma City. And then, on November 16, Woodworks Distilling Co. in OKC will host another iteration of our Art Crit Night.

Thank you for being a part of our artistic journey. May we all be a source of inspiration and reflection—as well as appreciation for the transformative power of the arts.

Warm regards,

Chelsi LeBarre

Paula Liotine

Rebecca Lucht

Dru Marseilles

Bobby C. Martin

Mark Maxted

Michelle McCrory

Joseph McGlon III

Ginger McGovern

Lisa McIlroy

Suzanne Wallace Mears

Michelle (Mikie)


Sheryl Miller

Faye Miller

Kortny Miller

Nicole Moan

Connie Moore

Caryl Morgan

Benjamin Murphy

Kirsten Olds

Haley Prestifilippo

Maya R

Sarah Robl

Amy Rockett-Todd

Kathy Rodgers

Lauren Rucker

Tim Ryan

Jay Sage

Donna Savage

Steven Schmidt

Kendall Schulz

Thomas Shupe

David Smith

Sammie Smith

Cheryl Smith

William Struby

Jonene Swigart

Cheri Tatum

Steve Tomlin

Sean Tyler

Sandy Wallace

BJ White

Kathy White

Justin Wilson

Jason Wilson

Cody Wilson

Becky Young

To join or renew your membership, visit or call 405-879-2400, ex. 1.
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9/1-10/20 Art Crit Applications 10/4-11/5 Momentum Emerging Curator, Spotlight Artists and Survey Artists Applications Open 10/12 Understanding Originality & Appropriation Arts Panel. OCU’s Hulsey Gallery, OKC 10/15 Grants for Artists Deadline 10/16-11/24 24 Works on Paper . Centre Arts Gallery, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant 10/27 Photo Studio 11/16 Art Crit Night. Woodworks Distilling Co., OKC 12/9-2/14 24 Works on Paper Gaylord-Pickens Museum, OKC
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