Art Focus Oklahoma, March/April 2011

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ArtOFocus k l a h o m a

Ok l a ho m a Vi s u a l A r ts C oal i t i on

Vo l u m e 2 6 N o . 2

Monstrous Beauty: The Art of Angie Piehl p.4

March/April 2011

Art OFocus k l a h o m a

Drawing by Emma Ann Robertson.

from the editor This time of year is always filled with anticipation. The ground is thawing and many are preparing for the deluge of art events that emerge in the spring. The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition office is electric with preparations for some of our biggest events of the year happening in March and April. In this issue of Art Focus Oklahoma you’ll find previews of Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still (p. 10), the Tulsa Art Studio Tour (p. 16) and the Art 365 exhibition (p. 20). At all of these events, you’ll experience fresh, new art and get a chance to meet the artists behind it.

In this issue, you’ll also be introduced to three artists whose work will give you cause to look more closely. What you think you see may not be true. Stillwater artist Angie Piehl (cover, p. 4) carefully selects imagery, texture and form from glossy lifestyle magazines and combines them to create new images. The result may appear something like a microscopic view of a strange organism. Similarly, Oklahoma City artist Sarah Hearn (p. 6) has created an unnatural history that mimics scientific research. You may find yourself wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. At the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Jill Downen’s (p. 14) work responds to and alters perceptions of the built environment and its relationship to the human form. What questions might you ask these artists, given the chance? I hope you’ll take advantage of the coming opportunities to meet the artists who live in your community and enrich our lives with their work. Lastly, watch our blog at for additional images and other content that relate to this issue.

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: 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 July 2010-June 2011: R.C. Morrison, Bixby; Margo Shultes von Schlageter, MD, Rick Vermillion, Edmond; Eric Wright, El Reno; Traci Harrison (Secretary), Enid; Suzanne Mitchell (President), Norman; Jennifer Barron (Vice President), Susan Beaty, Stephen Kovash, Paul Mays, Carl Shortt, Suzanne Thomas, Christian Trimble, Oklahoma City; Joey Frisillo, Sand Springs; Anita Fields, Stillwater; Bradley Jessop, Sulphur; 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.

Kelsey Karper

Member Agency of Allied Arts and member of the Americans for the Arts. © 2011, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved. View this issue online at

On the Cover Angie Piehl, Stillwater, Imperious, White pencil on black paper, 22” x 30”



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Monstrous Beauty: The Art of Angie Piehl



Stillwater artist Angie Piehl combines imagery plucked from glossy lifestyle magazines to create works that seem out of this world.

Science Fictions: The Artwork of Sarah Hearn

After recently completing her graduate studies, Sarah Hearn continues her multimedia explorations of unnatural histories.

8 Bright Colors, Shiny Things and Experimentation

Tulsa artist Heidi de Contrares shares her creative enthusiasm with budding young artists.

p re v i e w s 10 Momentum Spotlight 2011

Three of Oklahoma’s most promising young artists are creating ambitious new work for Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still.


14 Two Folds and Counterparts: Jill Downen at OKCMOA

St. Louis-based sculptor Jill Downen investigates the relationships between the human form and the built environment in her exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

16 Inside the Artist’s Studio

Nine Tulsa artists open their studio doors for the Tulsa Art Studio Tour.

f e a t u re s 18 On the Map: The Pearl Gallery

Situated in the heart of Tulsa’s Peal District, The Pearl Gallery is a key part of the area’s revitalization.

20 In Dialogue: Art 365 Curator Shannon Fitzgerald

In conversation with Julia Kirt, the Art 365 curator discusses the drive behind her practice and the year-long Art 365 project.


Photo by Richard Sprengeler.

a t a g l a n c e 23 Students Curate Thought-provoking Stare Stare Stereo

Thoughtfully paired photographs invite viewers to become active participants in a visual dialogue in this exhibition at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art.

business of art 24 Every Artist Insured

The recent passage of the Affordable Care Act could have a significant impact on the health and well-being of artists.

26 Dawdle Do, Dawdle Da.


Artists, take caution. Are you taking care of business or procrastinating the real task at hand?


28 Honoring OVAC Volunteers 29 OVAC Round Up 30

Gallery Guide (p. 6) Sarah Hearn, Oklahoma City, A New Taxonomy (detail), part of the exhibition An Unnatural History. (p. 10) Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still will be held March 4-5, 2011 in downtown Oklahoma City. (p. 14) Jill Downen, St. Louis, Hard Hat Optional (installation detail), Lumber, polystyrene, gypsum, approx. 48” x 48” x 48”. (p. 16) Printmaking supplies at the ready inside May Yang’s Tulsa studio, on the Tulsa Art Studio Tour.


Monstrous Beauty: The Art of Angie Piehl by Allison Meier

Angie Piehl, Stillwater, Surge, Graphite on archival paper, 38” x 50”

Tentacles twist over dark backgrounds and hold in their coiled grasp fragments of luxury, diamonds and pearls. Glimpses of animals and plants whirl and merge around them into an organism that is both beautiful and grotesque. Angie Piehl’s art that winds the manmade and organic together has undergone many evolutions, but her focus has always been on “the construction of identity as it relates to gender, sexuality and the organic body.”

“Initially, as an art student, when I began to think about art-making in a critical way, the content in my work was very overt – confrontational even – in terms of challenging gender norms and stereotypes,” she said. “As I have matured as an artist, being confrontational has become less important to me. I now enjoy that there are many possibilities for reading my work, and that the imagery and content has become more ambiguous and open.” Using upbeat, glossy lifestyle magazines like


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Martha Stewart Living, Vogue and O Magazine as inspiration, the Stillwater-based artist responds to mass media ideas of femininity and luxury by reflecting a darker side of the “bourgeois lifestyle.” Editorial and commercial images are warped and abstracted by skin, hair, tentacles, bone, muscles and crystalline structures. “When I look at a magazine like Martha Stewart Living, I have a layered response,” she said. “I am initially drawn to all the color and pattern, and the seduction of the advertising

images, but the notions of gender that are often espoused in a luxury magazine like that are personally difficult for me to relate to. I do not live like, or look like, the women depicted on the pages of Martha Stewart magazine!” Her art is an examination from a gender-queer perspective of American society’s constructs, with results that are both alluring and repulsive. Something possibly dangerous lurks in her art, where a carved diamond is wrapped in soft, severed tentacles, and florals often contrast their patterns with bones. “I might see a jewelry ad– a sparkling wedding ring, a Photoshopped blur in the background, soft, reflective or ambient light,” she said. “Aesthetically, the ad is really appealing, but as a queer person, I have little relationship to the marketing strategy of that ad. So this is a loaded image for me.” While she does not physically put cut pictures from magazines in her work, she builds a visual collage of commercial images with delicate, fragile and bizarre natural forms. Using watercolors, graphite or oil paint, she combines fabrics, jewels and decorative elements with plants, wood, rocks, feathers and bones.

“I like to think about the things that we value as a society, for whatever reason, and where they come from,” she said. “Diamonds come from the deep recesses of the earth. Pearls come from inside the dark guts of a weird creature in the ocean. These are mysterious natural places, and yet we put these natural substances through synthetic processes to create a symbolic form, like a ring.” After receiving a BFA from the University of Texas in Austin, she earned an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Upon graduation she began teaching, and is currently Assistant Professor of Drawing, Painting and Digital Art at Oklahoma State University. “I have always drawn and doodled, even from a very young age, and I was always encouraged to be creative as a kid,” she said. “I never really took lessons or had any formal training until I went to college. While I was in college, I learned to think about art as a means of saying something interesting, and I started making work in order to question and discuss the things I thought about.” Piehl received OVAC Creative Projects grants in 2008 and 2010, and has exhibited her works of monstrous beauty in numerous solo and group shows. In 2008, she exhibited Curiosities of the Floating World at chashama Gallery in New York, where strange, richly colored forms rose like creatures from the depths of dark backgrounds. Recently, she has concentrated on drawing, with graphite on white paper and white pencil on black paper. Her Organic Excess drawing series has pearls, foliage and obscure animal shapes combining into one dark being. Pieces from the series were included in Art on Paper 2010: The 41st Exhibition at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “My process is pretty organic and intuitive, and has become more so over the years as my work has developed,” she said. “I think this is what is becoming most interesting to me lately in terms of process: the freedom and immediacy of just beginning, and seeing what kind of creature is going to emerge from what I have gathered.” To view more of Angie Piehl’s art, visit n Allison C. Meier is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She works in communications at the Cooper Union and has covered visual arts in Oklahoma for several years. She can be reached at

Angie Piehl, Stillwater, Crowning, Graphite on archival paper, 38” x 50”

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Science Fictions: The Artwork of Sarah Hearn by Jennifer Barron

Installation view of Sarah Hearn’s An Unnatural History at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Courtesy of multimedia artist Sarah Hearn, you are cordially invited to explore the Institute of Aquatic Research. Founded in 2008, this unique organization brings viewers to a submarine world charted through detailed research, one-of-a-kind depictions of undersea plant and animal life, and bizarre and captivating scientific histories. Throughout its website at, visitors can experience a new world. In fact, this world is entirely new. The website, the research, the creatures and the Institute itself are completely invented by the artist. An Unnatural History- an installation and body of work blurring the boundaries between science, science fiction, and art- was recently on


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display at [ArtSpace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City, featuring much of Hearn’s thesis project from her graduate work at the Rochester Institute of Technology. An Unnatural History was included as a part of the Creativity World Biennale, an exhibition that featured representatives from eight different regions of the world- from Flanders, Belgium and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Oklahoma. Hearn – along with Tulsa artists Bob Sober and Tom Pershall and Oklahoma City artist Brian Eyerman – represented Oklahoma in the Biennale. “One person was actually really upset with me,” she tells me. “She felt lied to.” Hearn’s goal with this body of work is not to deceive, but since this work confronts viewers with the very ways we process information and blurs lines between ‘real’ and ‘made-up,’ our ability to interpret

facts is directly confronted, and a little disorientation is inevitable. One of Hearn’s overarching themes is representation. “Representation is what we use to convey facts, but sometimes that can be misconstrued or manipulated.” In Hearn’s hands, the subtle differences between the presentations of information in art galleries versus science museums are plumbed to offer viewers an unanticipated look at the way we perceive data. The display for An Unnatural History includes a variety of alleged underwater specimens, preserved in jars or captured on film. It is easy to wonder where fact ends and fabrication begins. Allowing people to question this straightforward presentation also encourages viewers to consider how often information is designed to be simply accepted wholesale. Where one person might feel tricked, another might feel increased agency, encouraged to dig deeper into the different types of information that we are presented each day. Hearn has been a practicing artist for close to a decade, but her work has gained both focus and flexibility from her graduate studies at Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to graduate school, Hearn’s work was heavily process-focused, combining film photography with baking in order to create a unique style. The results of this method are abstract, translucent images somewhat similar to X-ray films – a look that lends itself well to her current body of work. Hearn still employs this process, but combines it with a wide array of methods to express her concepts. At RIT, she had the flexibility to focus her themes and to create work in very different platforms at the same time. She was able to pursue her interest in science in the service of her art, and use this research to investigate the idea of communication. “Art is powerful,” she explains. “It allows communication without verbal language. Because of this, it can challenge people, and it has a responsibility to challenge.” As she says this, she also mentions her interest in the scientific process, a sequential process used for testing theories, collecting data, and organizing other scientific information. The scientific method, she explains, also has the ability – and the responsibility – to challenge. “Science presents facts you can’t see with the naked eye: preserved microbes that are 15,000 years old, for example.” To Hearn, science and art are parallel in their ability to communicate new ideas to people in ways that are intuitive, with or without verbal language.

feedback she received particularly valuable. “Critiques could be brutal, but those critiques benefitted me more than anything.” While Sarah Hearn’s work has developed a great deal since her time at the Rochester Institute of Technology, her distinctive vision and her tendency to employ non-traditional methods remain characteristics of her art. Though the questions and themes addressed in An Unnatural History may be ambitious and even challenging at times, Hearn’s artwork and her playful Institute of Aquatic Research invites viewers to participate and even interact with her work. Hearn’s future projects are still developing, but she is already contemplating blurring more boundaries. “I’m really interested in playing with the context of where and why: Where is art shown? Where do people look at art? And why show it?” Hearn speaks about her career with enthusiasm. She is in a place where she has control of her career and is able to focus in the directions she chooses. “I’m excited to get started on whatever is next.” n

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.a

Sarah Hearn, Oklahoma City, Gallius culliube, (Ga 31) from New Taxonomy, a part of An Unnatural History.

Through her graduate education, Hearn has been able to maintain her focus on her original goals: to teach, to live in Oklahoma City, to gain a meaningful education, and to keep moving forward professionally. When asked how her experience in graduate school affected the work she produces, she answers that it didn’t fundamentally change her ideas, but that it gave her freedom to dive deeper into ideas she already had, and to explore different methods of expressing those ideas. “It’s not for everyone,” she comments about her graduate school experience, “and there were a few people in my class that didn’t have as positive an experience as I did. But it was a great experience for me… I didn’t know what to expect when I started, but I knew what I wanted out of it.” She also credits her graduate work with increasing her confidence in her work. “It helped me grow a thicker skin,” she says, “and it helped me stay more open, get comfortable with disagreement.” She found the

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Bright Colors, Shiny Things and Experimentation by Sheri Ishmael-Waldrop

Heidi de Contreras in her Tulsa studio.

The earliest memories of creating art come at the age of four when her mother taught her to draw faces by drawing an oval with a cross for correct eyes, nose and mouth placement.

“What I like best about teaching children is that they are natural risktakers when experimenting with their art, like sponges that absorb and wring back out tons of creativity. They are natural artists,” she said.

“I loved painting at the easel in kindergarten,” artist Heidi de Contreras said. “As I grew, I painted a portrait of Jesus in a paint-by-number set I got for Christmas which frustrated me! As a child and teenager my hands were busy. I made Romeo and Juliet puppets for an English project, macramé and jute wall hangings with homemade carrot beads, and antique skeleton keys.”

She has taught children for over twenty-five years, with a background in educational training. “I hope above all, that they take away from my classes the confidence that they can make art on their own, that I am only a guide, teaching them how to use their tools and pull on their own creativity,” she said.

De Contreras is a self-taught multi-media artist with an incessant inventive streak, and a children’s writer with a passion for teaching and nurturing her students’ “artist within.” Her love of art and the method of creating has given her the drive to share through teaching.


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“I want viewers, especially my students, to take away a desire to create their own art, pulling from their own creative well-spring. I also want my art to cause the viewers to come up with their own conclusions about the story in my painting,” she said.

Her art school, located in Tulsa’s Brookside district, meets in the Trinity United Methodist Church at 37th Place and Peoria. Classes and private lessons are available for all ages in drawing, painting, mixed media, pastels, stained glass, card-making, puppet making and more. “Many of my students become art school helpers and interns as they mature,” said de Contreras. “Some have even turned into film producing interns, and art entrepreneurs selling their art at churches, shows and local businesses. Many have won local, national and even international art competitions, which is exciting!”

draws her to the subject of her paintings. Other times it is an emotional draw to the subject. For more about the artist and her classes, visit n Sheri Ishmael Waldrop is a freelance writer and photographer from Sapulpa, and the director for Sapulpa Arts.

She categorizes her oil paintings as “coloristic expressionism-abstract” and other artwork as more whimsical, eclectic, or thought-provoking. She experiments all the time. She said that is why her work is in such a variety of media. One experiment leads to another. If she “botches” a watercolor painting, rather than tossing the painting she cuts it up and creates an abstract on watercolor paper. “It then becomes a puzzle for me to figure out,” she said. “I use glass beads, pen and ink and metallic markers to complete the art. I love the results and I love the process! The rest is history.” It is important for her to harmonize opposite colors on the color wheel without neutralizing them. However, by creating grays she feels her focal colors pop. De Contreras almost always uses red and yellow, even if the red isn’t apparent, it is there as a base wash. She is inspired by rich bold color, the sky, the moon, the forces of nature, telling stories with her art through the use of metaphor, texture, depth, light and vibrant color, and at times it’s a poem that inspires her works, whatever strikes her at the time. De Contreras enjoys oil painting on canvas and board, watercolor on 140 lb and 300 lb cold-press Arches paper and making homemade paper out of trash paper, toilet paper rolls, old cards, etc. Her mixed media collages are often made with rice papers, Thai mango and Thai banana papers, Thai Unryu papers in rich colors and Japanese Ogura Lace Papers in the natural. Glass is used to create mixed media glass collages and one of a kind Angels with Attitude. Hand painted fabric is created by using acrylic based paint on a variety of unbleached muslin and canvas duck for the one-of-a-kind designer pillows, Hippie Chick dolls, and purses. A demand for these pillows and dolls has arisen in Arroyo Seco, NM. “My collage purses are based on a hodgepodge of fabrics in all colors and textures, from leopard and zebra to Sari brocades in bright colors to upholstery fabrics and even my hand painted fabric scraps,” she said. In addition, she works in watercolors, pen & ink, Prismacolor pencils, and pencil portraiture, while designing one-of-a-kind handbags, beaded scarves and necklaces. She prefers bright, bold colors, but at times the drama of dark shadow against the light

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Momentum Spotlight 2011 by Sasha Spielman

Garlic, buffalos, and a parachute: all three are key elements in the artists’ projects which are part of the upcoming Momentum Spotlight. Every year, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) selects three artists, 30 years of age or younger, to showcase original work for Momentum Spotlight, a part of the annual Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still exhibition. The exhibition and event will be March 4-5, 2011 from 8-midnight each night in Oklahoma City. Each Momentum Spotlight artist receives a $1,750 honorarium and the opportunity to work with distinct curators as mentors. This year, the Momentum Spotlight artists are Sarah Engel, JP Morrison and Alexandra Knox. Erinn Gavaghan, Director of Norman Art Council and Momentum Emerging Curator, said about the three artists, “I love them! All three are producing vastly different work from each other and yet they share a common maturity that isn’t always seen in young artists.” Sarah Engel, an art student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, is working to wow the public with her project called Ghosts of Buffaltopia Past, Present, and Future. Through her exhibit, Engel, an Oklahoma native, reflects on the abrupt changes in technology and environment leaving devastating damages to the buffalo population. “The pieces for the Momentum show will culminate in an exhibit somewhere between art and natural history museum display,” Engel said. “It will feature the buffalo’s great artwork, maps, historical photographs and artifacts.”

Collaging images, from the first buffalo on the moon to the homeless buffalo living on the streets, Engel’s exhibit tells the story of what the world would look like if humans lived as refugees, as they nearly go extinct, while another species ruled our planet. Clint Stone, Director of IAO Gallery and lead Momentum Curator, said, “I look forward to observing how she will use her problemsolving skills as she combines a physiological understanding, her own imagination and a bit of whimsy to create a pseudo-natural history exhibition.” JP Morrison’s exhibit bares the title Mono-no-aware, the Japanese term for the “ahh-ness” of things. In her project, Morrison will create an environment for the viewer by mounting a parachute symbolizing the Heavens, light bulbs as the clouds, and a reliquary containing two self-portrait paintings. Morrison said the showcase is deeply personal and she is using her personal life experiences as an inspiration. “It’s about my own internalizing and externalizing of the world,” she said. “I have no desire to create a piece that seems self-indulgent, but I do want to explore the way I deal with life.” Morrison, who works primarily in two-dimensional media, received her BFA from the Kansas City Arts Institute. However, after graduation she moved back to Oklahoma and decided to experiment and create three-dimensional environments which incorporate her two-dimensional work.

(left) JP Morrison, Bixby, Through the Looking Glass, Colored pencil and acrylic on board, 24” x 18”. (right) JP Morrison in her Bixby studio, working with pieces of glass that will create portals within her self-portrait works for Momentum Spotlight.


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“This is probably the most ambitious piece I’ve done,” said Morrison. In her Mono-no-aware exhibition, the artist aims at instilling the viewer with thoughts of joy, flaws, lost lovers, and past tender experiences, along with the other emotions that make a person go “ahhh.” Stone said, “In this case, the artist is using a more tangible and mixed assortment of found and made objects to encourage reflection.” Alexandra Knox, an East Carolina University BFA graduate, named her exhibit The Scent in Which She Lingers, inspired by her Ukrainian grandmother who passed away, leaving the artist valuable memories. The Scent in Which She Lingers, consists of more than 500 handmade silk organza pouches filled with garlic skins hanging from the ceiling, while a looped video of Knox’s grandmother cooking is projected onto them, creating an intimate space between light and shadow. Knox said that garlic was often used by her grandmother, not only in traditional Ukrainian dishes, but also as a medicinal remedy. “Even though The Scent in Which She Lingers is derivative of memories of my grandmother,” said Knox, “I think there is a possibility for the viewer to consider their own families and perhaps histories that can be unveiled, and therefore could become a source of self-discovery for others as well.” The Scent in Which She Lingers may have started as a tribute to her Ukrainian roots but may end up being a journey of self-discovery for Knox, who hopes viewers will be captivated by the different sensorial experiences she has incorporated in her installation. “Knox’s multi-sensory installation explores memory through sight, smell and touch as she invites us into her own family lineage and memories,” said Stone. “I believe it will foster both a sense of comfort and melancholy.” Momentum Spotlight was created specifically for young artists to give them exposure outside the opportunities found on university campuses. For many artists, Momentum is the first professional experience on a bigger scale. The program is statewide. contnued to pg. 12

(above) Alexandra Knox, Norman, The Scent in Which She Lingers, an installation for Momentum Spotlight with over 500 silk organza pouches filled with garlic skins.

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contnued from pg. 11 “What is so important about Momentum and other similar programs is that it allows young artists to make that first, difficult step of getting their art out to an audience,” said Gavaghan. For all three artists, Momentum is a major showcase and, as Stone said, “introspection, experimentation and good craftsmanship can be expected from all three artists.” Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still will be held March 4-5, 2011 at the Farmer’s Public Market, 311 S. Klein Ave. in Oklahoma City. For more information and to view video interviews with the Momentum Spotlight artists, visit n Sasha Spielman is a freelance writer, who has covered a variety of stories from entertainment to hard news. She currently hosts an online travel show and in her spare time writes for magazines.

(above right) Sarah Engel in her Norman studio. (below right) Sarah Engel, Norman, Buffaltopia Map, Circa 1500, a part of her Momentum Spotlight project Ghosts of Buffaltopia Past, Present, and Future.


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Two Folds and Counterparts: Jill Downen at the OKCMOA by Tiffany Barber

The popular multiplayer online roleplaying game World of Warcraft features a Corporeality Spell that phases the virtual spell-caster between the physical and twilight realms. While the caster is able to vacillate between realms, the caster is also left exposed and vulnerable to bodily damage in both environments. World of Warcraft recreates in the virtual world what St. Louis-based sculptor Jill Downen takes up in the physical, material world with her site-responsive installations. Downen casts her own spell and addresses issues of corporeality in her latest project, Counterparts, creating environments wherein viewers vacillate between construction and decay, between reality and fantasy. Jill Downen’s artistic investigations into how the built environment and the human form respond to and are informed by respective systems and structures began when she was a painting and printmaking student at the Kansas City Art Institute in the late 1980s. Downen’s interests continued to evolve and she went on


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to receive her MFA in Sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis in 2001. Downen’s installations, drawings and models express a symbiotic relationship between the anatomies of architecture and the human form, conceptually focused on the forces of construction, deterioration, and restoration. From Posture of Place (2004) to (dis)Embody (2006) to Hard Hat Optional (2009), Downen’s installations temporarily transform empty walls and floors and immerse viewers in a sculptural redesign of a building’s space that literally melds the human form with the interior architecture. In the work, bulges, wrinkles, tendons and biomorphic elements typically protrude from walls, floors and support structures. Downen’s installations seek to enlarge the viewer’s awareness of space, time and place, and as the artist describes, “The work concerns the notion that a building is a body, conditioned by its materiality, location, social position, and cultural environment.” Downen’s work envisions a place of exchange and interdependence while

the work itself is dependent on an exchange with and relationship to the body, with her installations activated by the presence of the viewer. With Counterparts, Downen returns to her inquiries around architecture and the human body with ten original sculptures and explores various additional polarities, such as absence and presence, masculinity and femininity, and fantasy and reality. Two of Downen’s most recent projects, (dis) Mantle (2010) and Hard Hat Optional (2009), illustrate the artist’s conceptual concerns. Both projects emphasized the transformation of place. (dis)Mantle altered the interior of the Luminary Center for the Arts’ vaulted chapel by concealing doorways and electrical features and painting the entire space plaster white. With Hard Hat Optional, the work invited viewers to question whether the site was in a process of construction or deconstruction by navigating around lumber support structures, folds of architectural skin and precarious stacks of flesh-like blocks. One of the sculptures included in Hard Hat Optional, Component 9: Breast Blocks on Palette, made

some of Downen’s other subtle concerns more visible. Downen’s installations not only examine a certain interdependency between architecture and human anatomy but also between architecture and human sexuality. Downen’s selectively curvy, feminine forms intervene in rigid, cubic gallery spaces and immediately evoke a tension between expressions of masculinity and femininity in sculpture, architecture and in nature. In addition to her sculptural practice, Downen adds a layer of intimacy to her large-scale installations with Hybrida (2007-present), an ongoing series of works on paper that are made by pouring plaster directly onto the surface of paper while it lays flat on a table. The resulting low-relief images feature architectural elements, such as walls or corners that blend with qualities of flesh similar to skin and bone to create enigmatic, abstract shapes. For Downen, her works on paper and models magnify the efforts of her installations by offering a close reading of the overlapping systems of architectural forms and human anatomy. Often using white plaster as her medium of choice, Downen’s sculptural installations couple evocative forms with an absence of color. Downen’s employment of monochromatic environments represents an ordering of space that is simultaneously limitless and without distraction. Downen’s visual vocabulary, while at first clinical, quickly moves from monotonous to meditative and creates a transcendental space for the viewer. It is here that the artist’s concerns around the sociology of space and place emerge. Rather than relegating architecture to the limits of function and form, Downen disembodies the standard elements of architecture and uses deconstructed environments of I-beams, plaster sculptures and wooden palettes to play with concepts of totality, interdependence, mortality, decay and spatiotemporal existence. This approach is at the center of Counterparts. Predominantly hand carved with traditional techniques, the ten sculptures featured in the exhibition also take on the physicality of human labor and touch. With her oeuvre of interior interventions, Downen’s Counterparts charts multiple intersections – architecture and the human body, masculinity and femininity, space and time, and the imagined and the real – and casts its own Corporeality Spell that calls the viewer’s own existence into question. Counterparts, which runs through May 8, 2011, is the third installment of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s NEW FRONTIERS series. NEW FRONTIERS presents the work of individual contemporary artists and current perspectives in the field. Visit for more information. n See more images of Jill Downen’s work on the OVAC blog at

Jill Downen, St. Louis, Hard Hat Optional (installation detail), Lumber, polystyrene, gypsum, Dimensions vary. Courtesy of the artist and Bruno David Gallery. Photo by Richard Sprengeler.

Tiffany Barber is a freelance writer and organizer living in Oklahoma City. Her visual art reviews and feature articles have been published in Beautiful/Decay, THE Magazine Los Angeles, Public Art Review, Art Focus and online publications for ForYourArt and Evil Monito Magazine.

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Inside the Artist’s Studio by Kelsey Karper

May Yang, Tulsa, Departure (Return Flight Home), Hand printed lithograph, 15” x 20”

The smell of wet paint, freshly cut wood or screen printing inks are a clue that you’re in the right place. During the Tulsa Art Studio Tour on April 9th and 10th, visitors are welcome to experience the behind-the-scenes work of artists, mess and all. Each year the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition organizes the Tulsa Art Studio Tour to give the public an opportunity to see artists in their working spaces, talk with them about their creations, as well as view and buy artwork. This year, the tour features nine artists working in a range of artistic media including painting, printmaking, wood and more. Visitors will be able to see works in progress and gain insight into the creative process. “I’m excited to share my studio practice with the public and show the environment where I work,” said May Yang, a printmaker featured on the Tulsa Art Studio Tour. “One of the most frequent questions I get asked is ‘What is screen printing?’ and I think having the opportunity to show people the process and


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possibly have them try it first-hand will give them a better understanding of my work and how it comes together.” Other artists on the tour hope to inspire others to make time for their own creativity. Illustrator Kim Doner said, “Events like this are energy exchanges with interested folks. [It’s] about encouraging others to try something they’ve always wanted to do but have not managed to attempt.” The Tulsa Art Studio Tour is planned by a committee of Tulsa artists and volunteers and is led by co-chairs Janet Shipley Hawks and Christopher Owens. “The annual Tulsa Art Studio Tour is one of the most important art events in Tulsa,” said Hawks, a Tulsa fiber artist. “It is an opportunity for the public to learn about and meet artists they may or may not have ever heard of and to see how and where they create. It is also a wonderful experience for the artist to get to share their artwork and the inspiration behind it with the public.”

A preview exhibition will give audiences a chance to see examples of artwork from artists on the tour, meet the artists and purchase tour passports. The preview exhibition will be on display at the Circle Cinema gallery, 12 S. Lewis Ave. in Tulsa March 3-April 4. A kickoff celebration is planned for Thursday, March 10th from 5-8 pm. The Tulsa Art Studio Tour will be April 9th and 10th, Noon-5 pm each day. Passports to the tour include a map and are $5 in advance and $10 at the studio door. Visitors who get their passport stamped at all nine studios during the tour dates will be registered to win a prize. For more information, please visit or call the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition at 405-879-2400. n Kelsey Karper is editor of Art Focus Oklahoma and a photographer working in historic and alternative processes. She can be reached at

Tulsa Art Studio Tour 2011 Artists Michael Benton Wood 2207 E. 6th St. Christine Sharp Crowe Printmaking 5421 E. 89th St. Kim Doner Illustration 8736 S. Evanston Ave. Alan Frakes Painting 4184 S. Birmingham Pl. Mark Hawley Furniture 702 S. Utica Ave. George Kountoupis Painting 5523 E. 48th Pl. Steven Rosser Painting and printmaking 5514 E. 110th Pl. Celeste Vaught Painting 5211 S. Columbia Ave. (top) Celeste Vaught, Tulsa, Phoenix Cleaners, Acrylic, 9� x 12� (bottom) Kim Doner, Tulsa, Queen of Hearts, Illustration

May Yang Printmaking 4619 E. 87th Pl.

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The Pearl Gallery Adding Luster to the Pearl District by B. L. Eikner


The Pearl Galley, located at 1201 East 3rd Street in Tulsa, is in the heart of the Pearl District, which is situated in the center of the Elm Creek Drainage basin on the east edge of downtown Tulsa. From 1909 to present, it has seen a number of transformations from manufacturing of cotton, glass and other industries to decay. It has gone from apartment living to a decline in residential housing due to movement to the suburbs, and now a revitalization effort to bring people and life back to the area. The Pearl District, like many downtown communities, is on the rise with the addition of the BOK Center, Blue Dome area, John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, Drillers Park, Greenwood Community and others bringing people and businesses back. Doug and Janet Edwards are the owners of the popular and well-known The Pearl Gallery. Doug is the artist in the house with skills from painting to woodwork and Janet is the collector, business manager and art aficionado. This interview focuses on the business of art and the impact it has had on the community’s rise. Barbara Eikner: What made you decide to go into the gallery business? Janet Edwards: We had been looking for a building to work in as part of our business and as a studio for Doug. Both Doug and I liked the downtown area so our journey brought us to 3rd Street and Peoria. The Gallery was an extension of the space. My background is business management, but as a child I was exposed to art and developed a love for it with the guidance of my mother who was an avid collector. She ensured many museum visits around the country for us as children. The love of cuttingedge art and the gallery being a natural extension to studio space are the two primary reasons for us moving into the gallery business. BE: Why did you locate in the Pearl District? JE: We did not realize until we started researching that the area was once called The Pearl. Therefore, we named the gallery after the district and spent many wonderful and joyful hours, days and months rehabbing the building. The location was perfect, near downtown and in the middle of a once prosperous community. We opened in 2005. BE: Doug, How long have you been an artist? Doug Edwards: I am a self-taught artist and have been painting, sculpting and doing make-up art for over 30 years. I have attended many schools/classes to develop my techniques and skills. My studies


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started at Sausalito Art Center in the late ‘60s, in fact I was on my way to Woodstock and made a left turn in Kansas and ended up in San Francisco. Make-up art has given me an opportunity to work with major and independent films and with such actors as John Carradine and Vincent Schiavelli (subway ghost in the movie Ghost). BE: Talk about your signature show, The Long Hot Summer! DE: One evening a group of us (artists, art lovers, etc.) were sitting around talking about nudes and someone said, “No one shows nudes in this town, because nudes don’t sell.” Then, all of a sudden, I had a flash back of a Paul Newman movie The Long Hot Summer and thus the show was born. Our first show was July 2006 and we used the brown bag and string as the shows motif. We covered the windows with brown paper to add a little drama (however, that did not mean anything to people under 35). We realize that we had created an age gap because the brown bag is not used anymore. (smile) The night of the opening, the air conditioner went out so we indeed had a long hot evening. The gallery was crowded with over 350 people and we realized that nudes do not sell but they make for a great show. We have moved our theme to nudes and whimsy to add spark for artists who do not do nudes. BE: What makes The Pearl Gallery stand out from other galleries? JE: The gallery reminds many of our patrons of the New York galleries. The feeling is great and when people come in, they do not want to leave. The gallery is about 4,000 square feet and having the kitchen has helped. The kitchen gives it a homey feel. Our clientele is varied and people feel comfortable to talk, mingle, meet new friends, view and buy art when they are here. BE: How do you find artists? JE: We are fortunate that artists find us. We have a reputation for being fair. Our average opening is 250-300 people so the artist gets a lot of exposure and opportunity to sell their works. Our position is to pay on time, which is important to the artist. There have been galleries that closed in town and the artists come to us to show their work. We do not do artist calls. BE: What are your upcoming shows for 2011? JE: We do four shows a year, one each season. The Long Hot Summer in July is the signature show. The others are still in the planning stage.

BE: As we enter the New Year, what is the goal of Pearl Gallery? JE: Our primary goal in 2011 is to improve the quality of art that we display and to ensure that we can offer reasonably priced art and consistently exhibit the best local and regional art available to the public. BE: Does the gallery community work as a team in Tulsa?

JE: Everybody is supportive of each other, because we want to promote art in Tulsa. For example, Michael Benton of the Sixth Street Gallery and I share posters and cards on some shows to promote each other. We all concentrate on making our businesses successful. BE: Is Tulsa the place to draw new art aficionados from outside the state?

JE: There is the east coast and west coast art attitude and then there is the reality of art, which is do you like it, can you look at it everyday and where do you go to get good art. Tulsa has a good variety of artists and the important thing is getting it in the hands of people who want it. It’s good to have a good piece of original art and that is our focus. We do not do prints or giclÊes. We ask our photographers for the number of originals they print so that we can ensure our client does not have something that everyone has. Our niche is local and regional artists and original work. We hope as people visit Tulsa art is on their mind and that they stop at The Pearl Gallery. Many Tulsans travel the country and the world and the word is getting out that there is art in Tulsa. BE: How does your gallery support the community?

JE: Our support starts with showing local and regional artists so that they have a venue to sell their works. We have hosted events for the YWCA, and fundraisers for other organizations. I serve as board member of the World Services Council of YWCA and we support initiatives such as Uganda and Haiti. BE: The Pearl District has the Leon Russell Church Studio, Garden Deva Studio, Centennial Park, the

6th Street Infill Project and other activities to bring people back to the community. How do you feel about this potential for growth and revitalization? JE: Jamie Jameson (Finance, Urban Design and Communications Chair of the Pearl District Association) has done an extraordinary job of planning the direction of the Pearl District. The Pearl District Association is working to have a walkable

Janet and Doug Edwards, owners of The Pearl Gallery, with Winter Flowers, a painting by Doug. Photo by Trabar & Associates.

neighborhood with parks, grocery stores and The Pearl Galley is excited to be a part of that growth. The Pearl Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, visit or call 918-588-1500. n Barbara L. Eikner is owner of Trabar & Associates, author of Dirt and Hardwood Floors, member of Leadership Tulsa and can be reached at Trabar@

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In Dialogue: Art 365 Curator Shannon Fitzgerald by Julia Kirt

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s exhibition Art 365 will open at [ArtSpace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City on March 25, 2011. Five artists each receive a $12,000 honorarium and one year of interaction with curator Shannon Fitzgerald. Visit for more information.

As curator for the Art 365 exhibition, Shannon Fitzgerald has followed closely and conversed regularly with the five commissioned artists for more than a year. She selected their projects from a pool of more than 100 proposals. As a curator, her role shifts depending on the exhibition, from guide to advocate, editor to producer, juror to collaborator. Fitzgerald has curated solo, group and thematic exhibitions that are international, national, regional and local in scope. Besides recent independent curatorial projects in Oklahoma and St. Louis, Fitzgerald was Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis from 2000 until 2007. She was the 2010 Fall Visiting Scholar-InResidence at Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia. She has published many essays on contemporary artists, received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and a MA in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of


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Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She relocated to Oklahoma City in 2009. Julia Kirt: What connections or threads do you see among exhibitions you have curated over the years? Do you have a curatorial oeuvre so to speak? Shannon Fitzgerald: There are threads, but I hope my interests are diverse and evolve. The best art and artists prompt me to acquire new knowledge and discover new things, the world, and our place in it. For me, the reward of working in contemporary art is its pace and expansiveness of ideas and experiences. Most of my work reflects my keen interest in social, cultural, and political discourse and how it informs visual cultural. Many of the ideas I have explored through exhibitions involves visual articulations addressing history, race, diaspora, poverty, gender, inequity, the body, architecture, landscape, and the environment. All of the artists I am engaged with and/or artists that I think

are contributing to the international art world in the most significant ways challenge our understanding of contemporary life. Some of the most inspiring work can be heartbreaking, haunting, devastatingly sad, and uncomfortable, and, as in life, that which moves me can be beautiful, whimsical, fleeting, and funny. JK: What is distinctive about working with local artists? SF: I have always worked with local artists in every community I have lived in. They are essential to the cultural landscape of the art community as contributors, educators, and audiences. However, I have never worked in a ‘regional’ institution, so I feel it is more important to integrate local artists into the main programming and select artists whose work can hold its own. The artists interested in advancement are also interested in the national and international scene and understand the benefit of that exposure and

Curator Shannon Fitzgerald in a studio visit with Art 365 artist Frank Wick.

engagement. Those who are not interested, complain, and struggle in evolving. Contemporary art spaces have a responsibility to local artists, but the best spaces do not cater only to local artists. There is a tendency for local artists to be over exposed and not making enough innovative work to go beyond a local appreciation. It is tough to develop a relevant professional art practice being located in the middle, outside the NY/LA axis. For a city like Oklahoma City, like other cities with a limited market for contemporary art, collaboration and community become critical. Part of the role of the emerging artist, recent graduate, and the hungry curator is to create opportunities, alternative spaces, one-night events, and write about and support each other. When working with both local and global, I hope the artists I work with—and for whom I advocate for— will stand the test of time, enter important private and public collections, and become part of art history.

However, I know that many will not, including many local artists, but being a part of the exercise is still warranted and necessary. I believe art improves lives and can be an agency for change and civic pride, and local artists greatly contribute to that pride. JK: How do you tackle selecting artist for exhibitions? How is that similar or different than selecting work from proposals, like the Art 365 2011 exhibition process? SF: Selecting artists for particular exhibitions varies. Presenting a solo exhibition differs from organizing a survey, retrospective, an artist-in-residence, and certainly unlike preparing a thematic group exhibition. Commissioning new work is significantly different from selecting existing work out of the studio or from collections. This process involves many questions, such as where is the artist in their career? Why this artist at this time? What questions can I ask of an emerging artist with less visibility

than that of a more established artist? What is the best use of resources to present a certain artist? How does one create a supportive platform, meaningful discourse, and context (writing) for an artist that will have a positive impact on their career while also resonating in the community it is presented? Being a juror or selecting artists from a pool is different from selecting artists that you are aware of and want to work with. With the jury process, you hope for an introduction to interesting work that also fits within the parameters of the exhibition—as defined by the presenting organization and/or the exhibition space. Art 365 is a combination of both a curated and juried exhibition. However, unlike the juried exhibition, as the curator, I will work with the artists over the course of one year and relationships will unfold to produce the outcome. continued to pg. 22

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continued from pg. 21 As far as the specific process, I reviewed images from all 103 applicants and then I reviewed proposals and support materials from all. From there, 25 artists that I responded to the most rose to the top, then 15, and finally ten. I conducted studio visits with the final ten, all of which possessed talent and contribute to the local cultural landscape. I selected the final five based on the quality of existing work, the strength of their proposals, and their ability to deliver a compelling, well-made, and timely project. Each of the five artists could be emerging artists in any US city and their work places them in good company nationally. I am structuring the exhibition based on five distinct bodies, thus there is not a thematic proposition nor does it reflect any regional interest. I see our working together as more of a curatorial collaboration. I want the collaboration to remain artist driven. Each artist has a clearly defined vision for what they want to accomplish with this partnership and exhibition; I will work with them on how to best achieve that vision. One thing I remind artists, is that curators come with their own ideas, interests, and tastes. The goal is to strike a balance through a democratic process without compromising expertise and quality. Art 365 is in its second incarnation. OVAC is cognizant of the particular strengths and interests of its curators. My project will differ from what Diane Barber did in the inaugural presentation and its third presentation will differ from what I do. Bringing in diverse professional perspectives to celebrate what is happening locally is important, but it will never please all, nor should it. JK: What happens when you go to a studio for a studio visit? SF: A visit is usually scheduled because an artist has made work or is moving in a new direction or has a body of work to share and talk about. Most studio visits, artwork is out. I usually start by looking. The conversation is


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Artist Frank Wick and Curator Shannon Fitzgerald look over plans for Wick’s project during a studio visit.

kind of quiet and opens up. My first questions are “What are you doing,” “What are you interested in,” ”Why are you making this?” I start with their explanation. That sometimes can be very articulate, clear and open. Other artists are more reserved or their thinking is not resolved. And after that it’s a conversation and I’ll want to literally know what the work is made of and the art making process. Depending on the purpose of the studio visit, if it’s for an exhibition or an introduction, I ask about ambitions. Is the work being produced for a specific purpose or for ongoing inquiry? JK: What have your studio visits for the Art 365 exhibition been like? SF: I knew about what they were thinking before I got there. Because of the parameters of the project, the studio visit is specific to that project. So there is not a lot of discussion of other work or earlier work, it is very proposal oriented. JK: Other than studio visits, what ways are you working with the Art 365 artists? SF: Most involves a conversation back and

forth, ranging from material, technical, and logistic recommendations, to more conceptual and formal discussions, and to practical matters of editing and narrowing focus. Each exchange varied, but over the year, all five of them have grown, are more focused and confident. Not because of me, but because of the support, an ongoing dialogue, and the time and space to work through a body of work. The visibility they are enjoying in the community and the experience of having their peers’ curiosity, and hopefully support contributes to that confidence. More interview questions and biographical information can be found on the Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial blog, Click on Fitzgerald on the right side bar. n

Julia Kirt has been Executive Director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition since 1999 and has been fortunate enough to get to know many discerning, articulate, and passionate guest curators during that time. She can be reached at

At a Glance: Students Curate Thought-provoking Stare Stare Stereo by Susan Grossman

(left) Thomas Payne (U.S., b. 1956) Roller Coaster, 1981, Gelatin silver print, 11” x 13 7/8”, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Norman. (right) John Nesom (U.S., b. 1920), Clergy at Stonehenge, 1967, Gelatin silver print, 9.5” x 13”, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Norman.

When we see an image in relation to another, we can begin to analyze and interpret the photograph from a new perspective. By looking at one, looking at the other, and considering them together, we become active participants in a visual dialogue. A mere 20 photographs comprise the first-ever exhibit exclusively curated by students for the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Two photos paired in each frame means that Stare Stare Stereo is just 10 pieces. But don’t expect to breeze right through this thoughtfully prepared assembly of photos cultivated from the museum’s permanent collection. The core concept is to inspire concentrated looking by viewers. It could take awhile. The name of the exhibit itself comes from two stereographs at the entrance. By pressing the face against the viewer, the image seen appears three dimensional. That is because a stereograph is composed of two images that are slightly different. Similar to these introductory images, the pieces in Stare Stare Stereo are paired together and seemingly merge. The one common denominator is architecture. Each image contains an element of architecture – Shakespeare’s birthplace circa 1892 for example. This architectural component serves as a control to tie the entire exhibit together. Yet this is not an architectural photo exhibit, rather the strategic use of a unifying element to invite the viewer to consider the content of the photo equally with a unifying complex construction.

The yellowish-tinted Man with Tower Ruins taken in 1870 is contrasted with starker black and white Silo from 1970. The crumbled, leaning tower is a few feet higher than the man posed against it, dressed in button shirt, vest and trousers. He casually leans against it, one hand in his pocket. The view of the silo is from the ground looking up, with light peaking through the slats on the roof. Individual photos, yes. Side-by-side, the viewer can begin making comparisons and noting similarities. Both tower-shaped structures are in a state of disrepair. Light and weather comes right through. Roller Coaster, circa 1981, is paired with Clergy at Stonehenge circa 1967. Two seemingly disparate images, certainly. Are they really? With intense and concentrated visual study, shapes and similarities may emerge. Decide for yourself. Stop by to have a look, make that a stare, sometime this spring. Stare Stare Stereo remains on display through May 15. n Susan Grossman is a lifelong journalist and public relations specialist who currently works as a development officer. Her hobby job is freelance writing for a variety of local, regional and national publications covering everything from art and architecture to sports. Reach her at

at a glance


Every Artist Insured by Jim Brown

The recent passage of the Affordable Care Act will do more for the health and well-being of the arts and entertainment communities than any other piece of legislation in more than fifty years. Unlike the vast majority of Americans, who receive their health insurance from employers or government programs, most artists are forced to find coverage for themselves and their families in the individual or direct-pay market. In most states they can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and when it is accessible, it is often either unaffordable or so stripped of benefits as to be minimally useful. For this reason, artists, like other self-employed workers, are twice as likely to be uninsured as members of the general population. This legislation, which everyone who supports the arts should be supporting as well, directly addresses this imbalance. Private insurers will no longer be permitted to deny people coverage or cancel their policies based on their claims history. An essential health benefits package will be available to everyone, with costs shared in order to promote affordability. Variations in premiums based on age will be limited to 3 to 1. State-based exchanges will be created to bring the cost-savings of group insurance to individuals and families. Those of low to moderate means will receive credits and/ or subsidies, mentioned above, to keep their premiums to an affordable percentage of their incomes. Out-of-pocket expenses in any year will be capped at approximately $6,000 for individuals and $12,000 for families, and there will be no annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Since its passage on March 23, the law has already made subsidies available to small businesses to help insure their employees, created special insurance programs for the previously uninsurable, guaranteed coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and lowered the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients with high drug costs. Since its creation in 1998, the Artists Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) of The Actors Fund has had one goal: to


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have every artist in this country insured. With the recent reforms, that goal can now be realized. Toward that end, the Actors Fund initiated its EVERY ARTIST INSURED tour, with funding from Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and the National Endowment for the Arts. It began in Stamford, CT on September 27 and has gone to Kansas City, Minneapolis, Miami, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Nashville, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities. The full schedule of seminars, as well as downloadable health care guides to almost twenty cities and regions, can be found on the AHIRC website at The tour will be coming to Oklahoma City on May 7th as part of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Artist Survival Kit program. The workshop is free to attend and will be held from 2-4 pm at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery, 706 W. Sheridan Ave. in downtown Oklahoma City. Jim Brown, Director of Health Services at The Actors Fund, will explain how health care reform offers new and affordable options for coverage, particularly for those who must purchase their own insurance. In addition, Jim will present current options for getting and keeping health insurance and finding affordable health care in Oklahoma. To register, visit or call 405-879-2400. n Jim Brown has worked in the performing arts, in social services, and in the insurance industry. He taught in the Drama Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for thirteen years; was a public information officer for disaster relief in the United States and overseas for the American Red Cross; negotiated provider contracts for Aetna Health Plans, Beech Street Corporation, and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, and served as a managed care regulator for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. He is currently the Director of Health Services at The Actors Fund where he oversees the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and runs the Artists Health Insurance Resource Center website (

The “Every Artist Insured” tour will be coming to Oklahoma City on May 7th as part of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Artist Survival Kit program. The workshop is free to attend and will be held from 2-4 pm at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery.

1218 N Western Oklahoma City 405.831.2874










Organic Observations Blue Skies Open through March 20 4th Floor Gallery, UCO’s Nigh University Center Featuring work by Christie Hackler and Lynette Atchley

For more information visit: or call 405-974-2432

April 7-May 15


4th Floor Gallery, UCO’s Nigh University Center Featuring the work of instructors and former graduates including Bob Palmer, Larry Hefner, Terry Clark, Rob Smith, Zina Gelona, Cletus Smith, Mary Hines, Clint Stone, Denise Wynia-Weidel, Deborah Luber-Myers


Dawdle Do, Dawdle Da. by Sue Clancy

Dipping a brush into our soul is the risky, difficult, but true work of artists. Our job is to open our veins, mine our thoughts and excavate our hearts – and smear it all on canvas. Fortunately, we can procrastinate and yet be esteemed as productive. We can hold off the nitty-gritty soul-searching and goof around, merely by putting papers inside manila folders and placing the files in filing cabinets. No one shouts “slacker!” If anything, the moniker “organized artist” may be applied as high praise. In any other type of job such procrastination-with-praise isn’t possible. When accountants, lawyers or doctors fiddle with files they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing; they’re not goofing off at all, they’re not doing anything praiseworthy, they’re expected to keep files neat and orderly. Accountants, lawyers and doctors have to go all the way to a golf course in order to mess around. Not the artist! An artist can avoid her/his real business simply by sitting at the computer writing a press release, creating a promo material or penning an essay. Dally like this often enough and everyone will marvel at your marketing skills. I’d like to see public relations officers, advertising executives or journalists try it. Ha! Artists can postpone creative efforts by researching galleries, putting together submissions packets and taking them to the post office. Such poking about frequently results in compliments on your painstaking persistence. A librarian, a chamber of commerce or a tourism board would be envious of such output. They wouldn’t dream it was all a big shilly-shally. Yes, we artists have the procrastination game all sewn up. I should be ashamed of writing this and spilling the beans. It’s not nice to cause envy among the less-able-to-dawdle crowd. But I’m not ashamed at all; in writing this I’ve successfully delayed my real work by at least 15 minutes. Now, to the artmines! Or maybe I’ll do my taxes first. n

Sue Clancy is a full-time professional artist whose artwork can be seen internationally – and locally at Joseph Gierek Fine Art gallery in Tulsa, OK ( or at Downtown Art & Frame in Norman, OK.


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“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – H.W. Beecher



For more information go to

National Juried Show



h t 8 1 h c r a M , ty i C y a a m o h D a l i k O , n Fr a d i r e h S , 706 W. g


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sponsored in part by:

On Display March 18th-April 9th.


Honoring OVAC Volunteers by Sarah McElroy

Every year as an organization the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition tries to express how thankful we are for the committed volunteers who donate their time to further the exposure and understanding of the arts in our state. This year, during the National Volunteer Month of April, we would like to highlight a group of people who have consistently volunteered bi-monthly to help distribute Art Focus Oklahoma. Have you ever wondered how the magazine reaches such diverse venues around the state? Thanks to a handful of generous community members we are able to keep our costs down by not outsourcing our bulk distribution. This process has many parts and needs many helping hands. Once the magazine arrives at the OVAC office an email is sent to this set of special volunteers. The first task of getting the printed material out to the community consists of counting, bundling, taping and labeling packages filled with several copies of the magazine that are mailed all over the state outside of the immediate OKC metro area. There are about 50 packages compiled that take approximately six to eight hours to complete. I want to express a special thanks to Christopher Gozalez (November 2010 Volunteer of the Month) who over the past six months has been our packaging super star. The sites that receive these packages include libraries, galleries, educational facilities and other places with a like-minded audience. Secondly, the magazines are distributed around central Oklahoma. Metro volunteers such as Kathryn Kirt, Emily Lewis, Kathleen Butner, Brooke Rowlands and Jerry Bennett deliver to a variety of districts and cities such as downtown OKC, Midtown and Norman. These volunteers arrive at our office, load up their vehicles, get a list of 10-20 venues, count out the allotted number of magazines per site and deliver by way of their own mileage and time. We are truly appreciative of this group along with all of the many other wonderful volunteers that work behind the scenes to help further the OVAC mission to support visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promote public interest and understanding of the arts.

Please contact Sarah McElroy at 405-879-2400 or for current projects and for more information about volunteering. n Sarah McElroy is Volunteer & Office Coordinator for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

(top to bottom) Brooke Rowlands, Kathleen Butner and Kathryn Kirt.


ovac news

OVAC Round Up This fall, OVAC will partner with the Oklahoma Arts Council to create a visual artist track for their Statewide Arts Conference. The sessions will feature national artist business consultant Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizCoach as well as other excellent presenters. The conference will be October 26 and 27, 2011 in Tulsa. Please save the date and watch for more information released soon. Are you willing to get gonged for your art? The Photo Slam is back. OVAC is partnering with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for the fun, casual venue for Oklahoma photographers to share what they do. Twelve selected photographers will get 5 minutes each to speak about their work along with slides, samples, digital images or other tools. The public event will be May 19, 2011 at 7 pm in the Noble Theater at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Photo Slam is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Amy


Blakemore: Photographs 1988-2008, on display March 17-June 19, 2011. Photographers can apply to participate until March 15. See the Special Events section of our website or call for more info.

Upcoming Artist Survival Kit Workshops:

OVAC was saddened to say goodbye to several friends and colleagues over the past few months. Norman artists DJ Lafon and Dixie Erickson passed away in January. Lafon was a long-time professor at East Central University who exhibited nationwide and mentored many. Erickson served as an artist-in-residence and community leader throughout her career.

April 2: The Artist’s Guide to World Domination: Marketing and Selling Online, OKC

March 19: Paint by Numbers: Tax Tips for Artists, Stillwater

May 7: Every Artist Insured, OKC See or call 405-879-2400 to register or for more information. n

Past OVAC Board member Richard Person passed away in December. A vocal advocate of giving more money to artists’ projects, Pearson served on the Grants Committee for five years and supported many of OVAC’s projects.

Thank you to our New and Renewing Members from November and December 2010 Nicole Adkisson Bryan Appleby Andy and Marilyn Artus Amber Bailey Kimberly Baker Carol Beesley Joy Reed Belt Traci Bentley Larry Bierman Julie Bohannon Deborah Brackenbury John Brandenburg and Janet Massad Alva Brockus Shana Brown Stephanie and Craig Brudzinski Sarah Clough Chambers Dian Church Angela Church Randy Clay

W. Maurice Clyma JR Cooke Audrey Schmitz and Ken Crowder Dorothy Danen Tabitha Deskin Elizabeth Downing Bunky Echo-Hawk Debra Engel Tom and Jean Ann Fausser Ron Fleming Becky Foust Elisha Gallegos Dan Garrett Diane Glenn Steven Golsen Douglas Gordon Almira Grammer Julie Greenwood Mary Lou Gresham Barbara Hair

Lou Moore Hale Kirkland and Julia Hall Nancy Hamill Aaron Hauck Bob and Janet Hawks Ana Heaton Laura Anne Heller Marla Hice James J. Huelsman Amy Hundley Todd Jenkins Ellen Jonsson William and Janie Morris Nicholas Kyle and Rose Allison Judy Laine Sharyl Landis Jean Langford Jan Maddox Janet Massad Janice Mathews-Gordon

Janice McCormick and Ed Main Marie Miller Jacque Mitchener Diane Moershel Sharon J. Montgomery Wendy Mutz Hunter Nesbitt Romney Oualline Nesbitt Bob E. Palmer Beth Parker Soni Parsons David and Patty Phelps Ryan Ringle Dana Robertson Liz Rodda Ann Saxton Rob Smith Lisa Sorrell Cheryl Swanson Cindy Swanson

Lacye Swilley-Russell Suzanne C. Thomas Skip Thompson Joyce Ulstrup Becky and Michael Way Tom Wester Janie Wester Frank Wick Mary Witt Mark Wittig Christa Woods Joanne Woodward Dean and Kelly Wyatt Mickel Yantz Marina Yereshenko Philbrook Museum of Art, Tom Young Bj Zorn

ovac news


Gallery Listings & Exhibition Schedule



El Reno

Eric Humphries: Tulsa Riot Through March 8 56th Annual Faculty Art Show March 20- April 8 56th Annual Student Show April 8- 27 The Pogue Gallery Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center 900 Centennial Plaza (580) 559-5353

Bruce Goff, “A Creative Mind” Through May 1 Price Tower Arts Center 510 Dewey Ave. (918) 336-4949

Gordon Parks Photography Competition Finalist Exhibition Through March 4 Recognition of Hometown Talents; Art of El Reno Artists March 14- April 8 Redlands Community College (405) 262-2552


42nd Annual Juried Exhibition March 1- March 26 Reception March 26, 2 pm Southern Oklahoma All Schools Exhibit. Middle and High School Artists April 5- April 16, Reception April 5, 4:307:00 The Goddard Center 401 First Avenue SW (580) 226-0909

Chickasha Innovations High School Art Show Through March 11 Montmarte Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival April 7 University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma GalleryDavis Hall 1806 17th Street (405) 574-1344

Guthrie Langston University Former Professors: A Retrospective Reception March 13, 3:00 Owens Arts Place Museum 1202 E. Harrison (405) 260-0204



Student Art Show March 24-April 14 Reception, March 24 Senior Capstone April 21-May 7 Art on the Hill April 29-30 Rogers State University (918) 343-7740

Jeff Dixon, Andrew Young, Stephen Miller, George Oswalt March 5- April 29 Reception March 5, 7-9 The Leslie Powell Foundation and Gallery 620 D Avenue (580) 357-9526

Norman Corazon Watkins and Carolyn Faseler March 11- April 18 Reception March 11, 6-9 Firehouse Art Center 444 South Flood (405) 329-4523 Mediterranea: American Art from the Graham D. Williford Collection March 5- May 15 Reception March 4, 7-9 Tea & Immortality: Contemporary Chinese Yixing Teapots from the James T. Bialac Collection April 2- May 15 Reception April 1, 7-9

Stare Stare Stereo Through May 15 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 555 Elm Ave. (405) 325-4938 C. J. Bradford March Heidi James April Performing Arts Studio 200 S. Jones (405) 307-9320

Oklahoma City

Sarah McElroy April 1-29 Reception April 1, 6-10 aka gallery 3001 Paseo (405) 606-2522 The Print Through March 12 Art 365 March 25- May 7 Reception, March 25 5-8 Catalog Release, May 6, 5-8 [ArtSpace] at Untitled 1 NE 3rd St. (405) 815-9995 Maggie Casey March 1- May 14 Harry Shearer: The Silent Echo Chamber March 1- May 14 City Arts Center 3000 General Pershing Blvd. (405) 951-0000 Virginia Johnson: La Belle Aude March 4- 30 Contemporary Art Gallery 2829 Paseo (405) 848-8883

George Peter Alexander Healy, Arch of Titus, 1871, Oil on canvas, 40.5” x 29.5” at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman March 5-May 15.


gallery guide

Dustin Oswald March 11 Kris Kanaly and Tom Woodward April 8 DNA Galleries 1705 B NW 16th (405) 371-2460 Jim Keffer March 4-26 Reception March 4, 6-10 Thomas Batista and Holly Wilson April 1- 30 Reception April 1, 6-10 JRB Art at the Elms 2810 North Walker (405) 528-6336 Greg Burns: Visions of Reality Through March 14 Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum 1400 Classen Dr. (405) 235-4458 Oklahoma Friendly 2011 March 18- April 9 Individual Artists of Oklahoma 706 W Sheridan (405) 232-6060 American Indian Printmakers Through May 8 Artist Illustrators from the Permanent Collection Through May 15 Allen’s True West Through May 15 The Bowie Knife: Icon of American Character April 1- November 20 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd (405) 478-2250

Don Narcomey Through March 6 Oklahoma State Capitol Galleries 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd (405) 521-2931 Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988-2008 March 17- June 19 New Frontiers: Jill Downen: Counterparts Through May 8 George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher Through May 8 Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch Drive (405) 236-3100

Ponca City Annual Membership Exhibit Through March 6 Student Exhibition: Elementary and Middle Schools March 13- April 10 Student Exhibit: High School April 17- May 22

Ponca City Art Center 819 East Central (580) 765-9746

Shawnee Passed to the Present: Prehistoric Case Grande and Contemporary Mata Ortiz Pottery Traditions Through April 3 Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art 1900 West Macarthur (405) 878-5300

Stillwater Jenny Rogers: Perfect Surf Through March 4 BFA Studio Capstone March 9-25 Reception & Gallery Talk March 10, 5-7 Graphic Design Portfolio Exhibition March 30- April 8 Reception April 3 Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition

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.

April 13-29 Reception & Awards April 17, 2-4 Gardiner Art Gallery Oklahoma State University 108 Bartlett University (405) 744-6016

Tulsa A Treasure of American Prints Through March 13 Gilcrease Museum 1400 Gilcrease Road (918) 596-2700 New Genre XVIII Through March 12 Shift: & TU Grad Students April 1- 21 Living Artspace 307 E. Brady (918) 585-1234

Robert L. Caldwell March 2-31 Live Painting Demo with Robert Caldwell March 5, 10-5 Todd Ford April 2-30 Live Painting Demo with Todd Ford April 2, 10-5 Lovetts Gallery 6528 E 51st St (918) 664-4732 Shades of the Southwest: Etchings by Gene Kloss Through April 3 American Streamline Design: The World of Tomorrow Through May 15 The Philbrook Museum of Art 2727 South Rockford Road (918) 749-7941

V-Man: Installation by James and Yiren Gallagher March 4-26 Inversion: Mixed Media by Kristen Gentry and Michelle Himes-McCrory April 1-30 Tulsa Artists Coalition Gallery 9 East Brady (918) 592-0041 The Figure: A Survey of Fifteen Figurative Painters March 3-31 Reception March 3, 5-7 43rd Annual Gussman Juried Student Exhibition April 7-21 Reception & Awards April 7, 5-7 Senior Exhibition April 28- May 5 Reception April 28, 5-7 Alexandre Hogue Gallery Phillips Hall, The University of Tulsa 2930 E. 5th St. (918) 631-2739 GET INVOLVED

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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 membership to the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

730 W. Wilshire Blvd, Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116

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

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma and promotes public interest in the arts. Visit to learn more. Upcoming Events: Mar 4-5: Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still Mar 15: Photo Slam Submission Deadline Mar 25: Art 365 Exhibit Opening Apr 9-10: Tulsa Art Studio Tour

March Jim Keffer Opening Reception: FRIDAY, MARCH 4 6 - 10 P.M.

April Thomas Batista Holly Wilson Opening Reception: FRIDAY, APRIL 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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