ArtOFocus k l a h o m a
Okl a ho m a V i s u al A r ts C o al i t i on
Vo l u m e 2 5 N o . 4
Photofest on paseo p. 14
We’re now deep into the laze of summer and I can already feel the urge to sit back with a cold drink and catch up on some overdue reading. I’ve assembled a selection of books that I have my eye on (or would like to revisit), as well as some blogs I’d suggest adding to your favorites list. For fun, there are also a couple of things you might want to watch or listen to.
Drawing by Emma Ann Robertson.
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Books Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton An insider account of the inner workings of the contemporary art world. Chuck Close: Life by Christopher Finch A new biography of the artist, chronicling his evolution as a painter. The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson An investigation of the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world. Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art by Olav Velthuis An economic analysis of how prices are set in the contemporary art market and the tension between art and commerce. Why Is That Art? Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art by Terry Barrett A book addressing common questions viewers raise about contemporary art. Art & Today by Eleanor Heartney A comprehensive survey of contemporary art over the past three decades, organized by theme and featuring over 400 artworks. Drawing is Thinking by Milton Glaser Based on the idea that all art has its origin in the impulse to create, this book is mostly images of drawings that delineate this idea. I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion by Alyson B. Stanfield Practical approaches to help you sell more art and build a career that lasts. Also check out her blog at www.ArtBizBlog.com. The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions by Lynn Basa Written by an artist, for artists, explaining how to start and build a career in public art. Blogs Art:21 Blog: blog.art21.org Modern Art Notes by Tyler Green: blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes Art in the Public Interest: www.apionline.org Listen/Watch: Work of Art: The Next Great Artist on Bravo TV (Oklahoman and former Momentum artist Jaime Lynn is a contestant.) Tate Podcasts: channel.tate.org.uk/podcasts This list should be enough to keep us all reading until the end-of-summer cool down. Please share with me what you’re reading or your thoughts on any of the books included here. Email me at email@example.com. Happy reading.
Art OFocus k l a h o m a Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition 730 W. Wilshire Blvd., Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 ph: 405.879.2400 • e: firstname.lastname@example.org visit our website at: www.ovac-ok.org Executive Director: Julia Kirt email@example.com Editor: Kelsey Karper firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director: Anne Richardson email@example.com Intern: Erin Kozakiewicz 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: The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promotes public interest and understanding of the arts. 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. Art Focus Committee: Janice McCormick, Bixby; Don Emrick, Claremore; Susan Grossman, Norman; MJ Alexander, Stephen Kovash, Sue Moss Sullivan, and Christian Trimble, Oklahoma City. OVAC Board of Directors June 2009 - June 2010: R.C. Morrison, Bixby; Richard Pearson, Rick Vermillion, Edmond; Jennifer Barron, Susan Beaty, Stephen Kovash (President), Paul Mays, Suzanne Mitchell (Vice President), Carl Shortt, Suzanne Thomas, Christian Trimble, Elia Woods (Secretary), Eric Wright, Oklahoma City; Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs; Anita Fields, Stillwater; F. Bradley Jessop, Sulphur; Cathy Deuschle, Elizabeth Downing, Jean Ann Fausser (Treasurer) 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. © 2010, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved.
Kelsey Karper firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Cover Dennis Church, Choctaw, The Deep End, Digital Photography. See page 14.
View this issue online at www.ArtFocusOklahoma.org.
p ro f i l e s Joey Frisillo: More Than a Painter
After a recent workshop at Stillwater’s Multi Arts Center, a writer interviews the oil and pastel painter.
7 Identity Formation
Kolbe Roper’s recent exhibition at Tulsa’s Living Arts gallery made frank commentary on the human experience.
10 Doug Elder: An Uneasy Serenity
A series of abstract sculptures by this Norman artist find their history in Iran, Egypt, Greece and the Golden Mean.
p re v i e w s 12 Correspondence Courses
Lori Oden and Kate Rivers collect distant voices in Write Me A Photograph and Totem, their upcoming exhibitions at Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City.
14 PhotoFest on Paseo
The month of September is a celebration of photography in the Oklahoma City arts district.
16 Ron Clark: Idabel, Norman, NYC, Dallas, Ada
An exhibition of this Idabel native’s work features vibrant abstract paintings in the gallery at East Central University, Ada.
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18 Art 365: Liz Rodda
Norman artist Liz Rodda is preparing her project for OVAC’s Art 365 exhibition, exploring the intersection between what is provable and what is suspect.
22 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Receives Three Prestigious Collections
Recent acquisitions at the Norman museum have expanded their collection to include many new and significant works of Native American culture.
at a glance
25 Art, design or fashion?
A recent exhibition at the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville showcased the work of iconic designer Edith Head.
business of 27 What’s in a Title?
Tips to help with the dreaded task of titling your artwork.
OVAC news 28 Round Up | New & Renewing Members 30
gallery guide 22
(p. 7) Kolbe Roper, Oklahoma City, Diving into the sun can make it burn when you pee, Oil, Screen print, Ink, Wax, on Woven book paper, 43’x43” (13”x13” each); (p.10) Douglas Shaw Elder, Norman, Laconic Series: Augustness III, Wood; (p. 14) JJ Holley, Stillwater, Reach, Photography; (p.22) Maynard Dixon, Land of White Mesas, 1943, Oil on Canvas, 30”x40”, the Eugene B. Adkins Collection.
Joey Frisillo: More Than a Painter by Kristin Gentry
Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs, Queen Anne’s Lace, Pastel, 8”x8”
Joey Frisillo is an oil and pastel painter who draws much of her inspiration from the Oklahoma landscape that she can see from her own patio. “The longer I live here the more I appreciate its subtle beauty,” said Frisillo, who chooses to work both from life and from photographs.
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(left) Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs, October Prairie, Pastel, 18”x24” (right) Joey Frisillo teaching a workshop at Stillwater Multi Arts Center.
As a watercolorist and printmaker, I have never really worked in pastels or oils so I was thrilled to learn about Frisillo’s demonstration and workshop through the Stillwater Art Guild. I observed her pastel and oil workshop that was held at the Stillwater Multi Arts Center. I watched her work while she talked about her personal art process. She spoke about how making a good painting is like making a good composition when taking a photograph. She then limits her color palette so that she can spend less time hunting for colors, and more time working. She starts from a photograph, manipulates it in Adobe Photoshop, and then goes on to do a watercolor under painting. All this happens before she even begins to oil or pastel paint. Like many artists in Oklahoma, Frisillo is more than just an active artist. She is also a board member for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. Being involved in many areas of the art world makes Joey a great person for any artist to learn about and look up to. She was so personable, I found myself asking her many questions: KG: Since you use watercolor as an under painting, do you ever do full watercolor paintings?
JF: I don’t paint full watercolor paintings. I use watercolor in mixed media. Besides as an under painting for pastel, I enjoy using it with oil pastels which resist the watercolor. I do some small works of this type using oil pastel under then over the watercolor. KG: Why do you paint landscapes? JF: When I was young, my family used to go out for Sunday drives. We used to drive to Ohio from Indiana for vacations. Perhaps it was those drives that first made me aware of the landscape. I always loved to draw. So I guess it’s like Reese’s peanut butter cups. They eventually came together! I am always amazed by nature and its beauty. So, when I returned to painting, after many years away from the practice of it, I chose the landscape as my focus. I have photographed it, now I want to paint it. I study constantly and try to figure out how to represent what attracts me. How can I take a sunset or a flower and translate the contrasts and colors to the canvas in a way that is true to the essence of what I am seeing and feeling? It sounds very straight forward but there is so much to keep learning about painting and handling the media to make it do what you want it to do. When I was in college, non-representational art was the thing of
the times. Other than life drawing classes, representational painting was not addressed. When I chose realism as a style for my landscapes, it became a ten year, self guided journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it. KG: What do you do as a board member for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition? JF: Each board member chooses which OVAC programs they wish to be involved with. This is my third year on the Grants Committee. Before I was asked to be on the board, I received two education grants. Grants are one great way OVAC helps individual artists advance their careers. Our job has become tougher since more artists have started applying. A benefit of being on this committee, for me, has been to raise my awareness and understanding of artists creating work which is very different than my own. It has made me appreciate the enormous amount of talent we have around the state. This is true locally as well. I have helped plan and sponsor the Tulsa Art Studio Tour which, each year, highlights nine or ten artists and where they create their art. And every year there are a few artists featured that are hidden treasures that I have never met continued on page 6
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Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs, March in the Tall Grass, Pastel, 9”x12”
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before. I remember this was the first OVAC events I attended eight years ago and still one of my favorites. Another area of involvement for me is assisting with the workshop series called Artist Survival Kit (ASK) whenever I can. KG: Why are you a part of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition? JF: I am a part of OVAC because its primary goal is to showcase and provide support for Oklahoma artists. OVAC has a very permanent small staff that is very dynamic and works hard to keep multiple balls in the air. But OVAC is also the board of directors and numerous volunteers from many cities who are artists themselves with the same passion to help others be recognized and advance their careers. I enjoy giving back to the organization that has helped me in many facets of my own career. Not only that, it has allow me to meet and network with many artists I would never have come in contact with otherwise.
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To see more works by Joey Frisillo, go to www.JoeyFrisillo.com or simply go the OVAC Virtual Gallery of artists at www.ovacgallery.com. n Kristin Gentry is a mixed media artist. She received her BFA from Oklahoma State University. Gentry is also the Children’s Programmer at the Stillwater Multi Arts Center.
Roper refers to the work in this show as “pieces that have conversations with other pieces”—work with intentional, though not always obvious, links.
Kolbe Roper, Oklahoma City, My friend after 10 years. Fiberglass, Fabric, Glue, Acrylic, Human hair
I dentity F ormation by Jennifer Barron
Cast cheesecloth, breakfast food, lit neon tubes, cow hearts - in his April show at Living Arts gallery in Tulsa, the media chosen by artist Kolbe Roper are as compelling as they are disparate and challenging. Roper’s artwork integrates such seemingly far-flung materials, employing the unexpected to comment frankly on the equally unpredictable human experience.
Roper describes his work as process-based, and the group of works titled: Come and Go, Where You’re At, and Time to Shine illustrates this quality clearly. A series of plaster castings of a cow’s heart seems to unfold before the viewer, captured in progressive destruction. What viewers know about the heart as an organ - its fragility, its blood - is contrasted with the heavy mass of still white plaster, and this dissonance invites the audience to linger and consider. It is also highly conceptual work. Roper states that he often plans pieces by attempting to take a large, difficult idea and break it into simpler terms. Themes that recur include thoughts on identity, connection, and isolation, and these themes help to unify the individual works into a strongly cohesive show. An upturned kitchen table (Breakfast is a Lonely Chore) offers a meditation on loss and isolation, and gives a thoughtful counterpoint to a neon dialogue (No Yes No) hanging nearby. continued on page 8
Roper refers to the work in this show as “pieces that have conversations with other pieces”—work with intentional, though not always obvious, links. Indeed, moving from work to work, viewers may struggle to find the connections between each. From a splayed nude human form in cast cheesecloth and actual hair, to paper marked with fingerprints in blood, Roper’s work nudges viewers to confront ideas of physicality and mortality, and to find comfort in the uncomfortable, universal parts of human life. This ability to stir contemplation in viewers is one of the most obvious links that connect these pieces, and one of the strongest aspects of Roper’s work as a whole.
death in his work, but chooses titles— such as Diving Into the Sun Can Make it Burn When You Pee—that may cause viewers to re-evaluate the work that they have just seen.
Despite the unflinching subject matter, another link that comes across quickly is humor. The word ‘FLOOR’ lit in neon and placed on the floor, for example, offers viewers an accessible way into the show as a whole. Roper does not dwell in emotion when exploring love, loss and
Jennifer Barron is an Oklahoma City based artist and arts administrator who believes firmly in the power of art to enhance lives, build communities, and push us forward from our comfort zones. No cows were harmed in the writing of this article.
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Roper presents uncomfortable and candid questions, but offers no easy answers. He seeks honest confrontation with the viewer, and viewers who take time with this work may find it. Ultimately, however, the explorations on display begin as Roper’s own. “If it doesn’t make me feel something,” he asks, “how can it affect anyone else?” n
(This page) Installation view of Kolbe Roper’s exhibition at Living Arts in Tulsa. Foreground: Kolbe Roper, Oklahoma City, Breakfast is a lonely chore, Table, Hydrostone, Paper towel, Drinking glass, Ceramic plate, Oil, Acrylic, Books, Dimensions Variable Background, Left to Right: No Yes No or It’s like gravel in your mouth, Neon, 22”x16” For when i need to be found:1-3, blood and graphite, each sheet is 20”x22” Oh, silly girl, Screen print, Oil, Wax, Charcoal, Fiberglass on Woven book paper, 60”x60” (Opposite page) Your words hurt my eyes and my glasses hurt my ears, Screen print, Oil, Wax, Charcoal, and Fiberglass on Woven book paper, 40”x40”
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Douglas Shaw Elder, Norman, Laconic Series: Ibis V, Wood
DOUGLAS SHAW ELDER: AN UNEASY SERENITY by Elizabeth T. Burr
This past spring, the Firehouse Art Center in Norman held an exhibition by two Norman artists. One was the talented jeweler, Elyse Bogart and the other participant was Douglas Shaw Elder, the current director of the Firehouse. It is his sculpture that is the focus of this article. Elder has been the executive director of the Firehouse since 2007. His business talents have been of benefit to both the Firehouse and to the Norman art community. Many of the studio facilities and teaching programs have been extended under his supervision. With a fine arts background, he has used an excellent eye in his choice of artists and exhibitions. One of the commitments that Elder is most proud to have forged during his tenure as director are links with the Norman school system. He has developed activities, projects,
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and a wide range of art classes available at the Firehouse for these children. What was perhaps unknown to those who have benefited from Elder’s administrative skills, was that he arrived in Norman with extensive education and practice as a working sculptor. His training in sculpture and drawing were from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, as well as Boston University, where he received his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. He continued his artistic and teaching activities in Boston, before accepting a position in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Oklahoma (OU). This status at OU eventually overlapped with his appointment to Executive Director of the Firehouse in 2007. In the recent Firehouse exhibition, Elder showed fourteen pieces of sculpture created
from layers and layers of polychrome plywood: they were elegant and sophisticated. Although all the pieces were abstract, their shapes, colors, textures and placements evoked a kind of ancient human memory. They have an organic feel to them. What these sculptures have is history: a visual/aesthetic pedigree that stretches from ancient Iranian (Amlash) and Egyptian sources up through ancient Greek sculpture. The unusual forms of Elder’s pieces have a classical calm to them in shape, placement and in their framing. Elder noted that there is a reason for this: the artist’s reliance on the classical rule of the Golden Mean. This rule was developed and practiced in ancient Greece; it was a “canon of proportion” used in painting, sculpture and architecture. This proportional system uses a ratio of
Douglas Shaw Elder, Norman, Laconic Series: Augustness I, Wood
design based on the geometrical goal of .618 to 1 – basically a 5 to 8 approximation. The reason for the continuation of this rule down through the centuries is that, “The Golden Mean produces a harmonic effect called eurythmy found in nature as well as in a wide variety of works of art and design. Artists …have found that dimensions determined by this formula are aesthetically appealing.” (source: ArtLex.com) This rubric was used in every piece of sculpture in the Firehouse exhibit. It has allowed Elder to display the rich variety of possibilities that can be achieved even within nonobjective forms. Elder also applied the Golden Mean ratio to the wooden bases that support his sculptures, accentuating the harmony of their impact. His decision to support his works on these bases is a further indication of his response to Grecian sculpture – especially the ancient relief sculptures carved on the Parthenon. Like the setting of marble sculptures within the walls of a temple, Elder has responded to such placements by framing his reliefs against a wooden wall and shelf. As in the Parthenon, these also echo a certain awareness of theatre: his objects rest on their bases as if they were a kind of stage. Though classical in their application of the Golden Mean, this does not provide any clues as to the particular forms chosen by Elder. Such a question opens up the lineage of artistic influences absorbed by the artist. In an artist’s statement written for the Firehouse exhibition, the artist tells us, “These works are inspired by the ancient art of Amlash and Egypt.” (Amlash was an ancient civilization that was located in northern Iran, or what we would call Persia.) The figurines that have survived display a gently rounded style, with a clear use of a ceramic technique. Elder continued his remarks on Amlash art, especially regarding their “totemic” qualities, “Ancient Art has unusual mystical strength whether they are naturalistically modeled sculptures or anthropomorphic figures.” He has noted, “These works evoke a response in the formal, stylistic and the symbolic qualities that produce great art and motivate my creative process.”
Elder’s sculpture continues his lineage through his admiration for many highly respected contemporary sculptors and painters. From talking with the artist, it is apparent that Elder has drawn both visual and intellectual lessons from each of these – and other – sources that have attracted his eye. From the painters, such as Euan Uglow, he found a comparable use of the Golden Mean to that of his own. Many of Uglow’s paintings are of solitary figures that are posed perfectly in space. A hint of the stage accompanies these figures – a quality found in Elder’s formal approach. Being familiar with the sculpture of Manuel Neri’s use of relief sculpture seems to have encouraged Elder’s adoption of this technique. Like Uglow’s paintings, Neri’s compositions often are built around an isolated figure, usually a woman. Elder’s inculcation of Amlash and other ancient sculpture has given his objects a certain edge that evades the delicate nudes of Neri. One can see immediately what Elder found in the sculpture of his former colleague in Boston, Isabel McIlvain. Her focus on isolated women, their position in relationship to their base and any other support is evocative of Elder’s aesthetic. She, too, has a hint of a theatrical placement of her sculptures; this adds to the power of her work. n Elizabeth T. Burr has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Cambridge. She currently lives in Norman and writes on artists, shows and art techniques on a freelance basis.
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Lori Oden, Oklahoma City, Twisted Words, Platinum/Palladium Print from Wet Collodion Negative, 5”x7”
Correspondence Courses Lori Oden and Kate Rivers collect distant voices in Write Me A Photograph and Totem. by Sarah Atlee
When was the last time you sat down and read a letter, or wrote one by hand? Most of us think little of dashing off dozens of emails and texts in the course of our day. In a two-person show curated by Stephen Kovash at Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City, artists Lori Oden and Kate Rivers address the traditional art of committing thoughts to paper. Edmond-based photographer Oden creates and photographs still lifes suggested by letters she gets in the mail. Rivers, who lives in Ada and teaches at East Central University, constructs elaborate monotypes in the form of birds’ nests, built strand by strand. Kovash notes that both of these artists’ techniques “have a strong basis in history.” In pairing them for exhibition, Kovash offers us two perspectives on storytelling. Oden, who has always been visually inspired by prose and poetry, wanted to create a series of narrative photographs based on 25 letters she solicited from friends and family. When she sees a letter in her mailbox, she eagerly anticipates the experience of savoring those written words. During this process, Oden wrote, “The mailbox made me cry today. The mailbox made me laugh today. The mailbox made me remember today.” Rivers also enjoys handwritten letters, not just for the pleasure of reading them, but the physical artifacts, pieces of paper that “started one place and went to another.” Her complex images, perhaps abstract
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personal histories, are accumulated from strips of paper, cut, collaged, and even sewn into the shapes of nests. Naturally, letters find their way into Rivers’ work, along with notes, maps, and other ephemera. Both Oden and Rivers recognize the appeal of objects with history. Oden creates her still lifes from items she finds in antique shops. For her prints and collages, Rivers uses only found papers, nothing purchased. Even the maps she uses are “freebies” collected on trips. Looking at the artifacts used in their work, the history is evident, but the details are unknowable. From these old things, worn with time and use, the two artists build images ripe with new meaning. Oden first became interested in photography through studying its history. She uses the collodion wet-plate technique developed in the mid-19th century and used by photographers from Charles Dodgson to Sally Mann.* This now-obsolete process is ideally suited to capturing still objects in natural light. We don’t usually think of photographs as being made by hand, however Oden incorporates the accidental textures and warm tones of the collodion process to create prints that have a distinctly hand-made appearance. Rivers is constantly on the move. She describes her work as “all about moving from place to place.” However, she also says, “I feel more at home in Oklahoma than I have anywhere.” Her birds’ nest images
(top) Kate Rivers, Ada, Feed Me, Monotype on Arches 88, 22”x30” (middle) Kate Rivers, Ada, Feed Me 2, Monotype on Arches 88, 22”x30” (bottom) Lori Oden, Oklahoma City, It Was Hard on Me Too, Platinum/Palladium Print from Wet Collodion Negative, 5”x7”
demonstrate the contradictory ideas of building a home and tearing it down. Rivers describes the typical interpretation of the nest metaphor as “something that you leave. But it’s about trying to establish a sense of place, an identity.” Something you may not know about Rivers is that she is also a marathon runner. She likens the process of creating a body of work to training for a marathon. She establishes a schedule, breaking the “huge, impossible goal” down into manageable steps. “I know that if I break it down, I can do it.” Rivers’ process of collecting, cutting, composing, collaging and printing looks as though it would take forever, but all that labor makes her work visually rich and rewarding. Lori Oden’s Write Me A Photograph and Kate Rivers’ Totem will be on display at Istvan Gallery in August 2010. For more information about the exhibit, visit www.istvangallery.com. n * View a step-by-step description of the collodion process at www.collodion.org/q&a.html.
Sarah Atlee is a painter living in Oklahoma City. Her current project, Occupied, examines the working lives of Oklahomans. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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(top) Rachel Papo, Brooklyn, NY, Patrolling Camp, Tsaelim, Israel, 2005, Photography (bottom) Rachel Papo, Brooklyn, NY, Final Cut, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007, Photography
PhotoFest on Paseo by Romy Owens
I love September, the weather starts to break, the art season kicks into high gear after the laze of summer, and this September, like the two Septembers before, the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City will feature photography in most of the galleries that occupy the district. The combined effort of this photographyviewing opportunity is called PhotoFest and photographers of all experience levels, styles, techniques and methods will be on display. At AKA Gallery, Gallerista Ashley Griffith will be exhibiting a series of her pinhole photography. (Quick reminder : Ashley was one of the 2008 OVAC Art 365 artists. She created the Recycled Series which used CD cases to display groups of photographs in a grid.) “My work with the Recycled Series is very loud and modern,” explained Ashley. She embraces pinhole photography because it is a quiet and simple technique. And now for a wee bit of Pinhole 101. A pinhole camera is a lightproof box that has no lens. There is a single very small pinhole on one side of the camera that allows light in, capturing and preserving an image on a negative.
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While producing pinhole photography indeed involves a relatively simple technique, it takes considerable patience and skill to create quality images. And pinhole photography oftentimes involves long steady exposures. It’s the exact opposite of the new standard, digital photography, and is basically considered experimental photography. For her pinhole series, Ashley is using 4x5 film, and she will be capturing urban landscapes. When I asked her why urban landscapes, Ashley told me, “I love the small hints of Oklahoma’s past that still exist within our modern society.” Down the road, at JRB Art at the Elms, Julie Maguire, curator for the Brett Weston Archive is curating the exhibits for the galleries this September. JRB has exhibited amazing photographers through the
Candace Coker, Shawnee, Simple Serendipitous Moments, Black and White Photography
years, including legends such as Jerry Uelsmann, Maggie Taylor, and of course, Brett Weston, as well as local legends such as Joseph Mills and MJ Alexander.
“Introducing a juried photography exhibit was an idea that kept surfacing, so we moved on it. As it turned out, it was very popular,” Oden said.
Julie has selected Rachel Papo, an Israeli photographer living in Brooklyn, as the artist featured in the main gallery with images from two seemingly disparate series: Desperately Perfect and Serial No. 3817131. Perfect chronicles the lives of young dancers from the Russian Ballet while 3817131 depicts life in the Israeli Army.
Both years, the juried exhibit has seen more than 70 artists submit more than 200 images. Any Oklahoman over age 18 can enter the PhotoFest. It was my pleasure to serve as the juror of last year’s exhibit. John and Mary Seward were the jurors in 2008. (At the time of press, the 2010 juror had not been selected.)
The contrast between the two bodies of work is striking. “In many ways, the ballet dancers have a more grueling sentence than the people in the Israeli Army,” said Julie about the comparison. Julie has also selected Lori Nix and Marc Yankus for exhibition at JRB in the side galleries.
First Friday, which features the opening receptions for all of the Paseo district’s galleries, will be September 3 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Leading the entire photographic experience in the Paseo is the Paseo Art Association, who will be exhibiting the third annual PhotoFest on Paseo, a juried photography exhibit. I asked Lori Oden, Executive Director of the Paseo Art Association, how PhotoFest evolved. “As with many of the events that develop from the Paseo, PhotoFest evolved through the creative minds of committee members.”
For more information about PhotoFest, including details on how to submit to the juried exhibit, visit www.thepaseo.com. For more information about AKA Gallery, visit www.akagallery.net. For more information about JRB Art at the Elms, visit jrbartgallery.com. n
Romy Owens spends most of her time taking photos and sewing them together. She can be reached via mental telepathy or at romyowens.com
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Ron Clark, Dallas, TX, Silver and Blue, Oil on Canvas, 36”x36”
Idabel, Norman, NYC, Dallas, Ada by Stephen Kovash
“Conventional wisdom” would lead one to believe that southeast Oklahoma has always been a cultural wasteland. Windy, dusty and austere, yes, but as is usually the case, conventional wisdom is incorrect. 16
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Ron Clark at work in his studio.
The “Ada Trio,” consisting of D.J. Lafon, Robert Barker and Bob Sieg were based at East Central University (ECU) in Ada. They made a big splash in the 1960s art world and continue to be influential today. R. Grant Thorp was a significant artist and ECU art professor who passed well before his time in 1994. The region continues to be home for important artists including Kate Rivers and Brad Jessop and ECU continues to produce some of the most promising art students in the state. Artist Ron Clark is featured in a show at the Shirley Pogue Art Gallery in ECU’s Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, through July 28, 2010. To get the context of Ron Clark showing at ECU, one has to travel back further in time to 1902 and deeper into the southeast. Specifically, Idabel, 15 miles north of Texas. Artist Harold Stevenson’s family moved to Oklahoma Territory to what later became Idabel. Stevenson was born in 1929 and opened his first art gallery in the town square when he was 10 years old. Stevenson attended the University of Oklahoma and moved to New York City in 1949, where he became one of the darlings of the “burgeoning” art scene with his “New Realism” figurative painting style. His contemporaries and drinking buddies included iconic figures like Andy Warhol, Igor Stravinsky, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Cole Porter, Elizabeth Arden, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Lord Snowdon (husband of Princess Margaret), Max Ernst, Truman Capote, Jean and Dominique de Menil, and Christian Dior. While Stevenson’s artistic talent took him all over the world, he never actually “left Idabel” and still maintains a residence there. Ron Clark was born in Idabel in 1948. One summer morning as a child he wandered into a vacant bakery near his grandmother’s house and came upon a painter on a ladder working on a mural-sized canvas. Fascinated with what he was witnessing, he sat on a bench and watched the artist work for several hours. That artist was Harold Stevenson. This meeting with Stevenson ignited Clark’s love for painting and led to a lifelong friendship between the two artists. Stevenson’s influence can be seen in Clark’s early figurative work. Stevenson’s painting wasn’t the only artistic influence in Clark’s life. His father was an amateur jazz pianist and other relatives include a professional opera singer and an assortment of professional musicians. Clark studied piano and was an accomplished guitar player in Texas and Oklahoma. At the University of Oklahoma, he studied architecture, journalism and graphic design. After working several years in Houston as an Architectural Illustrator and in Dallas as a Graphic Designer, he moved to New York in ’87 and spent two years in the prestigious BFA program at Parsons School of Design, with concentration in Visual Communication and Modern Art History (early 20th Century European painting and sculpture). While in New York
City, Clark worked in several Manhattan design studios, served as a gallery assistant for Stevenson on high-profile Park Avenue exhibitions, and helped support himself by doing portraits from live sittings. After Parsons, he returned to Dallas and worked several years in both advertising agencies and design. In 1995, Clark began a series of large paintings that moved away from the figurative and led to his current success as an abstract artist. Selections from his current series Impending Presence will be featured in the show at ECU. According to Dr. Brad Jessop, director of the ECU art department, ECU serves as a cultural center for the entire southeast region of Oklahoma. Jessop tries to feature artists from the region who have “made it.” Reviewers of Clark’s work seem universal in their praise but it is hard to describe his vibrant abstract work. A comparison to Mark Rothko is not inappropriate but probably inadequate. As was said previously, his figurative work seems strongly influenced by Stevenson whose work in turn could be compared to those of Diego Rivera and other WPA artists. Clark’s studies in architecture and design are evident in his current work. His layers of paint are applied with an agonizing attention to detail and the work seems either completely linear or completely amorphous. The colors are vibrant and pulsing, reminiscent of a stormy Oklahoma sky, bruised with the portent of promise or disaster. The less linear work is made up of tactile layers, ending with thin veneer over molten color. The exhibit will run through July 28th. Gallery hours are 9-5, Monday through Friday. For more information about East Central University, visit www.ecok.edu. More information about Ron Clark can be found at www.ronclarkstudio.com. n Stephen Kovash owns the Istvan Gallery at Urban Art, is an OVAC Board Member and has a day job with the Environmental Protection Agency. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
p re v i e w
ART 365: Liz Rodda by Holly Wall The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s exhibition Art 365 will open at [ArtSpace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City in March 2011. Five artists each receive a $12,000 honorarium and one year of interaction with curator Shannon Fitzgerald. Visit www.Art365.org for more information.
It wasn’t the opportunity to work on a year-long art project that attracted Norman’s Liz Rodda to the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Art 365; rather, it was the opportunity to work with Oklahoma City-based curator Shannon Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is an independent curator and writer who recently curated the exhibitions Brandon Anschultz: Transmission/Destination for the Center of Creative Arts and Our Commodity: Juan William Chávez, Sarah Frost, Leslie Mutchler for the Regional Arts Commission, both in St. Louis. “She’s curated a number of exhibits with significant artists,” Rodda said. “I find she’s really approachable, even though she’s so accomplished. “She has no agenda to change my work or any artist’s work,” Rodda continued. “She offers insightful observations and listens to what I have to say, to what I see in the work.” In addition to working with Fitzgerald, Art 365 has given Rodda the opportunity to create a large, intensive work based on themes she regularly explores as a multimedia artist. Rodda, an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma, refers to her project as Tomorrows, although the title may change before it goes on display next March, and it involves four elements. The first of those four is a three-channel video titled Triple Possibility, which Liz Rodda, Norman, Untitled (model for exhibition), single-channel video
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ART 365: Liz Rodda
Liz Rodda, Norman, 2010/2011 (model for exhibition), color inkjet prints. Photo by Sherwin Tibayan.
depicts three separate fortune-tellers in Beijing, China, reading Rodda’s future. She hired a translator to interpret their predictions, so the videos, while in Chinese, feature English subtitles. “Last summer, I traveled to China for the first time,” she said. “I was giving a lecture at Redman University in Beijing, and I wanted to use the opportunity to create a new work. “I’ve always been interested in the belief of fate or predestination that is strong in Chinese culture. Some believe they can make the most of their fate by going to a fortune teller.”
Rodda visited three different fortunetellers who, taking into account her birth date, facial features and description of a recent dream, gave her three very different, contradictory predictions of her future. One teller told her she would encounter some sort of accident. “Their responses confirm how we can only speculate on what’s ahead,” Rodda said. “So my project references the limits of human understanding and how we think about the unknown.” The other interesting thing about the predictions is how much translation they had to travel through.
“First of all, it’s a dream, which is an interpretation of sorts,” Rodda said. “Then it was translated into Chinese and then back into English. So it’s gone through all these layers of translation.” To accompany the videos, Rodda created an inked flow chart that details the many possible courses of action she could take in response to the fortune-tellers’ predictions. “One prediction is that I may encounter some sort of accident,” she said. “I’m especially interested in that one because I have no control over it. Also, I was in a serious accident as a teenager, so, in a way, it’s like my continued on page 20
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Liz Rodda, Norman, Untitled (model for exhibition), ink on paper, dimensions variable
continued from page 19 life in reverse. The flowchart shows all of the possible outcomes and what could lead to them.
between anticipation and hindsight; you’re always in this suspended place. You don’t know if something has ended or is about to begin.”
“It’s a reflection of how we think. If someone says something like that to us, it’s easy to worry about what the future may entail. One thought could lead to another to another until it becomes irrational. It’s about how we think about things we don’t know.”
Before earning her master’s degree in art, Rodda received an undergraduate degree in English literature, and this project reflects that interest as much as it does her passion for art. She frequently mentions Shakespearean ideas of fate being at work in people’s lives and star-crossed lovers.
She created the flowchart in ink, rather than pencil, to show permanence. “Sometimes something bad will occur and you don’t have the ability to go back and see all your options,” she said. “Like longing to know our future, I am interested in the belief systems that lead people to the stars to comprehend their lives,” Rodda said. 2010/2011, another element of the project, is a set of photographs taken a split second before and after midnight on New Year’s that exhibit the night sky. “I chose the constellation Taurus because it’s my astrological sign,” Rodda said. “The piece represents the idea of star-crossed lovers, and the word disaster comes from the Latin word “unfavorable star,” so I see the connection there as well.” The final element of the project is a looping video in which a red stage curtain moves faintly, alluding to activity backstage that is never revealed. “It’s about infinite waiting in which the viewer anticipates nothing more than anticipation,” Rodda said. “It’s taking you to this place
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Each element of Rodda’s project is connected by the same theme: the intersection between what is considered provable and what is suspect. “I spent a lot of time thinking about how we as people reflect on things we can’t know,” the artist said. “I think, in Western culture, we’re really interested in the idea of success and planning for the future. Sometimes we get too caught up in what the future may entail, and we don’t deal with what we have to deal with in the immediate sense. “In a more overall perspective, the things I’m interested in are belief systems and the motivations of people,” Rodda said. “I’m really interested in the intangible nature of striving for things, whether or not you even know if they exist. “Many of my projects are meant to act as signals, directing viewers to distant places. I do not attempt to clarify mysteries, but rather offer ways of thinking about what is indefinite or unknowable.” n Holly Wall has been covering the arts in Tulsa for three years. She writes weekly arts columns for Urban Tulsa Weekly and monthly for the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Intermission magazine.
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA C O L L E G E
F I N E
A R T S
A N D
D E S I G N
^ Andre Dunoyer de Ségonzac “La Gare de Campagne”
Thomas Moran “Venice at Sunset”
Melton Art Gallery, UCO Art & Design Building, open 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri. View more than 500 years of European and American art, including the collection’s centerpiece, Thomas Moran’s “Venice at Sunset.” This collection is on permanent display at the gallery. Reservations needed for groups of 25 or more. For more information: (405) 974-2432 • www.uco.edu/fineartsanddesign
Georges Rouault “Revendication (Zone Rouge)”
André Lhote “Paysage”
continued on page 22
Mary Morez (Diné), Father Sky and Mother Earth, 1970, Oil on Canvas, 30”x40”, the Eugene B. Adkins Collection.
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Receives Three Prestigious Collections by Tamara Liegerot Elder
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, located on the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus in Norman, has recently received another outstanding collection of Native American art from the private collection of James T. Bialac of Phoenix, Arizona. The multi-million dollar collection represents more than 3,000 works of art from American Indian tribes across the nation. The collection includes 2,600 paintings and works on paper, 1,000 kachinas and 100 pieces of jewelry representing artists such as Allan Houser, Pablita Velarde, Fred Kabotie, Fritz Scholder, Jerome Tiger, Helen Hardin, Richard “Dick” West and Pop Chalee. Bialac purchased his first painting in 1964 by Navajo artist Robert Chee, launching a nearly 50 year career of collecting works of art. He has also served as a juror for many Native American art shows, including the Santa Fe Indian Market.
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In response to the donation, University President David Boren stated, “The University is deeply grateful to Jim Bialac for this important and generous gift. This collection will expose our students and people all across the country to some of the most important works of Native American culture. In addition, the collection will be an important source for art history students, including graduate students in OU’s new Ph.D. program in Native American art.” In 2007, the University made an announcement they would be receiving a large portion of the prestigious Eugene B. Adkins Collection of over 3,300 items, including 2,200 two-dimensional works, 370 pieces of pottery and 1,600 pieces of jewelry. Adkins, originally from Tulsa, was an avid collector of Native American art
having a particular interest in jewelry and silver-work. The University will partner with Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum in the exhibition of these pieces. To provide display room, the university, through a $3 million grant from the Stuart Family Foundation, is building a new 8,300 square foot museum gallery to house the collection. The gallery will be built as a new level on top of the existing museum and a grand staircase is to be constructed leading visitors to the second floor Adkins Gallery. After leaving The Adkins Gallery, visitors can walk up to the mezzanine level to view a new 4,500 square foot photography gallery. In appreciation for the gift from the Stuart Family Foundation, the new addition will be named The Stuart Wing. In addition to this project, OU will also renovate existing galleries within the building originally built in 1971. This includes the Nancy Johnston Records Gallery where national and international traveling exhibitions are housed. There will also be renovations to the back work areas of the museum where displays are built and the art is stored, including areas used for restoration and repair. Another collection recently donated to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is the collection of Rennard Strickland. Strickland, an internationally renowned law professor and legal historian is currently Senior Scholar in Residence in the OU College of Law and is the Philip H. Knight distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at the University Of Oregon School Of Law. A native of Muskogee, OK, Strickland purchased his first piece of art as a young boy from Acee Blue Eagle, a well known Creek-Pawnee artist from Oklahoma, leading to a lifelong passion for collecting American Indian art. These donations come on the heels of other prestigious collection donations including the Fleischaker Collection of American Indian and Southwest Art in 1996 and the Weitzenhoffer Collection in 2000. The year 2000 has been described as a “watershed year” in the development of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum’s collections. The Weitzenhoffer collection of French Impressionist art consists of thirty-three works of art by Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec, Vincent Van Gough, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and others. In 2005, the museum opened a new gallery area, adding more than 34,000 square feet to feature the Weitzenhoffer Collection, an auditorium, an orientation room, classroom, museum store and new entrance.
(top) Walter Ufer, Going East, 1917, Oil on Canvas, 50”x50”, the Eugene B. Adkins Collection. (bottom) Joseph Erb (Cherokee), Gourd with Warriors Addressing Modern Technology, 2006, Gourd with Pigment, 9 1/4”x12 1/2”x6 7/8”, gift of Rennard Strickland.
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum started as the Museum of Art in 1936 with the acquisition of a large Asian art collection at which time Oscar Jacobson, OU art professor, was named Museum Director. The first galleries were located in what is now called Jacobson Hall. With the persistence of Jacobson to pursue a more permanent continued on page 24
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Helen Hardin (Santa Clara), Winter Awakening of the O-Khoo-Wah, 1972, Acrylic on Board, 14 5/8”x29 5/8”, the James T. Bialac Native Art Collection.
continued from page 23
facility, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones of Oklahoma City donated a fine arts building to the University in honor of their son, Fred Jones, Jr., who was killed in an airplane crash while attending OU. The building was then called the Fred Jones Jr. Memorial Art Center, which housed the Museum of Art and the College of Fine Arts. In 1992, the Memorial Art Center and Museum of Art were merged and renamed the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Mary Jo Watson, Director of the OU School of Art and Art History and Curator of Native American Art at Fred Jones Jr. Museum commented, “We are very enthusiastic about these recent donations. The Adkins, Strickland and Bialac collections have put us in a very high national ranking for Native American Art and make us a specialized place for the study of American Indian and Western Art. These collections will certainly enhance our recent dualtrack Ph.D. program in American Indian Art and Art of the American West.” In regards to the most recent donation Dr. Watson stated, “Mr. Bialac specifically wanted his collection to be used for study and to be shown on a regular basis in the museum, and we are very grateful for his generosity.” With the completion of the Stuart Wing in 2011, pieces from the collections will be exhibited and rotated every year. There will also be a permanent exhibition space at the museum designated specifically for pieces from the Bialac collection. A full-scale exhibition accompanied by a catalog of selected works is scheduled for 2012. The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is located in the OU Arts District on the corner of Elm Avenue and Boyd Street, 555 Elm Avenue, on the OU campus in Norman. The museum is closed on Mondays and admission is free on Tuesdays. For more information call 405-325-4938 or go to www.ou.edu/fjjma. n Tamara Liegerot Elder is a Native American art historian and former curator of American Indian art. She consults with different tribal entities and museums, and is author of a recent book entitled LumheeHolot-Tee: The Art & Life of Acee Blue Eagle. She is director of the non-profit North American Indian Research Institute.
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(top) Edith Head, designer, costume design for Jessie Royce Landis, To Catch a Thief, 1955. Watercolor, paint, and pencil on paper. Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin. (middle) Edith Head designs reproduced by students of Apparel Design at Oklahoma State University. Photograph by David Mabry. (bottom) Edith Head, courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
At a Glance: Art, design or fashion? by Sheri Ishmael-Waldrop In addition to 46 one-of-a-kind sketches, memorabilia and a replica or her studio, City Arts Center in Oklahoma City will be showcasing ten reproduction gowns from the Lights! Camera! Fashion!: The Film Costumes of Edith Head exhibition, which was recently on display at the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville. City Arts Center will be hosting The Film Costumes of Edith Head through August 21.
The objects are on loan from the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (Madison, WI) and Price Tower Arts Center, said Stone.
The exhibit highlights the creations and artistic visions of Head and her assistants. As the fashion designer to Paramount, Universal Pictures and the Oscars from the 1920s through the 1960s, she dressed Hollywood starlets such as Debbie Reynolds, Grace Kelly, Joanne Woodward, Carol Burnett, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley McLaine, and Betty Davis.
The gowns were produced by Oklahoma State University Apparel Design students under the guidance of Dr. Adriana Petrova, a professor at Oklahoma State University, said Scott W. Perkins, Price Tower Arts Center Curator of Collections and Exhibitions.
With more than 1,000 film credits, and 16 on-screen roles, her designs were featured in Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Nutty Professor, To Catch a Thief and Whose Minding the Store, to name a few. Head’s own subdued style strikes a sharp contrast with her elaborate conceptions and use of the “little black dress.” City Arts Center Director of Exhibits Clint Stone said the Head exhibit compliments the Sketch to Screen: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for the summer season. The artistic attraction of both exhibits provides a glimpse of the artistry in the designer’s creative process.
The use of pencil, pen, watercolor and paint on paper accents the long slender lines of the figures in the sketches, some resembling the film stars, are light and free flowing. With hand-written notes and cloth swatches the viewer sees the creativity and evolution of a design.
“The students were given a dress form, $50 for materials, and a copy of one of the sketches to use as a project for the entire fall 2009 semester,” said Perkins. “An all-black color scheme was selected for the gowns to draw the viewer’s eye to the architecture of the gowns, and show them in a new, more contemporary light.” For more information about this exhibit, visit www.cityartscenter.org. City Arts Center is located at 3000 General Pershing Blvd, in Oklahoma City. For more information on Sketch to Screen visit www.okcmoa.com. n Ishmael-Waldrop is a free-lance writer, photographer, and a coop artist with Water Street Art Gallery in Sapulpa.
at a glance
bu s i n e s s o f a r t
What’s in a Title? by Janice McCormick Titles – they are the bane of artists, right up there with pricing their art. It can be difficult to come up with words that fit the work. Most artists tend to be more visual than verbal. And, there is a legitimate fear that a title would restrict or dictate the meaning of the art, rather than letting the art speak for itself. Thus the main task is to find the words that fit with the art. Let’s face it, titles are necessary and need not be a necessary evil. Think how difficult it would be to describe to a friend a work of art in an exhibit or to write a review about an exhibit where all the works are untitled. Getting clear about the various functions titles fulfill will help in deciding the type of title you want to use. On the most rudimentary level, titles should identify each individual work as well as distinguish one work from another; in which case, simply numbering the works will suffice. A step up would be to give it a brief, strictly descriptive title such as “Leaf,” “Horse in Meadow,” “Sarah in the Morning,” etc. Obviously, both can be combined as in “Leaf #3.” Besides helping the viewer and the artist alike in talking about the work, this type of title can help the artist keep track of his body of work. Obviously, this approach works well with representational art but, as the Pollock example below demonstrates, it can work with non-objective art, too. If you are just starting out as an artist, a descriptive title should be the default approach: it is informative and does not detract from the work itself. As you develop a larger body of work, however, you may find certain reoccurring motifs and themes cropping up. At this point, you may find the minimal approach too prosaic or limiting and wish to go a step farther. You then might venture into using
business of art
words that capture what your images are expressing. Here is where things can get tricky. What exactly does that entail? Let’s take a successful example where the title is apropos of the image: Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm #30. The first time I saw this work, I immediately recognized it as a Pollock. I noticed the colors – curving lines of black and white paint danced across the surface of the canvas. I read the label next to it. Yes, it was Pollock alright and the title Autumn Rhythm #30 invited me to return to the image. With the title in mind and spending more time examining the image, I now noticed that the entire canvas was not filled with dripped lines. Instead the light brown background had been washed onto the canvas and it was against this somber color that the predominantly black lines moved. The white lines added a dynamic tension. I felt the rhythm; I caught the feeling of a cold, hectic wind as if it were moving through dark, barren branches and felt the first signs of a wind-driven snowfall. The title clarified what was happening in the image; it encouraged me to return to the work in order to examine it more closely.
Your goal, then, is to come up with a fitting title that clarifies, while keeping the image center stage. There are three questions you need to ask yourself. Do I have a clear understanding of what my images are expressing? What are the emotional connotations of the words I am considering for the title as well as their denotations? What expectations do these connotations convey to the observer/reader?
Here is where you could draw upon the input of others – family, friends, a writer or poet, even an English teacher. Ideally, they will be familiar with your art. Roget’s Thesaurus might help as well. But, ultimately, the decision is yours. Another example illustrates the complex interplay of title, image and expectations. I became interested in the functions of titles when I was reviewing Krystal Tomshany’s art (for the March/April 2010 issue of Art Focus). The image, first seen via internet, was arresting. A purplish-black garment hung against a glowing light orange wall. It brought to mind an empty cocoon. Two origami birds suggested flight or freedom. When I then read the very first word of the title Portrait of my Daughter at Thirteen, I was taken up short. Portrait? Well, yes. There is the artistic tradition of empty articles of clothing (such as empty shoes) standing for the absent person. That fit the image. The rest of the title clarified the nature of that absence and the sort of freedom signified by the origami birds: a child growing up, growing more independent of the parent. The peculiar mix of loss and hope a parent has towards their adolescent child fits the palpable tension I felt between the purple and orange colors. Later on, when the exhibit was hanging at the TAC gallery, Tomshany had changed the title to Portrait of Kenzie at Thirteen. That change bothered me a bit. Why did I prefer the original title? What was the difference? I decided that this simple change had subtly altered my relationship to the image itself. The original, more general, title was more inclusive. Like the first person narrator in a novel, “my daughter” had invited me to take up the artist/parent perspective; whereas, the specificity of her daughter’s name ever so slightly distanced me from the image.
If you are just starting out as an artist, a descriptive title should be the default approach: it is informative and does not detract from the work itself. As you develop a larger body of work, however, you may find certain reoccurring motifs and themes cropping up. At this point, you may find the minimal approach too prosaic or limiting and wish to go a step farther.
Given the subtlety of language, coupled with uniqueness of your artistic vision, you can see the difficulty in coming up with fitting titles. There many ways you can go wrong. Here are just a few. One way would be to choose words that denotatively fit the image but have emotional connotations that do not mesh. For example, if it is a whimsical work, but the title suggests angst, then the viewer is left wondering: Am I missing something? The result may well engender in the viewer an attitude of “I don’t get it” and result in a dismissal of the art itself. Conversely, giving a humorous title to an angst-ridden work could discourage a serious attention to the image – once the viewer gets the joke, there is no need to look further. Another pitfall is to use an esoteric title that baffles the viewer. If you go this route, be prepared to give a parenthetical comment to clarify the title – sort of clarifying the clarification! If you decide not to explain the esoteric meaning, then the viewer for a moment or two may wonder about it. After all, they expect the title to be of use. Some people may Google the title, but most won’t
bother. Thus the title that ought to clarify fails to do so.
find to be a major fault of much didactic art and, I daresay, some conceptual art.
Trite titles are major turn offs and definitely detract from the uniqueness and/or originality of the imagery. Just as artists should avoid creating a cliché work of art, so should they avoid an equally cliché title. If it sounds like a Hallmark card, drop it. “Love is the Answer” might be true enough, but, when used as the title of a work exploring interpersonal dynamics, it might undermine a reciprocally serious exploration of the work by the viewer.
These are just a few ways titles can fail. The best titles are those that elucidate the image by encouraging and guiding the viewer to spend more time with the image. In these high tech times where instant communication results in short attention spans, a well-chosen, fitting title can be crucial and therefore well worth the effort to find. n
Instead of letting the title emerge from the imagery, an artist may be tempted to impose a conceptual framework upon the imagery by means of the title. This becomes problematic when the imagery fails to support the concept. I recall a photographic assemblage with a didactic title and an accompanying statement dealing with political prisoners, yet the actual photograph put a lie to the text. The viewer may come away feeling that the overarching message of the title is more vital than the image presented by the work. This I
Janice McCormick is an art reviewer who has been writing about art in Tulsa and Oklahoma since 1990. Currently she teaches philosophy part-time at Tulsa Community college. She can be reached at email@example.com.
business of art
July | august 2010
Thanks to this year’s Artist Survival Kit Committee and especially CoChairs Jennifer Barron and Curtis Jones. They helped generate ideas and coordinate workshops that reached a record number of participants this year. Their work grows the resources for artists’ careers. Save the date: OVAC’s fundraiser, the 12x12 Art Show & Sale, will be September 25, 2010. The capable Committee is hard at work to make the event fabulous again with Co-Chairs Sam Fulkerson and Margo Von Schlageter’s leadership. www.12x12OKC.org OVAC is hosting its first ever Leadership Institute for active volunteers and committee members on July 10. If you are serving OVAC as a volunteer or want to get more involved, this afternoon event will be for you. Contact Sarah McElroy for more information: 405-879-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We rely on the energy, ideas, and (hard) labor of volunteers for the reach of our services!
Looking for a presenter about the business of art or other topics? OVAC’s ARTiculate program provides a menu of workshops for artists and presentations on art-related topics. For example, workshop topics have included: Marketing for artists, Writing proposals for large projects, Preparing an artist’s portfolio, and Documenting your artwork in photos. You can host speakers for your class, club, organization or community. Check www.articulateok.org or call 405-879-2400 for more information. Recent OVAC grants were given to: Elyse Bogart, Norman, for attending the Society of North American Goldsmiths conference; Betty Bowen, Cushing, for the Red Dirt Printmakers group exhibition in Istanbul; Sarah Slough Chambers, Oklahoma City, for a new body of work entitled Our Beloved Other; Stephanie Leland, Oklahoma City, for film project Where did the Horny Toad Go?; Bartholommew Nkurumeh, Norman, for conference and field work in Ghana; and Annette Sinesio, Eufala, for New York City gallery tour and Council for Education in the Ceramics Arts Conference in Philadelphia. We wish them well with these projects! n
Elyse Bogart, Norman, Night at the Opera 1: Liu, mixed metals, spectrolite
Sarah Clough Chambers, Oklahoma City, Antique Napkin Dispenser, Oil on Panel, 16”x12”
Thank you to our New and Renewing Members from March and April 2010 M.J. Alexander and Alexander Knight Denise Alexander Bobby Anderson Margaret Aycock Keith Ball and Marti Jourden Marc Barker Rex Barrett Jennifer Barron and Bonnie Allen Michael W. Benton Andrew Boatman Bryan Boone Linda Bosteels Sam Botkin Patricia R Bradley Barbara Broadwell Arisha Burlingame Josh Buss and Sherry Ray Kim Camp John Campbell Jean Artman Campbell Claudia Carroll and Terry Phelps Angela and J. Justin Castro Betsy Cofer Michael A. Cook Cynthia Curry Gayle Curry Betty Dalsing Michael Dambold Sarah Davison Kay Deardorff Elise Deringer Wendte Rebecca Dierickx-Taylor Steve and Maggie Dixon Anke Dodson Ron du Bois Douglas Shaw Elder Janene Evard Jennifer Lynn Farrar Robert A. French
Darlene Garmaker Joseph Gierek Fine Art Patricia Gobbel Carla Goble Cristina Gonzalez Leanne Gross Grace Grothaus David Halpern Burt Harbison Abby Hardesty Pat Harris Virginia Harrison Kelly Hartley Carla Hefley Dana Helms Tony Hennigh Suzanne Henthorn Beverly Herndon Geoffrey Hicks Jonathan Hils Terrie Holly Dirk Hooper Kaylee Huerta Sharon Irla Jane Iverson Stephanie Jackson Lisa Jewell Dan and Renee Jones Micheal W. Jones Kyle Kern Joseph K. Kirk Benjamin Kjellman-Chapin Kate Kline Lindsey Larremore Randie Lee Katherine Liontas-Warren Jamie and Kim Lowe Haley Luna Dru Marseilles
Cindy Mason Joan Matzdorf Cindy Miller Thomas Mills Glenda Cook Mullins Kathleen Murray Jacklyn Patterson Jennifer Perry Lauren Pope Jackie Porter Patty S. Porter Raphael Pozos Isla Prater Scott Raffe Jim Roaix Julie Robertson Donna Robillard Mary Russell Candace R Schneider Harry and Joan Seay Carl and Beth Shortt Silver Alfred Smith Anne Spoon Rebecca St. Clair Brenda Thomas Glen Thomas Kathryn Trattner Dawn Truby Mark Waits Ramsey Walcher Crystal Walters Garrett, Sarah, and Posey Warmker Gigi Webb Raymond Weilacher Betty Wood Elia Woods Eric Wright
Ron Clarke Through July 28 The Pogue Gallery Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center 900 Centennial Plaza (580) 559-5353 ecok.edu
Fellowship: 75 Years of Taliesin Box Projects Through September 19 Price Tower Arts Center 510 Dewey Ave. (918) 336-4949 pricetower.org
Eric Humphries July 2 – August 6 Scribner’s Gallery & Studio 124 S. Independence (580) 234-2544 scribnersgallery.com
3d Men’s Group Exhibit Through July 17 Shelley Tate Garner August 4- September 18 Studio 107 Gallery 107 East Main (580) 224-1143 studio107ardmore.com John Kingerlee Exhibition July 1- October 2 Reception November 20 The Goddard Center 401 First Avenue SW (580) 226-0909 goddardcenter.org
Durham Mangum’s Artist Alley Through August Metcalfe Museum Rt. 1 Box 25 (580) 655-4467 metcalfemuseum.org
El Reno RCC Annual Fine Arts Faculty Show Through July 30 Redlands Community College (405) 262-2552 redlandscc.edu
Cara Barer, Torso (Rorschach), Archival Pigment Print on Rag Paper, 36”x36”, a part of the Altered Books exhibition at [ArtSpace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City, July 9-October 9.
Idabel West Mexican Ceramics Opens July 27 Lifewell Gallery Museum of the Red River 812 East Lincoln Road (580) 286-3616 museumoftheredriver.org
Paul Medina and Tom Toperzer Through July 9 2nd Friday Event August 13 Closing reception July 9, 7-9 Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery 122 East Main (405) 292-8095 mainsite-art.com
Carol Sinnreich, Kristen Vails, Sacha Van DeZande July 3Reception July 3, 7-9 The Leslie Powell Foundation and Gallery 620 D Avenue (580) 357-9526 lpgallery.org
Instrumental Art: Dixie Erickson June 11 – July 31 Photography by Mark Williams August 1-29 Performing Arts Studio 200 S. Jones (405) 307-9320 thepas.org
Firehouse Faculty Art Show July 2-30 Reception July 16, 7-9 Midsummer Night’s Fair July 9-10 Children’s Art Program Show August 13-27 Opening August 13, 6-10 Firehouse Art Center 444 South Flood (405) 329-4523 normanfirehouse.com Keepers of the Flame & Young Chickasaw Artists July – August Opening July 9 Jacobson House 609 Chautauqua (405) 366-1667 jacobsonhouse.com
Wanderlust: Travel and American Photography Through September 12 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 555 Elm Ave. (405) 325-4938 ou.edu/fjjma
Altered Books July 9- October 9 Reception July 9, 5-8 [ArtSpace] at Untitled 1 NE 3rd St. (405) 815-9995 artspaceatuntitled.org The Film Costumes of Edith Head Through August 21 Mother’s Hats: The Dorris Elliott Collection Through August 21 City Arts Center 3000 General Pershing Blvd. (405) 951-0000 cityartscenter.org Art-Made in America July 2- 30 Theresa Cannady and Dea Scales August 6- September 1 Contemporary Art Gallery 2829 Paseo (405) 848-8883
Tracey Harris, James Smith, Leslie Lienau, Eric Stevens, Harolyn Long July 2-July 30 Reception July 2, 6-10 JRB Art at the Elms 2810 North Walker (405) 528-6336 jrbartgallery.com The Passionate Lenses of Yousef Khanfar Through July 31 The Cowboy Way: Harold Holden August 1- November 30 Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum 1400 Classen Dr. (405) 235-4458 oklahomaheritage.com Fiberworks Through July 17 Rally on the Row July 24 – August 7 Individual Artists of Oklahoma 706 W Sheridan (405) 232-6060 iaogallery.org Suzanne King Randall, Claudia Carroll Phelps and Marvin Lee Through July 31 Lori Oden and Kate Rivers August 13- October 31 Istvan Gallery at Urban Art 1218 N. Western Ave. (405) 831-2874 istvangallery.com Flying High and Crash Landing: Bull Wrecks in Rodeo July 23- January 10 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd (405) 478-2250 nationalcowboymuseum.org
Eric Wright, El Reno, Struggle for Freedom, Concrete, 48”x36”, a part of the RCC Annual Fine Arts Faculty Show at Redlands Community College in El Reno through July 30.
Jennifer Barron Through August 1 East Gallery Tom Biggs Through August 8 Liz Roth August 16 - October 17 Governor’s Gallery Oklahoma State Capitol Galleries 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd (405) 521-2931 arts.ok.gov Sketch to Screen: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design Through August 15 Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch Drive (405) 236-3100 okcmoa.com
Youth and Family Services of El Reno Benefit August 9-14 National Watermedia Oklahoma August 29 – October 8 Nona Hulsey Gallery, Norick Art Center Oklahoma City University 1600 NW 26th (405) 208-5226 okcu.edu
Gloria Glassco & Carl Peterson Through July 25 Children’s Academy Exhibit August 1-29 Ponca City Art Center 819 East Central (580) 765-9746 poncacityartcenter.com
Tulsa Rendezvous 2010: Artists’ Retrospective and Art Sale Through July 11 Gilcrease Museum 1400 Gilcrease Road (918) 596-2700 gilcrease.org
Park Hill Trading Post Exhibit Through August 15 15th Annual Cherokee Homecoming Art August 21- September 26 Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc. 21192 S. Keeler Drive (918) 456-6007 cherokeeheritage.org
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. Sustaining $250 -Listing on signage at events -Invitation to private reception with visiting curators -All of below Patron $100 -Acknowledgement in the Resource Guide and Art Focus Oklahoma -Copy of each OVAC exhibition catalog -All of below Family $55 -Same benefits as Individual for two people in household Individual $35 -Subscription to Art Focus Oklahoma -Inclusion in online Virtual Gallery -Monthly e-newsletter of visual art events statewide -Monthly e-newsletter of opportunities for artists -Receive all mailed OVAC call for entries and invitations -Artist entry fees waived for OVAC sponsored exhibitions -Listing in Annual Resource Guide and Member Directory -Copy of Annual Resource Guide and Member Directory -Access to “Members Only” area on OVAC website -Up to 50% discount on Artist Survival Kit workshops -Invitation to Annual Meeting Student $20 -Valid student ID required. Same benefits as Individual level.
Beyond Bricks Through July 8 Ty-Pros Members Exhibit July 24-29 Bronner and Hammie August 6-26
Living Artspace 307 E. Brady (918) 585-1234 livingarts.org Bookworks II: Exploring the Book as Art Through July 4 To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures Through September 12 The Philbrook Museum of Art 2727 South Rockford Road (918) 749-7941 Philbrook.org Zac James Heimdale July TBA- 31 Sharyl Landis: To Bead or Not to Bead August 6-28 Tulsa Artists Coalition Gallery 9 East Brady (918) 592-0041 tacgallery.org GET INVOLVED
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730 W. Wilshire Blvd, Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116
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The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promotes public interest in the arts. Visit www.ovac-ok.org to learn more. Upcoming Events: July 10: OVAC Leadership Initiative July 15: OVAC Artist Grants Deadline August 7: Creative Capital: Verbal Communications workshop
July Tracey Harris James Smith Leslie Lienau Harolyn Long Eric Stevens Opening Reception: FRIDAY, JULY 2 6 - 10 P.M.
August Alan Atkinson Carol Beesley Debby Kaspari Opening Reception: FRIDAY, AUGUST 6 6 - 10 P.M.
2810 North Walker Oklahoma City, OK 73103 Phone: 405.528.6336 www.jrbartgallery.com
ART AT THE ELMS
Published on Jun 30, 2010
2010 July/August Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into a...