Art Focus Oklahoma, January/February 2013

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ArtOFocus k l a h o m a

O k l a ho ma V i s ual A r ts C oal i t i on

Vo l u m e 2 8 N o . 1

January/February 2013

Art OFocus k l a h o m a from the editor In this issue of Art Focus Oklahoma, you’ll gain a bit of insight into the work of curators. Though art audiences are often unaware, their viewing experience is anticipated thoughtfully and shaped by the curator behind the scenes. Selecting artworks based around a framework of ideas, placing them within the exhibition space, and analyzing the work in writing are some of the ways a curator helps to mediate the relationship between the viewer and the work. In Concept/OK Guest Curators Delve in (p. 4), Liza Statton and Alison Hearst share their process of making selections and working with artists to create OVAC’s new exhibition. Having a diverse background in creating exhibitions and collaborating with artists, Liza and Alison brought fresh and informed perspectives to the curatorial process. Preparing for the annual Art Now exhibition at City Arts Center (p. 14), curator Louise Siddons visited many Oklahoma artist studios before selecting the 25 artists for the show. In the article, Louise discusses how looking at the work in the studio helped to form the exhibition’s theme and revealed things about her own interests and preferences in the process. Though she began the process with a strong background in art history and curatorial work, her approach to this exhibition allowed her to build upon her knowledge and learn something new. While curators might spend a lot of time molding the art viewing experience for audiences, they also serve as a source of insight for the artists. Curators are known to be avid learners and lookers, always watching to see what artists will do next. With a thorough understanding of current art making, as well as the relevant history preceding it, a curator can offer a layer of understanding that even the artists themselves may not realize. The next time you visit an exhibition, I encourage you to consider how and why those particular artworks are there. Why are these two paintings placed next to each other? What does the decision to group these artists together in this place at this time say about the work? The curator, having spent much time and thought, probably has an answer (or answers) for you.

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition 730 W. Wilshire Blvd., Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 ph: 405.879.2400 • e: visit our website at: Executive Director: Julia Kirt Editor: Kelsey Karper Art Director: Anne Richardson

Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into and providing current information about the visual arts in Oklahoma. Mission: Supporting Oklahoma’s visual arts and artists and their power to enrich communities. OVAC welcomes article submissions related to artists and art in Oklahoma. Call or email the editor for guidelines. OVAC welcomes your comments. Letters addressed to Art Focus Oklahoma 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 will not be published. Please include a phone number. OVAC Board of Directors July 2012 - June 2013: R.C. Morrison, Bixby; Patrick Kamann, Margo Shultes von Schlageter, MD (Treasurer), Christian Trimble, Edmond; Eric Wright, El Reno; Traci Layton, Enid; Suzanne Mitchell (President), Norman; Jennifer Barron (Vice President), Susan Beaty (Secretary), Bob Curtis, Gina Ellis, Hillary Farrell, Michael Hoffner, Kristin Huffaker, Stephen Kovash, Carl Shortt, Oklahoma City; Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs; Jean Ann Fausser, Susan Green, Janet Shipley Hawks, Kathy McRuiz, Sandy Sober, Tulsa The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition is solely responsible for the contents of Art Focus Oklahoma. 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. © 2013, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved.

Kelsey Karper

View the online archive at

Support from:

On the cover Denny Schmickle, Tulsa, Neighborhood Watch, part of the Processed exhibition at Living Arts in Tulsa, January 4-24. See page 10.



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4 Concept/OK Guest Curators Delve In

Liza Statton and Alison Hearst discuss their experiences curating the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition, sharing their process and practice.

8 Unnatural Selection: Digital Show Examines Society’s Drive to be Perfect

Combining elements of traditional media, new media, and performance, Norman artist Robert Dohrmann created a web-based work commenting on society’s desire for perfection.

p re v i e w s 10 Previewing Processed at Living Arts

In an upcoming exhibition, a group of Tulsa artists demonstrate the various applications of the printmaking process.

12 Stuart Asprey’s Beer Bash at the Moon Tower and Other Recent Work

Employing humor, and perhaps a bit of irreverence, Stuart Asprey’s upcoming exhibition of ceramic works at East Central University explores the role of alcohol in society.


14 Art Now Features Homegrown Artists

Curated by Louise Siddons, City Arts Center’s annual fundraiser features artwork that speaks to a sense of time and place.

16 Contemporary Explorations

A new exhibition at MAINSITE art gallery in Norman debuts the work of six new artists with very diverse artistic processes.

18 Paradise Lost

An exhibition of photographic essays at [Artspace] at Untitled gallery in Oklahoma City includes photographic collectives from around the world, all creating work about the environment.

20 RAW Digs Oklahoma’s Underground


A monthly event in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, RAW: Natural Born Artists provides a venue for emerging artists of all disciplines.

f e a t u re s 22 On the Map: Alva’s Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios

Nestled in the downtown square of Alva’s Arts District, Graceful Arts includes a gallery and studio space, and has quickly become a gathering place for the community.

24 I’m Still Here: Art and Alzheimer’s

With a goal of improving the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease, several museums in Oklahoma offer opportunity for creative expression through the arts.

business of art 16 Ask a Creativity Coach: Got Talent? Motivation Matters More The Creativity Coach gives her take on the “10,000 hour rule,” and how practice can turn good to great.


OVAC news

28 New & Renewing Members 29

gallery guide

(p. 4) William Struby, Oklahoma City, Pink + Red, Acrylic, paper, modeling paste, plastic, 10” x 7.25” x ¾” (p. 16) Krystle Brewer, Stillwater, Apartment Life, Ceramics, wood and glass, 15” x 15” x 4.5” (p. 22) Inside Alva’s Graceful Arts Gallery & Studios


Concept/OK Guest Curators Delve In by Julia Kirt

Guest curators serve a pivotal role in the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s (OVAC) programs. Since OVAC began organizing exhibitions in 1991, OVAC has recruited guest curators to envision and carry out our exhibitions. OVAC staff coordinates the administrative parts of the exhibition while the guest curators work with the artists and oversee the exhibition’s concept and design. These guest curators bring different expertise to each project with perspectives from their own education, institutional experience, networks and communities. Participating artists benefit from access to the outside curators’ feedback. In choosing the artists, guest curators rely heavily on the merits of the artwork, rather than relationships, the artists’ past work or personality. While this curatorial process has limitations and can be short-term, the more impartial selection process may validate

already-successful artists from the area and bring to light under-recognized artists. The exhibition’s audience gains new insights from the artwork, arrangement and the curator’s writing. In turn, curators appreciate learning about new artists and delving into a different art scene. Their in-depth relationship with our community and artists may be brief, but intense. For the Concept/OK exhibition, we recruited the guest curators because of their background working with artists on ambitious projects and experience developing contemporary art exhibitions in a variety of contexts. Survey and Focus Curator Liza Statton curates independently in her newly-adopted home country of Australia. Previously, she served as Exhibitions Director at Artspace in New Haven, CT and a Curatorial Fellow at SITE

Santa Fe, NM. Residency Curator Alison Hearst co-founded the experimental curatorial collaborative Subtext Projects and acts as Assistant Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. She frequently contributes writing to regional art journals and served as curator for OVAC’s Momentum 2012 exhibition in Oklahoma City. Their thoughtful approaches to their curatorial practices and this exhibition have been evident not only in their attentive conversations with the artists but also their navigation of the myriad of communications over the past two years. Certainly preparing exhibitions requires the insightful vision and practical execution of many, but especially so for our guest curators. Q: You both were recruited to be a part of this project several years ago (early 2010 to be precise). Why did you agree to guest curate then? How is your motivation similar or different today, as the exhibition is about to open? Hearst: Even though it was over two years ago that I agreed to curate the residency portion of Concept/OK, my motivation now would be the same as it was then. As a curator of contemporary art, I am primarily interested in working with artists on projects that are not yet realized or in nascent stages. It’s rewarding for me to be part of that early process and to then see the work come to life, but also to serve as a springboard for ideas. I like to help make such artist projects a reality however possible, even if it is just to document the process. That’s what was appealing to me with the residency program. Statton: I have always been interested in notions of margins and centers—that is to say, how our cultural perceptions shape how we define these places, be they physical or conceptual. I have often worked in places outside of the perceived major centers of cultural production and capital marketplaces, namely New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, etc, and in my experience I have found that there is a certain freedom and flexibility in being outside of those centers. There are opportunities for experimentation and risk Bryan Cook, Oklahoma City, Little Chief, Fiber print, 20” x 20”


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on the margins and borders. If I am being totally honest here, I like uncertainty and instability. A bit crazy, I suppose, but those uncontrollable elements always make for interesting work. As for guest curating, I wanted to engage with an unfamiliar place (OK), and an institution different from my own. I wondered, what’s going on out in Oklahoma? Who’s there, and what are they up to? Curiosity had a lot to do with it. Since relocating to Melbourne, Australia in the last year or so, I was faced with the real challenge of whether or not I could actually organize this exhibition from such a distance. I am so happy to say that it’s been possible, with help and support (thanks, Julia, Kate, and Kathy), from the artists as well as their supporting institutions. Instead of landline or cell phone calls, I often speak with the artists over Skype; we email a lot, too. I am looking forward to seeing so many of their ideas come into physical form. That process is always quite magical.

Concept/OK: Residency artist Sarah Hearn explains her process of research and study during a studio visit with curator Alison Hearst.

Q: How did you approach the artists’ entries or proposals for this project, both practically and conceptually? Statton: I am not sure I can provide an exact answer to the question of “how” I approached the artists’ submissions, though I would like to think that being open to all the works presented was an important mindset for me to have. As everyone knows, art is totally subjective; however, it is an entity to be consumed, and like any other product marketed toward individuals, the “packaging” can have a lot of influence over a person’s decision to purchase it. My choices resulted from a combination of considerations: ranging from the initial impressions of the visual images submitted, to the artists’ accompanying text about their work, to the physical space the work will inhabit. My review process for this exhibition was akin to an editor’s: read, review, excise, and revise, and so on. In the end, I had a list of artists that I wanted to know more about. Hearst: I was really looking for projects that had a solid concept, worked well with the residency structure, (since this is a unique component and feature to the exhibition), were interactive in an innovative way, and that were well-thought out and feasible for the time frame, space, and budget. Many things come into play when you are organizing something like this, but first and foremost it is the artwork that is the most important!

Concept/OK Curator Liza Statton visits with Tulsa artist Grace Grothaus in her studio. Grothaus was selected as a Focus artist for the exhibition.

It was a difficult process. I think I narrowed down the proposals to about five based on what I believed were the strongest projects. Then I met with each artist to begin the dialogue, and to help weigh everything out. Q: What is it like selecting artwork from a pool of submissions versus working with artists you’re aware of or have followed? continued on page 6 Concept/OK: Residency artist Narciso Argüelles shows samples of his process during a studio visit with curator Alison Hearst.

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continued from page 5

Laurie Spencer, Tulsa, Rites of Fire (fire whistle), Ceramic, 28” x 12” x 12”

Hearst: There are positives and negatives to the pool of submissions; you can be surprised in really great ways since people are coming to you and you are not seeking out anything in particular, but then it can also be limiting as well since you have restrictions as to who submits. It’s an interesting process. Statton: Indeed, organizing an exhibition based upon the process of submission rather than invitation is quite different. There are pluses and minuses to both. The breadth and variety of submissions are important and appealing elements of that process. I reviewed work I would normally never see or consider for my own exhibitions, because it was so far afield from some of the ideas I may have been focused on, for whatever reason, at the time. Some of the submissions shifted my perspective and presented different ways to think about certain subjects. I like that. On the other hand, if you’re wedded to an idea that you want to put into a curatorial framework and the art


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Bob Hawks, Tulsa, Where there is smoke, Turned cherry wood, 25” x 5” x 5”

Sarah Atlee, Oklahoma City, Dusted, Jacketed, Acrylic on wood, 29” x 17”

submitted doesn’t really fit into your conceptual parameters, it can be a real struggle. Q: For many of the artists, your visit was their first studio visit by a curator. What was valuable to you about visiting one-on-one with the exhibition finalists? Hearst: I think studio visits are really important, because this is where the true dialogue between artist and curator begins. For the Concept/OK residencies, for example, looking through proposals and at thumbnail images initially attracted me to certain projects, but meeting face-to-face fills in many of the gaps and is much more interactive and casual/comfortable in a way. Plus, it’s fun to see how everyone works and what their context is. Often that alone sheds much light onto the work itself. Statton: Studio visits are rare and wonderful privileges. I always feel quite honored to be invited into an artist’s studio. These spaces are

so personal, and opening it up to the outside world is a brave thing to do. The amount of additional information you learn — about the artist, their work, their intentions and interests, to name a few — is immense. The studio visit starts the conversation, and often answers unasked questions. Most of the time studio visits help to clarify my thinking about the artist’s work. See the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition through February 16, 2013 at the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa. The Focus OK-KC portion of the exhibition will open at Charlotte Street Foundation’s La Esquina gallery in Kansas City on March 15. Visit for more information. n Julia Kirt has directed the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition since 1999. Despite the years, she still gets butterflies from exciting artistic projects, curatorial vision and conversations with rigorous artists.











Melton Art Gallery, UCO Art & Design Building Hours: Tue.-Fri., 10 am-4 pm



For information: (405) 974-2432

Featuring selected works from the College of Fine Arts and Design’s collection, along with selected works from the Melton Legacy Collection.


Unnatural Selection: Digital Show Examines Society’s Drive to Be Perfect by Karen Paul

Bringing together elements of traditional media, new media and performances, Robert Dohrmann’s latest work featured in the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition in Tulsa represents the culmination of the artist’s creative expression and skills. This exhibition, which Dohrmann calls the strongest of his career, shows the growth of an artist as he examines the culture in which we live.

simulated biotechnology company that promises to improve the life of individuals through a set of genetic modification products. In reality, Davison provides a much-needed discourse on the idea of improving the human race through advancements in science and technology. “Throughout history, all great inventions have started off with the idea of improving our lives. We have an idea that this new invention will make everything perfect. However, there will always be a genie in the bottle for our groundbreaking inventions. There will always be repercussions.”

Dohrmann, who is originally from Washington, first found his artistic roots in traditional media. Early on, he was inspired by his love of punk rock and the DIYethos of the punk movement. He started re-mediating images, making collages and books of re-purposed art that loudly voiced societal points of view.

The project, which has been developing over the past four years, is a collaboration with J. Craig Tompkins. Tompkins, who is currently teaching new media at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, did the 3-D modeling found throughout the site.

“Punk showed that you just need the will to create. The original artists did everything by hand. They made their own promotional materials, pressed their own records and built up punk rock,” he said. Dohrmann credits his early collage experiences with teaching him how to make multiple elements and images work in a visually appealing way. He formally studied painting and drawing in Washington before joining the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art as a faculty member in 1999. Originally, Dohrmann was reluctant to make the move to electronic media. After several discussions with his colleagues who encouraged him to try out electronic media, Dohrmann quickly found that electronic media opened up new forms of expression. It was an experience that enhanced, not hindered, his artistic gifts. “I never thought that I was going to paint digitally,” he said. “Instead, digital media gave me the ability to make my collages move and be time-based.” Digital media also changed the way Dohrmann expressed his creative vision. His art began to move away from a purely introspective and personal viewpoint to one that encouraged a discourse on our society’s motivations, mores and values.


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“We started collaborating on the project when it first began,” Tompkins said. “Working with Bob has been a lot of fun.” The exhibit’s presentation is centered on Davison Grant Genetics’ website at, which showcases the simulated company’s work in DNA advancements and sets the tone for the entire project. In these works, Dohrmann examines what he calls the “big projects that concern us all,” including the Cold War and post 9-11 America. Dohrmann’s latest work, Davison Grant Genetics, represents this latest stage in his career, integrating interactive media via a custom website, digital images, video, sound and performance elements. “Davison Grant Genetics is my favorite piece. I think it’s the strongest work that I’ve ever created. It combines everything that I’ve ever done — video, sound, presentation, Photoshop, painting.” With a tagline of “Eliminate the weak and add the best,” Davison Grant Genetics is a

“It’s intentionally tongue in cheek. It’s a corporate utopia with a kind of unsettling lack of ethics,” Tompkins said. Keeping this tone front and center, elements of the website examine the line between science and morality as the company discusses the work it is doing in the field of genetic modifications, including pharmaceutical advancements, artificial selection, genetic modifications and transhumanism. While each of these subjects seems like something from a sci-fi novel, they are all based on real scientific advancements, further adding to the irony of the work. The exhibit also includes personal interaction. At each exhibit, Davison’s pharmaceutical representatives visit with

individuals attending the show, discuss the company’s work and hand out business cards. “It’s a powerful element of the show,” Dohrmann said of the interaction between pharmaceutical representatives and viewers. “However, it’s not performance art. The representatives really are part of the piece.” The piece, like American culture itself, walks a fine line between reality and illusion and offers infinite artistic possibilities for the future. “I can see myself working on this piece for a long time,” Dohrmann said. Dohrmann and Tompkins’ Davison Grant Genetics will be shown as a part of the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition, continuing through February 16, 2013 at the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa. For more information, visit n Karen Paul is a freelance writer based in Norman, OK. Paul specializes in arts-based articles. You can contact her at karenpaulok@

Screen shots from Robert Dohrmann and Craig Tompkins’ web-based work, Davison Grant Genetics.

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Previewing Processed at Living Arts by Britt Greenwood

Artist Denny Schmickle in front of a screen-printed wallpaper installation called Beta Shampoo from 2007.

“It’s our shared processes and other aesthetic and conceptual connections that brought us together for this exhibition.” Explaining the theme of the Living Arts exhibit Processed, Denny Schmickle gives insight into the commonality of the artists displaying their screenprints January 4-24 at the Tulsa gallery. Schmickle is featured, along with May Yang and the designing duo Live4This, Aaron Whisner and Darshan Phillips. Each artist delivers their own approach to printmaking -- their own process and personal theme. Schmickle adds, “Aaron and Darshan have a beautiful technique. May’s work is so delicate and sophisticated. I think that each of us has our own distinct voice, and I believe they will harmonize well.” Schmickle, who works as a graphic designer and Assistant Professor of Art at Rogers State University, creates a variety of design


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projects for clients such as concert posters, books and websites. Schmickle shares his source of inspiration for his works: “I scour the landscape for images and ideas that I smash together to make them my own.” The artist relies on appropriation, creating a newness to the existing. He explained, “I feel that appropriation is vibrant and evocative, and I try to use it in a way that builds new narratives.” In the Processed show, Schmickle’s personal theme reflects upon “ideas about pop culture, fear, and presence. My work is a lens, reflecting and refracting the world I live in-what’s on my television, the books I read, the people I know, etc. As a father and husband, I’m charged with keeping my family safe. That responsibility weighs heavily on me, and I find myself worrying and fearing everything from slides at the park to a tiny mosquito that could infect my sons with West Nile Virus. That fear shows up in this new body of work.”

The artist also aims to create a dual feeling of being in both a retail space and a gallery space. Aspects of retail installation, design showcase and fine art and prints will all welcome visitors in Schmickle‘s portion of the show. Artist May Yang’s personal theme was surprisingly the lack of a theme. Instead, the artist “chose to focus on more formal elements and let my process lead my work.” Yang continued, “My process has been in flux. For a while, my process of painting, (and printmaking, even), was a lot more fluid and improvisational - I would put down a color/shape/element and react to that.” Now, the artist is taking a new approach by utilizing technology. Within the last year, Yang has been creating her compositional sketches in Photoshop. The artist seems pleased with the progression in her process: “This is my first large body of work done in this fashion, so it’s a new way of working for me!”

(top row) Detail of Denny Schmickle’s wallpaper installation at City Arts Center in 2012, Nevermind the Dog, Beware of Owner, screen-printed wallpaper, dimensions variable. That Dream Where All Your Teeth Fall Out, Screen-printed wallpaper, dimensions variable. (bottom row) These Guys, Screen-printed wallpaper, dimensions variable. Neighborhood Watch, Screen-printed wallpaper, dimensions variable. Get Human, Screen-printed wallpaper, dimensions variable.

Yang studied graphic design and printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art, as well as the Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She attributes color, pop art and music to her continual inspirations, but during her college days in Baltimore, the artist, “grew very fond of the advertisements that were wheat pasted by the light rail stops” in the downtown area. Prevalent in elements of her artwork, the texture of the artist’s work reflects the imagery still fresh in her mind from the Baltimore influence. “Now, I’m trying to make that influence a little more obvious - bring it to the forefront and really play with it as a color and compositional element.” Live4This, the creative duo of Aaron Whisner and Darshan Phillips, present their process and theme centering around the idea of how time and weather effect art.

Inspiration for the new works relate around the ideas of vintage hand painted signage, Route 66 and words such as “decay“ and “sandy.” Phillips shared, “Processed will be an examination of what weather and time have on art. The art/graphic will then find new life through reuse. The process of deterioration and decay has an organic and beautiful result that can never be reproduced through a quick process.” Phillips noted that the actual method to achieve the desired finished artwork will be, “pretty apparent” to the viewers. Phillips also mentioned the partners are excited to produce works that are “one of our furthest explorations into sculpture and three dimensional media.”

ourselves within the overlap of fine art and commercial design.” They hope to challenge each other as individuals as well as clients because they want to surpass the status quo with passion, attitude and outlook within their field. The name Live4This reflects this philosophy. For more about the Processed exhibition, visit n Britt Greenwood is a freelance writer, founder of Tulsa Art Spot, and Arts Advocacy Captain for Oklahomans for the Arts

Whisner and Phillips describe their Live4This partnership as a “collaborative multidisciplinary design and art studio. As artists, art directors, advertisers, designers, photographers, and programmers, we find

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Stuart Asprey’s Beer Bash at the Moon Tower and Other Recent Work by Erin Schalk

Stuart Asprey, Norman, Butter Devil (Paula Deen Pie Tin), Slab built porcelain with colored slips, glaze fired to cone 6 (oxidation), 8”x8”x1”

For technological societies, popular culture is woven into more aspects of daily life than ever before. Websites allow streams of information and rumors to circulate, while social networking promotes the cultivation and consumption of fictitious personas. Ceramic artist Stuart Asprey has nurtured a long-standing interest with popular culture, especially American icons and imagery. He considers the American pop culture industry an underrated big business that exports its products and philosophies throughout the world. For many Americans, abundant resources and distractions enjoyed during the last century have brought about a new brand


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of challenges, namely overindulgence. In 2010, Asprey began his Success and Excess series, which examines downfalls such as alcoholism, drug abuse and gluttony of the rich and famous. He has utilized humorous yet astringent images of Winston Churchill and Benjamin Franklin along with their vices on flasks, Chris Farley and his carnal misdeeds on a prescription pill bottle, and even celebrity cook Paula Deen on a butterladen pie plate. “My work was called irreverent once. I am totally comfortable with that, especially when

the work is more person-centric. Making my art about a specific individual walks that fine line between being disrespectful or insulting and satire. I don’t try to be irreverent, my work just has a tendency to come off that way,” said Asprey. Asprey’s current body of ceramic work is an extension of Success and Excess, with specific attention to the illustrious characters, individuals, history and lore surrounding beer. Approximately six new, bottle-shaped porcelain vessels will be displayed in his upcoming exhibition aptly dubbed Beer Bash at the Moon Tower and Other Recent Work. The

title pays homage to the cult classic Dazed and Confused, a film that glimpses into small-town American high school traditions of hazing and initiation. Of course, such rites cannot be effective without indulgence in a few liquid wrecking balls. Asprey explains, “My love for beer, like many an American, was born between the ages of 18-23, which coincided with college. My undergraduate alma mater, Humbolt State University, is conveniently nestled between five microbreweries, which only helped with my upbringing. I remember the days of academia when many an instructor would preach about the crucial necessity of making art about what you know. I feel I’ve enjoyed enough beer to be a self-proclaimed expert on the subject.” At first glance, Asprey’s Tatonka Brown Ale bottle’s Russel-esque composition appears to be a tribute to Oklahoma’s artistic heritage. In actuality, this bottle references a quote from armchair intellectual Cliff Clavin, character of the popular ‘80s and ‘90s sitcom Cheers. Asprey treats his porcelain objects as three-dimensional canvases, perfect forms for covertly tucking hints of the piece’s content into all available nooks and crannies. In the case of Tatonka Brown Ale, a portrait of Cliff Clavin is hidden underneath the bottle’s base. In one episode, Clavin compares drinking beer and its effects on the brain to natural selection weeding out the slowest and weakest members of a buffalo herd. Just as natural selection strengthens a buffalo herd overall, Clavin reasons that alcohol consumption destroys an individual’s least efficient brain cells, therefore making the drinker smarter. Clavin concludes this grain of barstool wisdom with “and that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.” Asprey’s newfound practice of inoculating ale into ceramic art stems beyond his nostalgia of college parties or interest in popular culture. He is currently investigating the many functions of alcohol in society, with his customarily humorous content often melding with history and mythology. Asprey’s research on subjects such as Prohibition-era bootlegging, the London Beer Flood of 1814, and the fabled libations of Valhalla, is as meticulous as his attention paid to his vessels’

Stuart Asprey, Norman, Butter Devil (Paula Deen Pie Tin), (back) Slab built porcelain with colored slips, glaze fired to cone 6 (oxidation), 8”x8”x1”

complex compositions and slip-painted surface decoration. Valhalla Doppelbock is a quintessential example of how Asprey imbues layers of meaning into his artwork as a result of research. The abstract motifs and vibrant red and orange diamonds came from imagery he viewed on traditional Viking flags and at modern medieval fairs. Furthermore, Asprey was inspired by Viking beliefs about the afterlife: if a warrior dies during battle, upon entering Valhalla, there will be limitless quantities of beer flowing from a goat’s udders. Humor is Asprey’s primary motivation for this piece, as well as for this entire celebration of cold ones. He gives a recommendation for the best way to enjoy this incomparably flavored goat’s mead: serve warm.

information, visit ECU’s website at www. An extensive portfolio of Asprey’s ceramic art and drawings can be viewed at n Erin Schalk is a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma, and she is an artist and writer who currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. Visit her website at

Asprey’s solo exhibition Beer Bash at the Moon Tower and Other Recent Work will be featured at East Central University’s Shirley Pogue Art Gallery in Ada. The exhibition will be from January 14 to February 8. For more

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Art Now Features Homegrown Artists by Heide Brandes

Tom Wester, Oklahoma City, Shadow Puppet No. 7, Drawing mediums on paper, 24” x 44”

Last year, City Arts Center in Oklahoma City changed the way an iconic event was run. The center’s biggest annual fundraiser, Café City Arts grew up. It became a little more mature, a little pickier and a little more sophisticated, as we all do when we age a bit. Café City Arts was ready to shed the happy-go-lucky but raw vestiges of youth to become a more modern version of itself – Art Now at City Arts Center of Oklahoma City. “My main brief was to upgrade the organization and make it a national and international art center without forgetting our local artists,” said Executive Director Mary Ann Prior, who took the reins three and a half years ago. “Café City Arts had been going on for over 20 years as one of our fundraisers we have each year, and it’s the most fun! But, it had become a bit dated, and we needed to update the image.” Last year, Art Now debuted to the Oklahoma art scene as a curated exhibition, and because of the success of that first year, City Arts Center is presenting a curated Art Now show again this January, featuring some of


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Oklahoma’s most unique and prolific artists. City Arts Center presents Art Now on January 25, and this year’s event is curated by Louise Siddons, assistant professor and curator of collections at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and an art historian specializing in American art and the visual culture of modernity. This year’s event will also feature the sense of time and place as well as a collection of mixed media and material arts that Siddons said she hopes will thrill even the most discerning collectors. Time and Place Siddons received her Ph.D. in Art History from Stanford University in 2005 and joined the OSU faculty in 2009. Previously, she served as visiting assistant professor and adjunct curator at Michigan State University and the Kresge Art Museum for two years, as well as an assistant curator of works on paper at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for several years. For her, curating Art Now was a dream project, a project she could mold around a loose theme that tied all the artists together.

“The event used to be very free-form with no theme really tying it together,” Siddons said. “I was invited as curator, and I wanted a theme that would tie together the exhibits into art that spoke to each other.” After speaking to artists and with her own imagination, Siddons decided Art Now would feature artwork that speaks to a sense of place, a sense of time. With artists working in media such as fiber arts, sculpture, paint and more, she wanted a theme line of history, memory and a sense of location. “There’s a huge range of artists, and that’s why I like the theme – you have a huge range of art from abstract sculpture to higher representational painting to fiber arts to ceramics. It will be a very tactile show,” Siddons said. “But the theme will hold it all together with high levels of skill.” The artists all hale from Oklahoma and are encouraged to submit new work for the show. They venture from places like Skiatook, Weatherford, Oklahoma City and Claremore.

Louise Siddons, curator of Art Now 2013 at City Arts Center in Oklahoma City.

“I think it’s funny because when I started, I tried to find every artist in the state. When I got my short list, I failed because that short list was still 100 people long,” said Siddons of the 25 artists that will be featured at Art Now. “As I visited people, I realized I have an unconscious pull toward subtle color and black and white. I love the way black and white works by focusing your attention on what appears to be simple relationships, but are actually very complicated.” As to not focus on her preferences only, Siddons happily pursued color artists as well. “I also like vibrant color,” she said. “Art Now will show all of this.” Art Now “When we decided to change Café City Arts to Art Now, we gave the selection process to an independent curator,” said Prior. “That gives it the objectivity that it needs and puts the show in the hands of people who are very, very knowledgeable. She will select an exceptional show that is carefully balanced to be appealing and affordable as a fundraiser,

Michelle Junkin, Edmond, Oklahoma Heartland, Acrylic with collaged hand-cut magazine scraps, 24” x 24”

but with academic rigor as well.” With 25 artists showcased, City Arts Center hopes to match its previous year’s take of roughly $30,000 to $40,000 raised. “I think it’s important for the public to understand that we have a new look, that we’ve revamped and re-imagined the event for the second decade of the 21st century,” Prior said. “Last year looked amazing, and we’re excited to have a completely rebranded look. It’s a great fun evening.” Siddons said the curating process has reaffirmed her passion for Oklahoma art, and she hoped art collectors would start turning local to find their key pieces. “I’ve had a series of incredible conversations with artists, and it comes up that Oklahoma has an amazing number of artists and art, but

that collectors always go out of state to collect,” Siddons said. “People should come to this show. I hope people who leave to collect art look at what’s happening in Oklahoma. They would be amazed. We have breathtaking art being made.” For tickets or more information, visit n Heide Brandes is an Oklahoma City freelance writer with more than 15 years of award-winning experience as a writer, editor and public relations professional. She writes for a variety of regional and national magazines and enjoys travel, medieval recreation, caving, outdoor exploration and fried oysters. Heide is also a professional bellydancer and bellydance instructor in Oklahoma City and kind of a quirky chick.

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Contemporary Explorations by Karen Paul

United by a common desire to share their artistic vision, six artists show a wide variety of contemporary art at The Unexplored: Emerging Artists Show continuing through January 19, 2013 at MAINSITE in Norman. “This is a group of young artists from the Midwest region who are at various stages of their careers and are fresh contemporary voices to Norman and Central Oklahoma,” said Erinn Gavaghan, MAINSITE Executive Director and show curator. Three of these artists whose work will be featured in the show provided insight into their very different career paths and artistic processes. Tim Kowalczyk Tim Kowalczyk’s super-realism style of ceramics plays with a theme of natural versus man-made elements in everyday life. His enhanced ceramics help create scenes that appear to be real, leaving viewers to often mistake his carefully crafted ceramic-based materials for a scene of found objects. “The common thread of my work is that we overlook antiquated and everyday objects,” Kowalcyzk said. “We overlook them because they are so common and integrated into our lives.” Kowalcyzk’s background in ceramics led him on a journey of exploring the medium and its possibilities in a nontraditional way. “As a ceramics person, I began to learn about chemistry and the material qualities of the process,” he said. “At first I started creating cardboard with my ceramics. Then it became limiting.” Kowalcyzk talked about his frustrations with his mentors, who suggested that he start looking at other objects. The suggestion was one that forever changed his work. “After that discussion, my work became more about how one object relates to another. It became about the created perception of banal and mundane objects of life. By recreating them in ceramics, I’m giving them a sense of purpose and priority.” Kowalcyzk’s ceramic work at MAINSITE includes an artist’s studio complete with paintbrushes and paper, a shooting gallery, a large shipping box, and a new series of Polaroids that he is currently completing.

Christie Owen, Edmond, Nodo, Reclaimed copper, 25” x 25” Krystle Brewer, Stillwater, Untitled (Woman I), Ceramics, wood and hardware, 10.5” x 10.5” x 11.5”


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“I love playing with these objects. We overlook them on a daily basis and then when they are re-created, they become really precious.” Krystle Brewer Krystle Brewer’s three-dimensional work examines the boxes of our lives, the spaces that we construct and that define us as individuals. “Our entire lives are spent in boxes. We are born in a crib. We work in a cubicle. We drive in cars. We live in homes with four walls and when we die, we are placed in a casket. My work is about the physical, emotional, mental and cognitive concepts of our lives.” Brewer’s three-dimensional pieces show figures in different relationships with the boxes of their lives. Some boxes are left open, inviting viewers to simply view the figures. Other boxes are closed, forcing viewers to interact with the work and confront the boxes of their lives. “People aren’t always sure what to do with my art. It’s really interesting to stand back and watch. People obviously feel uncomfortable by what they see; then they open the boxes and are really uncomfortable.” Brewer’s work at MAINSITE represents an evolution of her theme. In this series, figures will be more emotionally available and reacting to the boxes of their lives. “My new boxes are pushing the art further. There’s an interaction with the figures and the boxes. The boxes will also be smaller and more intimate. In some cases, the figures are moving outside their boxes. Or, they are apathetic because they have been so mentally constrained by the box.” Brewer is excited to show her latest series at MAINSITE. “It is a huge compliment to be in the show. I feel really excited and honored.” Christie Owen Former graphic designer Christie Owen is reluctant to define her multi-media work for MAINSITE as having a hard theme or making a well-defined statement.

Tim Kowalczyk, Shooting Gallery, Ceramics

“Everything is going to be united by a common environment and emotion. It’s going to be light, airy and tranquil, creating an ethereal environment.” Owen’s work is built on the concept that it is innately human to create. “I love that I can use my hands to make something of somewhat permanence. All digital work is fleeting in a sense. Art, especially the three-dimensional work I do, will exist for a much longer time.” For Owen, it is the love of the creative process as she experiments with deliberate designs across different media that keeps her growing as an artist. “I’ve been painting and drawing my whole life. I enjoy pushing paint around. However, metal work and sculpture is a very different kind of work. It’s very physically intense. I have to be more intentional about what I am doing. It may or may not be as forgiving as painting.”

Owen’s contemporary art at MAINSITE is deliberately functional, encouraging viewers to interact with it in their daily lives. Pieces include jewelry, painting and sculpture. She hopes the transition between media will elicit some surprise from viewers as they recognize the same element of design and emotion integrated in each piece. “I wake up every day inspired by new ideas. MAINSITE is going to be a fun show for me.” Other featured artists include Zach Burns, Amy Coldren, and Cindy Coleman. For more information, visit n Karen Paul is a freelance writer based in Norman, OK. Paul specializes in arts-based articles. You can contact her at

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Paradise Lost by Brian Hearn

Versus, Peru, Digital Pigment Print, 75x50cm

Our species is probably screwed. Hurricane Sandy was yet another potent reminder of just how out of whack our environment is relative to the hubris of our civilization. The searing photographic essays at [Artspace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City further illustrate the critical nature of the problems facing us. On the surface, this unique traveling exhibition called E.CO refers to ecology or the relationships between living organisms and their environment. Beneath the surface, however, one discerns a diversity of collective approaches to creating these powerful images. Claudi Carreras, curator of E.CO, invited twenty far flung photographic collectives from Latin America and Europe to freely create work about the environment. It is interesting to consider the process of collective artistic production, a practice that seems underdeveloped in North America. Rooted primarily in documentary


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photography, these collectives consist of three to eight photographers with common concerns working intentionally on shared bodies of work. Carreras was interested in how collectives “show different perspectives, modes of representation and creative variants” in communicating the urgency of environmental degradation and its impact on human beings.

figure stands with his head in his hands. One senses that nature will win out in this pitched battle. El Cremi: The Other Nature, by Peru’s Versus Photo, is a haunting look at the patients of a psychiatric hospital at the edge of the rainforest. In this abstract mosaic of madness we see subjective images of mental illness unleashed into the elemental forces of nature.

Iquitos, an island city at the convergence of three rivers in the Peruvian Amazon, is the site for two different collective photo projects. Supay Fotos’ Border reveals at once the futility and fragility of human incursion on the wilderness. Several children play on the edges of a neatly cut soccer field carved out of the jungle as the adjacent river overflows its banks flooding the field and the goal. In another image a hulking concrete mass lays decaying in a swamp surrounded by encroaching vegetation. There, a tiny shirtless

Cia de Foto from São Paulo, Brazil is a group of seven photographers whose work emerges from creative consensus and an imaginative sense of place. In recent years São Paulo has been inundated with unprecedented torrential rains. Warming ocean temperatures are changing the weather patterns over the nearby Amazon rainforest paralyzing life in one of the largest cities in the world. Rain consists of several large desaturated streetscapes, populated by umbrella toting city dwellers. In each image, a lone figure is

subtly highlighted bringing their emotions to the surface. We sense their apprehension at quotidian life disrupted and the oppression of relentless gray skies. A related video shows a residential city block transformed into a river tributary accompanied by ominous thunder claps. In Urbanization the multi-national collective Documentography shows us a series of harrowing portraits across continents in which families are surviving in unplanned urban communities permeated by pollution. Against darkening skies two children play innocently in a Manila garbage dump. The seashore in the capital city of Sierra Leone is dominated by a panoramic kaleidoscope of garbage. Another image indexes individual pieces of garbage produced in one day by a family of four. Consisting of colorful, mostly plastic food packaging, the image is a stark reminder of the un-sustainability of our food systems. In our relentless march toward total urbanization we pay the highest human costs while threatening to spoil the living host that sustains us. The paradox of animating dead matter through taxidermy takes on surreal dimensions in Pets by Portugal’s Kameraphoto. The series of black and white domestic interiors features shabby stuffed animals: wildcat, partridge, and mongoose frozen in time amidst shoes, books, and a television. Many of the species depicted, now endangered, represent the loss of biodiversity and the literal domestication of the wild. Ever wonder where old computers go to die? Spain’s Pandora Foto shows us in Electronic Waste. Thousands of tons of computers containing poisonous compounds end up in places like Pakistan and Ghana where young people with no other economic opportunities process this material by hand, endangering their own health, the soil and the water. Shadowy figures shrouded in toxic black smoke render their disparate, desolate locations indistinguishable, a teenage wasteland. If E.CO sounds like a slap in the face, it is. But perhaps that’s just what our species needs, particularly in the (over) developed world. This unflinching exhibition asks us to encounter the Other that we conveniently ignore in our artificial paradise of consumption without consequences. E.CO provides undeniable visual proof that we humans have made a beautiful mess of things. There’s still time to fix it I hope. Our survival depends on it. E.CO continues through January 5 at [Artspace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City. Visit n Brian Hearn is the film curator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (top) Supay Foto, Peru, from Border series, Digital Pigment Print, 180x120cm (middle) Cia De Foto, Brazil, from Rain series, Digital Pigment Print, 180 x 120cm (bottom) Nomada, Costa Rica, Digital Pigment Print, 90x60cm

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RAW Digs Oklahoma’s Underground by Mary Kathryn Moeller

Guests view local artwork at the October RAW showcase in Oklahoma City.

Behind a black curtain in Bricktown’s Club One15 in Oklahoma City, the DJ mixes while the lights dance and the models pose. The artwork hangs on all sides, serenaded by the band as the belly dancers weave throughout the crowd and guests purchase accessories with their cocktails. While this may not sound like a typical week night in Oklahoma City, this is the particular vision of RAW: Natural Born Artists. Launched in Los Angeles in 2009 by struggling fashion designer Heidi Luerra, RAW’s mission is to spotlight “underground” artists in local communities and help give them a start or boost in their emerging artistic careers. Since its inception, RAW has launched in 65 cities nationwide as well as in Brisbane, Australia with continued plans to expand overseas. The RAW effort in each city is led by a local director who coordinates monthly showcases featuring artists in a multiplicity of genres. A single showcase might include visual and performing artists, photographers, musical groups, hair and makeup artists as well as fashion and accessory designers. These events are


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billed as one-night circuses of creativity and guests can expect a full-sensory experience centered on a unifying theme such as Solstice, Radiate, and most recently, Provocations. The aim is to provide “a snapshot of the creative culture in any given community,” according to a documentary produced by the organization. The showcase season runs from February to October and is capped by an indie awards show known as RAWards, to be held each January in downtown Los Angeles. Kristen Thompson helms the RAW movement in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City and explains that, while the themes are chosen by RAW’s California headquarters, she works hard to find artists that not only fit the theme but also complement each other. She might be looking at art in coffee shops, at a local arts festival or through the artists’ work submitted through RAW’s website to find the right mix of individuals and work for each monthly showcase. Thompson says she is looking for “anything creative under the sun. We just want good quality work that people are going to enjoy…work that will make people think and start a good conversation.”

The ultimate goal of RAW, Thompson says, is exposure for new artists, many of whom may have never exhibited their work before. In the documentary, RAWcross America, Jill Stafford, part of the Sacramento team, provides an example of a photographer she discovered on Flickr. “He had great pictures… [but] had never been brave enough to just put them out there, other than on Flickr.” After a great response at a RAW showcase, he is now working on a selfpublished book of his writing to accompany his photography. “Once he got over the hurdle of showing for the first time,” said Stafford, “he felt he could do anything.” In the October Oklahoma City showcase, many of the artists had shown their work in some format but had not had broad exposure to a wider audience. Tulsa-based mixed-media artist Kristal Wheeler has been making art all her life and has had success in showing work through the region but says she was searching for a way to connect to the greater art community. She has found that connection in RAW. “RAW is an amazing platform for new and seasoned artists. The Oklahoma Director, Kristen Thompson, keeps in touch with the

(left) RAW artist Kristal Wheeler stands in front of her display at the October Oklahoma City showcase entitled Provocations. (middle) Kristal Wheeler, Tulsa, Calypso, Acrylic, colored glass shards, and copper leaf on canvas, 24” x 30” (right) Kristal Wheeler, Tulsa, Rejoice, Acrylic on canvas, 22” x 28”

artists and is their biggest cheerleader. I have seen her hanging lighting and dragging in backdrops and then just before the show starts she puts on her dress and heels and ready to RAWK! The shows are a team event for the artists; every dimension that an artist brings to the show only makes it better.” Wheeler’s exposure and involvement in RAW has already begun to pay off. She was contacted by the OU Health Sciences offices of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery to create work for their new offices which opened in December. “I have only been a RAW artist since August and I was so amazed at the exposure that it got me in such a short amount of time. It was almost surreal when I first sat down with Kaylie [Thresher; the Administrative Assistant for the surgery center]. I still am blown away by it. She also said that many people think of cosmetic surgery as face lifts and boob jobs, but that actually 70% of their patients were breast cancer survivors and were undergoing reconstruction.” Wheeler worked to incorporate pink into her color palette for the breast cancer awareness ribbon in the two large works for the lobby

area and the several smaller pieces for the exam rooms. She says she is honored to be chosen to provide the artwork for the surgery center, “They do much more than make people beautiful, they give them their lives back.”

RAW has just begun to make an impact in Oklahoma by giving independent artists an outlet and voice in the thriving art communities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The artists are eager, earnest, and absolutely thrilled to be a part of the RAW movement. Their enthusiasm is infectious and within the festive atmosphere of creativity that is a RAW event, it is exciting to witness the gathering of momentum around this organization. Perhaps the most thrilling part of the establishment of RAW in Oklahoma is the sense of empowerment developing amongst

the artists. They are connecting to one another and beginning to branch out into unique collaborations. Thompson says she is starting to see more RAW artists coordinate their efforts to create new works of art and expand their creative possibilities. This organic vibe will have intriguing consequences for the art communities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the coming years and Thompson can barely contain her excitement. “That is it for me. That is what I love to see,” she said with a smile. More information about Kristal Wheeler and the RAW movement can be found at n Mary Kathryn Moeller is currently pursuing her Master’s in art history at Oklahoma State University where she works as a Graduate Research Assistant for the OSU Museum of Art. She is available via e-mail at

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Alva’s Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios by Krystle Brewer

(left to right) Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios Executive Director Kay Decker in the gallery. Reaching Yellow Corn, a watercolor by Jena Kodesh, is part of the Art: Food for the Soul exhibition in January. Students of Graceful Arts’ Summer Art Camps experiment with paint.

Although Alva, Oklahoma might be best known as the home of Northwest Oklahoma State University, the art scene is striving to be a memorable aspect to its visitors. With the city working hard to promote the arts through their mural initiative and with the addition of Graceful Arts Center, Alva is becoming a more colorful and creative place to visit and live. Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios, situated on Barnes Street in the downtown square of the Alva Arts District, is a new arts facility that just celebrated its first anniversary. Their building has 4,400 square feet of exhibition space and art studios to view and create art. Their mission is to support local artists and to provide an arts education to citizens in Woods County. For such a young establishment, it is flourishing with activity. They offer a wide range of art classes for children and adults as well as provide studio space for working artists through residencies, hold poetry readings, host traveling exhibitions with a lecture series, and organize a First Friday Art Walk that includes local businesses. In their studio space, Graceful Arts offer fine arts and crafts classes for both adult and children artists. They range from drawing, painting, and sculpting to quilting, scrapbooking, and Native American beading. The classes are typically six weeks in length and are offered at an affordable price by local artists. For children with parents who cannot afford the classes, there is a scholarship and benefactor program, increasing the accessibility of the classes. Artists are encouraged to submit class proposals by contacting the center as they are always looking to expand their educational breadth. The First Friday Art Walks always correspond with the opening of the new exhibitions. Many


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of the businesses, including Act I Community Theatre, The Sandwich Shoppe, The Etc Shoppe, Daisy Village, and Murrow’s Frame Art, stay open late for art walkers to shop, eat, and check out local visual and musical artists. At Graceful Arts Center, visitors can tour the gallery space and sign up for art classes while listening to a local musician. The art walks draw together a sizable crowd from the community and its surrounding neighbors. With the diverse businesses and the monthly rotation of the exhibitions and events, there is something for all interests and it is always a new experience. “When we started, I had no idea what to expect, I just had a feeling,” said Executive Director, Kay Decker. “It’s working in Muskogee, Ardmore, Durant, and Enid. I thought, it has got to work here, and it is.” The community has fully embraced the new arts center and has shown its support through attendance and enrollment. Although their mission includes audiences of all ages, it seems to have had the largest impact on the children. It is near the schools and the students will come by after classes to look at the art or do homework. The January exhibition, Art: Food for the Soul, features contemporary artists who incorporate food into their artwork. The art shown is primarily the work of Alva artist and professor Jena Kodesh, but also includes several others. To be inclusive of the local businesses, this exhibition also features cookware displays. This collaboration with businesses works to build community and shows objects as art that may not typically be viewed in such a way. When appropriate, Graceful Arts works with the residents and has even been known to feature a Harley Davidson motorcycle in their gallery.

Although Graceful Arts has already accomplished a tremendous amount in its first year of existence, they are already looking for ways to expand. Their current goal is to establish an outreach program with the county schools that do not have an art curriculum. They hope to host an after-school program, bus kids to the facility during the school day, or bring art instructors to the classrooms to fulfill a vital creative need for these kids. “I’m convinced that there is a whole population of folks in our part of the country whose social needs have not been met by standard Oklahoma based recreational opportunities because you don’t have the arts functioning in every small town. We have a lot of talent in Oklahoma and we need to cultivate that,” said Decker. The Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios is a vital instrument in building the arts and culture in its city. They create wonderful creative experiences for its visitors and make great art accessible to those living in and traveling to Alva. The center employs artists and gives studio space to ensure that artists can live in Alva and thrive. Their ability to be inclusive and to create relationships outside of the typical art scene will ensure their future success. The Graceful Arts Center is located at 523 Barnes Street in Alva, Oklahoma and can be reached at (580) 327-ARTS. More information about their programming can be found at their website: n Krystle Brewer is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in art history at Oklahoma State University and is a Research Assistant with the OSU Museum of Art. She can be reached at





I’m Still Here: Art and Alzheimer’s by Cathy Deuschle

The Art Focus program at the Philbrook museum in Tulsa offers art activities to individuals with early stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Laughing Man, an artwork by an Art Focus participant.

Alzheimer’s disease, which can be neither prevented nor cured, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Since lifespans have lengthened and the baby boomer generation is entering old age, the number of people with it will continue to rise significantly. Clearly, ways to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease are needed and in demand. The visual arts provide one such way. While a progressive loss of memory and spatial orientation that diminishes verbal and organizational skills characterizes this disease, some functions can be preserved throughout much of its course. For example, events and places from the distant past may be recalled, and the ability to play musical instruments, participate in athletic games, and do crafts may remain. Since the creative process need not rely on short term learning and memory, the visual arts have the potential to give individuals with dementia access to the expression and communication of thoughts and emotions denied them through conversation. This was realized in 1986 when Selly Jenny, an artist whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease, explored art making as a way to help dementia


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patients reveal aspects of themselves. Finding it fertile ground, she began a program called Memories in the Making. Due to its success, her program and the philosophy behind it have been implemented internationally. Another watershed program began at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2006 with a gallery discussion program specifically geared to those with early stage dementia and their caregivers. In 2008 the museum partnered with New York University to thoroughly evaluate the program’s implementation in museums across the country. The results of this research showed participant benefits including positive changes to mood both right after the programs and in subsequent days. Benefits to the host institutions and staff included ideological shifts in the way Alzheimer’s disease was thought about and insight into ways to better serve older adults. In Oklahoma, there are numerous opportunities for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers to express themselves through art. In Tulsa, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts popular programs at two museums, Art Focus at Philbrook and Art Explorations at Gilcrease. Both of these programs are geared

to individuals with early stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Participants enjoy a guided talk of selected work which serves as a jump off point for their own art making. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) sponsors a similar program called Making Memories at the OKCMOA. OKCMOA and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Oklahoma/Arkansas chapter also offer activities led by a teaching artist at memory care centers in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. Jordan J. N. Tang is uniquely qualified to speak to the merit of these local programs. He is a visual artist, a member or the OKCMOA board, and a medical researcher working in drug development for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, he is the first and only Oklahoman to receive the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest research prize. According to Tang, “The AD outreach program of OKCMOA, in my view, is strongly based on its mission to enrich the life of people through the visual arts. Thus, bringing art to AD people is well justified because art may be one of the very few things they can still do and in some way enjoy.” Though there is variety in how the programs are implemented, the shared philosophy

involves encouragement and help rather than teaching or criticism. No artistic training is necessary for the participants and because of the nature of the disease, there is no focus on learning or therapeutic healing; it is instead completely process oriented. The goal, in fact, is the creative process and the reward is the expression of individual identity. This philosophy affirms the productive lives the participants led before Alzheimer’s symptoms interfered. Instead of addressing the constant reminders of failure and loss that dementia brings, it seeks tangible evidence of the thoughts and emotions that remain. The resultant art provides family members and professional caregivers a window into the psyche of the affected person. So what is the art like? It cannot fairly be compared to children’s art for it comes from someone with the deeply rooted convictions and emotions gained through long experience. Neither can it be compared to art produced by the mentally ill for it harkens back to their lives before illness struck and most often expresses closely held loves such as family, nature, work, or religion. It is seldom angry or tumultuous; it is usually joyous rather than distraught because even though the artists may be saddened by their illness, they prefer to recall and portray better times. Another goal of these programs is to promote sociability between the artists. This is important because mental stimulation and social interaction are thought to protect the brain yet individuals with Alzheimer’s are apt to retreat into themselves. The artists enjoy working in the company of others and a remembrance by one group member can trigger remembrances by others. Since much of the art produced narrates the distant past, conversation and laughter, or camaraderie at least, has the chance to naturally arise There are universal traits in the work produced by Alzheimer’s artists that mirror what is happening in the brain. For example, at some point in the progress of the disease, the artwork is made up solely of broken or dotted lines, similar to Pointillism. The artists are unable, for some reason, to make a longer line. The artists cope with the loss of depth perception by separating rather

than overlapping shapes and shapes become increasingly simpler and lacking in sharp angles. As the disease progresses color choices change until color eventually loses conceptual meaning altogether. These identifiable characteristics can be so strong that it can appear to the viewer that every piece was created by the same individual. Analysis of the formal qualities of this artwork has given researchers further insight into the type of cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s and into other neurological aspects of art creation. Medical researchers have well documented the progression of Alzheimer’s in the work of four well known artists: Willem de Kooning, William Utermohlen, Carolus Horn and Danae Chambers. It is fascinating to see the changes. In fact, many viewers prefer the work created during the disease to that from the fully functioning artist as the unconventional color, loose organization, emphatic and primitive qualities or tremulous lines can seem to intensify the emotional message. The mental confusion that produces, for example, human faces on animals, lends a magical, otherworldly quality to the art. But, in the end, it is deeply sad to see expression diminish to indecipherable scribbles. The need for communication and selfexpression is universal and that largely explains why Alzheimer’s disease is so feared. Though the effects of art making may last only as long as the creative exercise, they are profound for they have the power to momentarily give back what is systematically being taken away. The creative process has the potential to give dignity to those struggling mightily to maintain it and a brief respite from suffering. n

Cathy Deuschle is a Tulsa based artist.

A Face, an artwork by a participant of the Art Focus program at the Philbrook Museum of Art. Art Focus participants enjoy a guided discussion of artworks in the Philbrook collection. Clouds, an artwork by a participant of the Art Focus program at the Philbrook Museum of Art.

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Ask a Creativity Coach: Got Talent? Motivation Matters More by Romney Nesbitt

Dear Romney, Have you heard about the “10,000 hour rule?” Does this mean natural talent is a myth? —Not a clock watcher Dear Watcher, The 10,000 hour rule is found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. Gladwell believes the key to success, in any field, is practicing a specific task for about 10,000 hours. Gladwell doesn’t discount talent, but he believes it takes concentrated effort over time to turn good into great. Talent is Overrated, a book by Geoff Colvin, supports the 10,000 hour rule and adds a practical application. Colvin said it’s not just hours that matter - “deliberate practice” is what makes a difference. Deliberate practice means working on a problem until mastery is achieved. Using Colvin’s approach, let’s compare two emerging portrait painters. Both artists can achieve a likeness but also admit to having trouble painting hands. Artist #1 paints portraits and struggles with the hands in each portrait. Artist #2 chooses to admit her problem and decides to spend time every day sketching hands. Months later, artist #2 has mastered hands - and it shows. The difference between the two artists? Motivation and deliberate practice. Motivation is the topic of an article in the November issue of Scientific American Mind Magazine. Author Daisy Yuhas said, “When it comes to cultivating genius, talent matters, but motivation may matter more.” She says it takes motivation and stamina to keep practicing your craft long enough to gain the highest level of expertise. She offers a warning about talent: “Those who credit innate talents rather than hard work give up more easily when facing a novel challenge because they assume it exceeds their ability. Believing that effort fosters excellence can inspire you to keep learning.” Yuhas offers three key elements that boost motivation: autonomy, value and competence. Autonomy: When you feel in charge you’re more likely to keep working. Artist #2 identified her problem. She put in extra drawing time to improve her skills. Value: Know why obtaining this skill matters to you. Artist #2 realized competence in all aspects of portraiture would increase the value of her work in the marketplace. Competence: Expertise nets competence and more commitment. Increased competence encouraged Artist #2 to seek out more commissions. Mastery happens when talent is matched with deliberate practice over time. Identify the skill that needs work, develop a plan, and put in your time. The results will be worth your efforts. n Romney Nesbitt is a Creativity Coach and author of Secrets from a Creativity Coach (available on She welcomes your comments and questions at Book her to speak to your group through OVAC’s ARTiculate Speakers Bureau, www.


business of art



Congratulations to Kirsten Olds, Theresa Bembnister, and Emily Newman who received the first Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellowship awards. They distinguished themselves with rigorous writing and diligent participation in the program. We hope these $1,500 awards help them produce new writing or exhibition projects. We are proud of all the Fellows who completed the Fellowship and continue their many, varied professional projects. Momentum Tulsa opened with music, fashion and visual artwork by more than 60 young artists at Living Arts of Tulsa in October. We appreciate the co-chairs Tommy Ball and May Yang for their leadership, which helped the event garner much attention. Guest curator Raechell Smith worked with emerging curator Laura Reese to guide the exhibition. Thank you to the presenting sponsors The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Soundpony

and Urban Tulsa Weekly. Each semester, OVAC is blessed with numerous interns who volunteer their time and talent in service of the Oklahoma arts community. Last fall we retained one of our summer interns, Cayla Lewis, and welcomed three new faces – Heather Eck, Cierra Linander and Victoria Saccomagno. A photography senior at the University of Oklahoma, Heather Eck’s enthusiasm, diligence and organization were put to good use. Heather worked on numerous tasks including event preparation and follow-up for the 12x12 Art Fundraiser as well as Virtual Gallery updates. Cierra Linander graduated in December from the University of Oklahoma with a double major in Art History and Spanish. Cierra wrote for Art Focus Oklahoma magazine and the OVAC blog, and enthusiastically served as a representative at the State of Creativity Forum in November. Victoria Saccomagno earned a Bachelor of Art in Art History from

Oklahoma State University. In addition to working full time for the Schwerdt Design Group in OKC, Victoria assisted in nearly all aspects of OVAC operations including database maintenance, mailing assembly and delivery, and continues to serve on the Momentum OKC planning committee. We bid farewell and congratulations to Cayla Lewis who now splits her time at the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Plaza District where she was hired as the Communications Coordinator. Thanks again to all our interns. Their daily contributions and assistance are invaluable and always very much appreciated! Recent OVAC artist project grants totaled $4,850 and included the following artists. Christie Hackler, Edmond, has become quite active in her artistic practice. She received a Creative Projects Grants for her Black Kettle Grasslands artwork in the Art of Sound exhibition at Science Museum Oklahoma and a Professional Basics Grant to have a professional photographer capture her first continued page 28

A sketch for Christie Hackler’s Black Kettle Grasslands sculpture. Hackler received a Creative Projects Grant to complete this work, which was featured in the Art of Sound exhibition at Science Museum Oklahoma.

Momentum Tulsa curators Raechell Smith and Laura Reese.

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major commission. Michelle Junkin, Edmond, will undertake her first solo exhibition of new work at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery with the help of a Creative Projects Grant. Christine Brown, Stonewall, received a Professional Basics Grant to prepare for her exhibition From Limestone to Cedars at the Chickasaw Welcome Center in Davis, OK. Timothy Hearne, Moore, and Paul Bagley, Oklahoma City, received Professional Basics Grants to help develop new websites. Jacqueline Zanoni de los Santos, Edmond, participated in the Oklahoma Arts Institute’s fall watercolor workshop with an Education Assistance Grant. The next OVAC artist grant deadlines are January 15 and April 15, 2013. n

Lost I, a drawing by Timothy Hearne who received a Professional Basics Grant to develop a new website.

Thank you to our new and renewing members from September and October 2012! Deah Abbaon Alan and Susan Atkinson Amanda Baez Phyllis Baker Elaine Bitting Kristin Blazy Gina Boerner Louisa Brewer Christine Brown Lacy Brown Gustafson Kristofer Burtin Myers Campbell Eliseo Casiano Maria Chaverri Veronica Chodur Morgan Churchwell Diane U. Coady Zumani Cole Sheridan Conrad Audrey Schmitz and Ken Crowder Jason Cytacki and Haley Prestifilippo

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ovac news

Hillarey Dees Dorothy Dinsmoor Lisa Downs Mike Downs Tony Dyke and Susan Morrison-Dyke Christiane E. Faris Beverly K. Fentress Marlys Gallagher Amanda Gathright JoAnn and Helen Giddens Eyakem Gulilat Burt Harbison Sarah Harless Shelly Henry Heather Clark Hilliard John Hill and David Holland Cybele Hsu Kaylee Huerta Stephanie Jackson Trula Jackson Barbara Jacques Brandon Johnson

Danelle Johnson Kalee Jones W. Jody Karr Barbara Keel Pamela Kirby Brian Landreth Erin Latham Trent Lawson Bobby Lee P. Keith Lenington Leslie Lienau Katherine Liontas-Warren Michael Litzau Melissa Sue Lopez Jamie and Kimberly Lowe Christine Luton Joe Machado Kristina Makowicz Kelsea Mallette Tyson Manning Cynthia Marcoux Glenda Maxey Hugh Meade

Jan Meng Carla Miller Gregory Motto Debbie Musick Christie Owen Travis Parsons Ronna Pernell Andrew Phelan Tyler Prahl Redlands Community College, LRC Donna Robillard Gail Rogers Deborah Ross Mary Ruggles Roger Runge Timothy Ryan Diane and Richard Salamon School of Art and Art History Oklahoma University Barbara S. Scott Asia Scudder Byron Shen

Robert Shinn and Pamela Kingfisher Suzanne Silvester, Melton Art Reference Library Alfred Smith Sandy and Bob Sober Paul Sweeney Anita Tackett Andrew and Mary Tevington Terri Wagner Kelley Walker Tarra Walker Sharon Webster Nancy Werneke Ted West Billy Westcott Jennifer Leigh Whitfield Jessica Wilson James and Denise Wedel, Cobblestone Galleries

Gallery Listings & Exhibition Schedule



Stuart Asprey January 14 - February 8 Interscholastic Exhibition February 11 -15 Narciso Argüelles February 18 - March 15 The Pogue Gallery Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center 900 Centennial Plaza (580) 559-5353

Miquel Barceló’s Areneros y muleros January 1 – March 31 99th Annual School of Art & Art History Student Exhibition January 18 – February 10 Into the Void February 9 – July 28 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 555 Elm Ave. (405) 325-4938


The Unexplored: Emerging Artists Show Through January 19 Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery 122 East Main (405) 360-1162

Food for the Soul Exhibit and Sale with Jena Kodesh January Fabrics of the Heartland Exhibit and Sale February Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios 523 Barnes St. (580) 327-ARTS

Ardmore Marsha Mahan January 17 - March 2 The Goddard Center 401 First Avenue SW (580) 226-0909

Bartlesville Christo and Jeanne Claude: The Tom Golden Collection January 18 - May 5 Price Tower Arts Center 510 Dewey Ave. (918) 336-4949

Edmond Thomas Stotts January Award of Excellence Winners of Youth Impression Juried Art Show February Fine Arts Institute of Edmond 27 E Edwards St (405) 340-4481

Oklahoma City E.CO Through January 5 [ArtSpace] at Untitled 1 NE 3rd St. (405) 815-9995 Art Now 2013 January 15 - February 16 City Arts Center 3000 General Pershing Blvd. (405) 951-0000 Fusion of Work Through January 27 Istvan Gallery at Urban Art 1218 N. Western Ave. (405) 831-2874 National Geographic: Greatest Photographs of the American West Through January 6 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd (405) 478-2250 Gayle L. Curry (Governor’s Gallery) Through February 17

Dukno Yoon, Seoul, Korea, Segmented Wings 2, Sterling silver, 7” x 4” x 4”, on view in Wings: Kinetic Sculpture and Jewelry by Dukno Yoon at the Gardiner Gallery in Stillwater from February 4 through March 1, 2013.

Pamela Husky (East Gallery) Through February 10 Regina Murphy (East Gallery) February 18 – April 14 Sarah Harless (North Gallery) Through February 3 Grant McClintock (North Gallery) February 11 - April 7 Oklahoma State Capitol Galleries 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd (405) 521-2931 Photorealism Revisited January 24 - April 21 Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch Drive (405) 236-3100

Ponca City Photographs: David Nelson Through January 27 Reception January 6, 2-4 pm National High School Student Art Exhibit

February 2 - March 3 Reception February 2, 2-4 pm Ponca City Art Center 819 East Central (580) 765-9746

Stillwater Illustrator 54 January 7 - February 1 Reception January 17, 5-7 pm Wings: Kinetic Sculpture and Jewelry by Dukno Yoon February 4 - March 1 Reception February 7, 5-7 pm Gardiner Gallery Oklahoma State University 108 Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts (405) 744-4143

Tulsa National Geographic: Greatest Photographs of the American West Through February 3 Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey Through March 24 Gilcrease Museum 1400 Gilcrease Road (918) 596-2700 Processed: Silkscreen prints by Schmickle, Yang & Live4This January 4 – 24 Transient Spaces February 1 – 22 New Genre Festival XX – Weekend 1 February 22 – 23 Living Artspace 307 E. Brady (918) 585-1234

gallery guide


Third and Cincinnati (918) 596-2368 (Tulsa continued) Models & Muses Through February 3 The Philbrook Museum of Art 2727 South Rockford Road (918) 749-7941

Elizabeth Baddeley, New York City, Swimming Girls, Mixed media, 14.5” x 18.5”, on view in Illustrator 54 at the Gardiner Gallery in Stillwater from January 7 through February 1, 2013

Beth Downing and RC Morrison: Light Captured; Light Cast January 5 - 26 Daniel Gulik and Brian Hampton: The Moment of Risk February 1 - 13 Tulsa Artists Coalition Gallery 9 East Brady (918) 592-0041 Janice Wright January 4 - 27 Faculty Art Show February 1 - 27 Tulsa Performing Arts Center Gallery

Become a member of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition! Join today to begin enjoying the benefits of membership, including a subscription to Art Focus Oklahoma. PATRON - $250

-Listing of self or business on signage at events -Invitation for two people to private reception with visiting curators -$210 of this membership is tax deductible. -All of below

FELLOW - $125

-Acknowledgement in the Resource Guide and Art Focus Oklahoma -Copy of each OVAC exhibition catalog -$85 of this membership is tax deductible. -All of below

FAMILY - $60

-Same benefits as Individual level for two people in household


-Subscription to Art Focus Oklahoma -Monthly e-newsletter of visual art events statewide (sample) -Receive all OVAC mailings -Listing in Annual Resource Guide and Member Directory -Copy of Annual Resource Guide and Member Directory -Access to “Members Only” area on OVAC website -Invitation to Annual Meeting Plus, artists receive: -Inclusion in online Virtual Gallery -Monthly e-newsletter of opportunities for artists (sample) -Artist entry fees waived for OVAC sponsored exhibitions -Up to 50% discount on Artist Survival Kit workshops -Associate Membership in Fractured Atlas, with access to services such as insurance, online courses and other special offers.


-Valid student ID required. Same benefits as Individual level.



¨ Fellow

¨ Family

¨ Individual

¨ Student

Name Street Address City, State, Zip Email Website


Credit card #

Exp. Date

Are you an artist? Y N Medium?_____________________________________ Would you like to be included in the Membership Directory? Y N Would you like us to share your information for other arts-related events?




Detach and mail form along with payment to: OVAC, 730 W. Wilshire Blvd, Suite 104, Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Or join online at


ArtOFocus k l a h o m a Annual Subscriptions to Art Focus Oklahoma are free with OVAC membership. U pcoming E vents Jan 15:

OVAC Grants for Artists Deadline

Jan 28:

Momentum OKC Artist Entry Deadline

Feb 16:

Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma Closing Reception & Catalog Release Party

Feb 23:

ASK - Legal Guide for Visual Artists, OKC

730 W. Wilshire Blvd, Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition supports Oklahoma’s visual arts and artists and their power to enrich communities.

Non Profit Org. US POSTAGE PAID Oklahoma City, OK Permit No. 113

Visit to learn more.

Mar 1-2: Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still, OKC

January Ford Beckman Opening Reception: FRIDAY, JANUARY 4 6 - 10 P.M.

February Rosemary Burke Opening Reception: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 6 - 10 P.M.

Gallery Hours: Mon - Sat 10 am - 6 pm Sun 1 pm - 5 pm

2810 North Walker Phone: 405.528.6336




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