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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 . 3

Photo Recall:

Eyakem Gulilat page 4

May/June 2011

Art OFocus k l a h o m a

Drawing by Emma Ann Robertson.

from the editor In this issue of Art Focus Oklahoma, we feature the work of several artists who are strengthening the community of artists in Oklahoma by sharing their passion for what they do. On page 6, guest writer Ken Logsdon remembers D.J. Lafon, an artist who spent significant time in his life as a teacher and mentor for young artists. Not only was he Chair of the Art Department at East Central University in Ada, but teaching was a natural part of his personality. In the article, you’ll find examples of his keen ability to teach anyone, sometimes without them even knowing it.

After growing up in Okene, Nigeria, artist Yusuf Etudaiye (pg. 10) eventually landed in McAlester, OK. Now with a thriving pottery studio in the small town, Etudaiye shares his knowledge through workshops and classes. The artist says his life goal is to be a positive influence on everyone he meets, and he does this by sharing his creative passion. This issue’s “On the Map” feature (pg. 20) takes us to Tulsa. It’s a very specific place in Tulsa, actually. Artist Gail Booth has invested years of time and energy into creating her perfect artistic oasis in her own backyard. She has built a garden that is ideal for painting en plein air and loves to share it with other artists. She has combined her loves of painting and gardening to create a space to benefit many artists. Incredible things can happen when artists come together to share ideas and abilities. Whether the focus is collaboration, education or community, the creative potential increases through these efforts. I hope that the stories within this issue will remind you of those who have inspired you by sharing their artistic passion.

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition 730 W. Wilshire Blvd., Suite 104 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 ph: 405.879.2400 • e: visit our website at: Executive Director: Julia Kirt Editor: Kelsey Karper Art Director: Anne Richardson Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into and providing current information about the visual arts in Oklahoma. Mission: Supporting Oklahoma’s visual arts and artists and their power to enrich communities. OVAC welcomes article submissions related to artists and art in Oklahoma. Call or email the editor for guidelines. OVAC welcomes your comments. Letters addressed to Art Focus Oklahoma are considered for publication unless otherwise specified. Mail or email comments to the editor at the address above. Letters may be edited for clarity or space reasons. Anonymous letters will not be published. Please include a phone number. 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

Eyakem Gulilat, Norman, Abiye Ketema, Catonsville, Maryland, Archival inkjet print, 20” x 20”. See page 4.



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Photo Recall: Eyakem Gulilat



Working in photography, video performance and multimedia installation, Norman-based artist Eyakem Gulilat explores the formal properties of photography, the politics of identity, and his own personal history.

D.J. Lafon, 1929-2011

A long time friend and collector remembers the Norman artist and the impression he left on the viewers of his work, as well as the people who knew him.

8 When We Get There We Will Find Out: The Art of Yusef Etudaiye

By way of Okene, Nigeria and Stillwater, Oklahoma, Yusef Etudaiye is an artist living in McAlester making and teaching pottery for his community.

p re v i e w s 10 Changing Perceptions: Maggie Casey at City Arts Center


An exhibition in Oklahoma City welcomes Oregon-based artist Maggie Casey, who stretches her ideas through space and creates art that fills the capacity of the gallery.

12 Weaving a Common Thread: FiberWorks Spotlights Contemporary and Traditional Fiber Arts Making its Tulsa debut, the FiberWorks exhibition continues a tradition of showcasing innovative fiber arts.

14 Intimate Strangers: Amy Blakemore at OKCMOA

An exhibition of Tulsa native Amy Blakemore’s photography offers surprising and often highly personal perspectives.

16 Apocalyptic Improv: The Work of Chris Mantle

With an improvisational creative process, Tulsa artist Chris Mantle seeks to restore a sense of classical beauty in today’s modern culture.

18 When Buds and Blossoms Grow


In an exhibition at the Oklahoma State Capitol, artist Elia Woods shows her passion for the preservation of the environment.

f e a t u re s 20 On the Map: An Artists Garden Revealed

With years of work, Tulsa artist Gail Booth has created an artistic oasis in her own backyard.

a t a g l a n c e 22 Go Figure

A recent exhibition at the University of Tulsa revealed contemporary artists exploring a traditional subject matter – the human figure.

business of art


24 Ask a Creativity Coach

Romney Nesbitt offers artists tips for evaluating the merit of your work when you’re feeling discouraged.




Gallery Guide (p. 6) D.J. Lafon, Norman, Tap Dancing Politician, Acrylic on canvas, 33” x 42” (p. 14) Amy Blakemore, Houston, TX, Jill in Woods, Chromogenic photograph, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston. (p. 20) Gail Booth’s artist garden features a variety of plant life, perfect for painting outdoors. (p. 22) Jeremy Long, Colleen Folding Laundry, Oil on canvas, 16” x 20”


Photo Recall: Eyakem Gulilat by Tiffany Barber

Eyakem Gulilat, Norman, Grandfather’s Morning Prayer, Archival inkjet print, 16” x 20”

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1838, one of the first devices that fueled the development of chemical photography, revolutionized image-making processes and profoundly impacted global visual culture. The Industrial Revolution, an emerging middle class, and the demand for an alternative to portraiture painting amplified the daguerreotype’s popularity. Since portraiture painting was historically relegated to aristocratic and elite classes, photography democratized the process of documenting and reproducing images. Norman-based artist Eyakem Gulilat’s work is firmly rooted in this history. Gulilat views his work as


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primarily documentary and he often works in portraiture and landscape photography to capture instances of the everyday in the contemporary moment. Gulilat’s photographs, video performances, and multimedia installations explore the formal properties of photography, the politics of identity, and the artist’s personal history and memory. As a youth in Ethiopia, his parents converted to Evangelical Christianity, effectively placing Gulilat and his siblings in the religious minority. Additionally, as the artist describes, his parents distanced the family from traditional tribal practices and

other cultural identifiers early on, further complicating Gulilat’s own associations with Ethiopian identity. In 1994, Gulilat discovered the transformative power of image and image making when photojournalist Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning representation of poverty and famine in the Sudan became, in the artist’s words, “the iconic image of African anguish.” For Gulilat, this image produced a particular narrative that essentialized African experiences on the continent and as an African, as an Ethiopian, Gulilat notes that he became a product of this image. These experiences comprise the complex landscape of Gulilat’s work in

which the artist questions the sociocultural impact and production of visual culture and communication. Gulilat’s first photographic series focused on the historic town of Boley, Oklahoma. Boley, with its relationship to local Black history and the town’s obscure population of Mennonites, served as a point of identification for the artist. In this series, Gulilat focused on candid shots of his subjects. The Boley series launched the artist’s conceptual interests in the power of place and personal and cultural memory. Gulilat continued this conceptual line in his second body of work, My Ethiopian-American Self-Portrait, an ongoing ethnographic study of expressions of identity in the United States’ Ethiopian Diaspora. My Ethiopian-American Self-Portrait investigates Western and American influences, mainstream archetypes of blackness and black masculinity, and shattered landscapes. One image from this series, Abiye Ketema, Catonsville, Maryland 2010, features a young Ethiopian-American male. Standing proudly draped in a variation of the Ethiopian flag, the young man’s posture recalls painter Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of

contemporary urban Black men in heroic poses. The young man wears a baseball cap with a logo in Ethiopian script that broadcasts his tribe, his heritage, his identity. As the title suggests, the artist captures his own expressions of identity by inserting himself into the work with self-portraits. Gulilat extends these ideas and makes his conceptual concerns more complex in two of his latest photographic series, Memories and Collaborative Self-Portraiture. Memories returns Gulilat to his basic fascinations with personal identity and memory – each of the photographs in this series features the artist as subject – and introduces a new mechanism through which Gulilat explores the recesses of his own psyche – reenactment. Donned in traditional Ethiopian dress, the artist as subject reenacts his childhood memories of tribal superstitions, gendered labor, historical milestones, and his grandfather’s daily spiritual practice. Memories also marks the artist’s first video work, Nazareth at Woodstock 2010. Nazareth is a two-channel installation in which Gulilat performs as his grandfather, intently reading the Bible in a heavily-wooded scene juxtaposed with footage of an Orthodox Christian priest

chanting and preparing for church service. Gulilat continues playing with opposing ideologies and landscapes with Collaborative Self-Portraiture, further exploring identity, place, properties of the photograph (all of the works in the series are triptychs), and the psychology of interstitial spaces. With Memories and Collaborative Self-Portraiture, Gulilat’s snapshot aesthetic and flaneuristic approach enlists the camera as an accomplice in his experiments with identity. In both series, Gulilat highlights the political complexities of globalization, using Ethiopian clothing as a sort of costuming wherein he and his subjects are simultaneously exporting culture and trespassing across imaginative and imaginary boundaries. It is clear that Gulilat is specifically interested in publics and cultures on the margins. His camera serves as a passport into the communities and subjects that he photographs. Though not as lavishly theatrical as Eleanor Antin’s performative documentations of her many selves, as sly as Nikki S. Lee’s subcultural infiltrations, or as tactile as Kori Newkirk’s and Mark Bradford’s culturally mnemonic investigations, Gulilat’s work is situated within a generation of contemporary artists who examine the sociology of identity by turning the camera lens on themselves. In a culture saturated with media, do-it-yourself devices, and the isolated spaces between one’s headphones, Gulilat’s photographic works and process open a small window into the accelerated flows of global culture. Eyakem Gulilat was born in Ethiopia, raised in Kenya, and considers Austin his first stateside home. He received his MFA in Media Art and Photography from the University of Oklahoma. He lives and works in Norman, Oklahoma. n 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. Eyakem Gulilat, Norman, Memories of my Father, Archival inkjet print, 16” x 20”

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D.J. Lafon, 1929-2011 by Ken Logsdon

When Tom Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Young said Waits was indescribable, and “I’m here to describe him.” Ditto for me writing about noted Oklahoma artist D.J. Lafon who died on January 18th, 2011. At the celebration of Lafon’s life at the Oklahoma History Center on March 11th, two themes were prevalent: Lafon was uniquely creative in a broad spectrum way (both by subject and medium) and he didn’t spend much time explaining his creations. A few years ago Lafon said to me “I figured if Picasso could do it all, so could I.” And so he did. He was always, and without limits, creating. He had facility with multiple mediums and his artistically cluttered studio bore this out. Many years ago I was looking for a gallery for him in Denver. One owner, upon seeing what I had brought in, remarked in awe, “The same artist did all of these?” Recently, I ran across this phrase about a designer: “And he has done it, because there is no one thing that he has not done.” That was Lafon - oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pencil, pastel, clay, wood, metal, computer…all utilized to convey a wide array of subjects and interests. Fittingly, he remarked that “materials were immaterial” to the art. “Make art out of anything you can.” I considered facetiously titling this article The Tie in the Works of D. J. Lafon. Off and on I had discussions with him about whether a man’s tie in a particular piece was a snake in disguise. No confirmation was forthcoming. Years later, in another work, there was a tie with a snake’s head as the knot. One may have had nothing to do with the other, as the 8-ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.” He had inscrutable titles: Something About A Rooster and Watching the Kite Tails Ascend into Heaven and seemingly straightforward, but vague, ones like Standing Man. The thing is, with Lafon’s works the answer may remain hazy. I’ve owned Something about a Rooster for many years and part of it remains a mystery to me. Lafon’s belief: “I have failed if I can’t make you ... feel something by visual means alone.” I once asked a theatre director about his (missing) director notes for a playbill. He replied, “My notes are on the stage.” Lafon’s were on the canvas. Or as British artist Ruth Franklin puts it, “Art’s more interesting if you look at it.” I became a buyer of Lafon’s work in my very early twenties. I was first attracted to his work for less than noble artistic reasons. I just wanted something on my walls to differentiate me from everyone else, and what better way than Lafon’s art to do just that. It was sui generis. His refusal to explain it made it even better. Over the next 40 or so years there were many visits to his studio. What stays with me are not specific visits, first in Ada continued to page 8

(above) D.J. Lafon, Norman (right) D.J. Lafon, Norman, Striped Tie, Acrylic on canvas, 32” x 24” (left) D.J. Lafon, Norman, Tap Dancing Politician, Acrylic on canvas, 33” x 42”

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continued from page 7

when he was Chair of the Art Department at East Central University, and then in Norman after his early retirement, but the many visits over many years. I remember being intimidated at first, but Lafon was a gentle soul. While his canvases sometimes reach out and take you by the throat, in person he was low-key and soft-spoken (I often had to strain to hear him) with a keen intellect. Many of his works were quiet in their own way, though dynamic. One only has to see the lyrical watercolor Spring Tulips, and my favorite, Kansas Woman, among many, to see and know that. Over the years and over those many visits our relationship changed from artist and buyer to friends - and buyer. I recently ran across a photo of Lafon sitting on a sofa with my then 5 year old daughter Kate drawing for her, more likely giving her tips. He was always a teacher – overtly or covertly. His influence as a teacher was remarkable, as many of his students testify. The photo was taken at a gathering celebrating a book on which Kate, Lafon, Dortha Killian (Lafon’s wife) and I collaborated. During that process he let Kate know what he needed in the way of illustrations and then she went to work. This former professor’s notes to her were geared to a 5 year old, not a college student and because of his quiet, gentle nature she was never intimidated. Lafon generously shared his wit and genius, on and off the canvas. He was not only an artist but a reader and lover of literature and music. His art and conversation reflected this. He was an artist’s artist, a renaissance man. Schopenhauer wrote, “The artist lets us peer into the world through his eyes.” This was Lafon’s gift to us – and what eyes they were! He will not be forgotten. We’ll spend the days puzzling out his message, because great art always keeps to itself a bit of its mystery. Something About A Rooster indeed. An exhibition of D.J. Lafon’s work is on exhibit through May 8 at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. His work is held in the State Art Collection and represented by JRB Art at The Elms in Oklahoma City. n


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D.J. Lafon, Norman, Messenger, Acrylic on canvas, 26” x 26”

Ken Logsdon, a native of Ada, is a longtime friend and collector of D.J. Lafon. He lives in Columbia, Missouri where he is the designer and owner of Post-a-Quote, a literary greeting card company.

1218 N Western Oklahoma City 405.831.2874










Alive Alive “Flight” by Christopher Domanski

“Shakespeare” by Gary Lee Price

Where Public Art Comes

“Breath” by David Thummel

For more information, contact Susan Parks at (405) 974-3774 9

When We Get There We Will Find Out: The Art of Yusuf Etudaiye by Barbara L. Eikner

Yusuf Etudaiye in his McAlester studio.

In the land of Okene, Nigeria near the river Niger, a farmer and his friends are on their way to the communal farmlands. The question is asked of the farmer, “What will the farm look like today?” He replies in his native tongue of Ebira, “Etudaiye” which means patience, when we get there we will find out. For generations after that his family name is accepted and his grandson becomes an Oklahoma artist, Yusuf Etudaiye. Etudaiye has been drawn to art and painting since he was a young boy in the village of Okene, Nigeria. He was influenced by his Uncle Idris, the baby brother of his father and an excellent artist. Etudaiye would sit down to watch him paint and became a prodigy at his feet. His Uncle Idris had to give up painting to work and his talent went dormant. He tells Etudaiye that he is unable to draw an egg now. His


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Uncle Idris is currently a principal of a school in Nigeria. Etudaiye’s father supported and encouraged his artistic talent. His father asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, for in Africa it does not matter what you want to be as long as you do it well. Etudaiye wanted to be a painter. His father bought him paint or whatever art supplies he needed. When he was in high school he was a campus artist. This gave him the tasks of painting billboards, signs, logos, graphic designs for buses, classrooms and other needs of the school. There was no compensation for the work. “In Africa,” said Etudaiye, “when an adult asks you to do something, you do not look for an immediate award or payment. You know that the award will come sometime in the future even if it is ten years or more down the road.” He received a certificate upon graduation and this aided in

getting a college scholarship.

Painting was his strongest point at OSU and he did not pick up pottery until his senior year. He discovered that he could make some money with pottery and gives the credit to Rebecca Livingston, a classmate from Arkansas for moving him in that direction. The first piece he sold was entitled Bondage, and it was based on many life experiences he had seen while growing up in Africa. His father would always tell him that “art was difficult” but he didn’t understand what he meant until he made the decision to make a living from it. Etudaiye was exhibiting at a show in McAlester, Oklahoma in 1993 and his works made an impression on the president of the Arts & Humanities Council there. The show was a success. He was convinced to move to McAlester and opened his first art studio. Life was going well until a tragedy in 2002 struck. His studio was totally consumed by fire. He lost his entire inventory, equipment, supplies, wheels, kilns, and tools and he had no insurance. He credits the Grace of God and the love of the community that came together to raise funds to resurrect a new studio. His angel gave him a place and his studio now serves the people of Oklahoma and surrounding regions.

photos by Trabar & Associates

During the time of national economic prosperity and growth, the Nigerian government provided scholarships for promising students to colleges and universities around the world. His father had been to America and was impressed with its educational system. Oklahoma State University’s tuition accommodated the scholarship amount he received and so Etudaiye came to Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Etudaiye believes that art is more than selling pottery but also teaching and educating the craft to the public. He holds classes and workshops in his studio and at various community centers, including the Center for Physically Limited, McAlester School System, and Woodwork Oklahoma. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 1 pm to 3 pm and Thursdays from 7 pm to 9 pm. Students learn everything from throwing clay to firing. His life message is to be a positive influence with the people he meets. Etudaiye states that many people look at appearances but he believes it is what is inside a person that is important. Their heart matters. Etudaiye has matured into a patient and creative potter. His work reflects his African culture both historically and spiritually and his new home in America. As his ancestors would say, when we get there we will find out. You can see more of the works of Yusuf Etudaiye on his website:, or at the studio. Etudaiye Pottery Studio is located at 218 West Carl Albert Parkway, McAlester, Oklahoma. Yusuf Etudaiye will be at the Arts for All in Lawton, Oklahoma May 13-15, 2011 and Blue Dome Festival in Tulsa May 20-22, 2011. n Barbara L. Eikner is a regular contributor to Art Focus Oklahoma, owner of Trabar & Associates, author of Dirt and Hardwood Floors, member of OVAC, TAC, Community Artist Collective and other arts organizations. She can be reached at

(top) Yusuf Etudaiye, McAlester, The Fire Within, Stoneware clay, 16” and 96 degrees (Water fountain) (bottom) Yusuf Etudaiye with one of his works.

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Changing Perceptions: Maggie Casey at City Arts Center by Sasha Spielman

Maggie Casey, Portland, OR, Gold Tooth (detail), Joint compound, screen, paint, wire, mesh, string, 18’ x 2’ x 12’

A vibrant new artist, Maggie Casey, presents her first solo exhibition at City Arts Center in Oklahoma City. Casey, a Pennsylvania native, debuts Bearing the Echo of Proving Ground, an exhibition consisting of three separate parts in material and visualization yet beautifully orchestrated to present a flawless coherency. “Bearing the Echo of Proving Ground is a reflection on distance and process through the formats of sculpture, media and installation,” said Casey. “It is my first opportunity to create such a volume of work.” The exhibition tells the story of movement, where every detail is unique and subject to change. Such is the case with Casey’s pixilated canvas Range. The canvas offers a change in focus depending on the viewers’ distance.


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“As one moves through the space the image blurs in and out of focus, with the intention to acknowledge that any point of understanding is fixed, unique and possible to change,” Casey says. The young artist received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fiber at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2005. Shortly after, her tapestry series Model was shown at the F.E.U.L Gallery and was recognized by the American Craft Council. In her current exhibition at City Arts Center, Casey included Goldtooth, a tapestry sculpture laid into a wall, using textile references and modern materials. From an early age, Casey was interested in pattern making and sewing which later led her to tapestry. “Instead of sewing clothes, I incorporate string patterns that can fill up an

entire empty space,” said Casey. “I just follow the material when I work.” Goldtooth appears as a gridded topology mimicking the same results as the back of a repaired wall. Casey uses string and wire that extend from the wall. The final result is an image that hangs in various dimensions from the wall. The scale of Casey’s artwork needed open space and that’s exactly what City Arts Center offered. The gallery floor plan is one of its best assets, which gave Casey enough room to recreate her complex and elaborate showcase. Marry Ann Prior, director of City Arts Center said when the center committee previewed Casey’s portfolio a unanimous decision was reached. “The exploration aspect of Maggie’s working

process sets her apart,” said Prior. “I see her now as part scientist, part artist who is developing into a true alchemist.” Casey certainly delves into alchemy in the third part of her exhibition, Sculptures, made of hardening materials such as plaster or wax. However, Casey says anything that can be melted has the potential of becoming a Sculpture, or at least be a part of one. She experiments with different materials, and some more manipulated than others, the end results are rock formations in vibrant colors reminiscent of corals or mountain rocks. The limit is only her imagination. “I like the idea of nature versus handmade,” said Casey. “The materials I work with surprise me because I can’t control them.” Casey said she often listens to the material, if it asks a question, or tells her a story she keeps it and adds to it. “The process of making Sculptures depends on both chance and rigid fabrication. However, the development of each sculpture is based on a generational process of development and editing.” At age 27, Casey is one of the youngest artists to ever exhibit at City Arts Center. According to Prior, Casey was chosen for her ability to successfully bridge the divide between art and craft to create unique pieces that question the viewer’s visual prospective. “Maggie is an immensely thoughtful artist who carefully researches the nature and reactions of a wide variety of materials,” said Prior. “Where I see her sensitivity is at the point where she relinquishes control over her chosen medium and lets it resolve itself.” Certainly, Casey has proven she can successfully cross over art mediums and present interesting pieces. A proof of that is her involvement with Appendix Project Space, a collaborative project between various artists who work on separate exhibitions, but critique each other’s work. “It taught me to look at my work with a different set of eyes and also allowed me to experiment with other materials,” said Casey. “Sculptures is a product of my two year involvement with Appendix Project Space.” Most recently, Casey visited Seoul, South Korea, where she took part in a symposium titled Materiality + Meaning, a conversation regarding contemporary fiber. Casey plans to continue incorporating fiber in her work as she moves forward in her experimentation with new media and sculpture. “I am so glad to have visited Oklahoma City,” said Casey. “The people are so welcoming and I look forward to working again with this great community.” Bearing the Echo of Prove Ground can be seen at the City Arts Center through May 14, 2011.

(top) Maggie Casey, Portland, OR, Untitled, Fiber and plaster (bottom) Maggie Casey, Portland, OR, Untitled, Fiber and plaster

For more information 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.

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Weaving a Common Thread: FiberWorks Spotlights Contemporary and Traditional Fiber Arts by Karen Paul

High-craft meets high art at FiberWorks 2011, sponsored by the Fiber Artists of Oklahoma (FAO). In its 33rd year, this juried art show on display June 3 through 19, 2011 at Living Arts of Tulsa showcases innovative fiber arts. It also educates the public and the art world about the power of fiber to visually illustrate artistic expression. The event exclusively showcases contemporary and traditional works primarily constructed of fiber, including woven pieces, soft sculpture, needlework, paper creations and beading. 2011 marks the first year that FiberWorks, which has traditionally been held in Oklahoma City, will be hosted in Tulsa. FAO made the decision to alternate the show between Oklahoma’s two major cities based on market demands and artist participation. “Back in 2008, we formed a Tulsa branch of Fiber Artists of Oklahoma. By bringing the show to Tulsa on a semi-annual basis, we are hoping to expose the city and its surrounding communities to the innovative fiber art that is being produced by local artists,” said Jean Ann Fausser, FAO board member and Tulsa representative. FiberWorks’ Tulsa debut will provide a forum for the wide variety of fiber art that is being produced in Oklahoma. Although fiber has been used as a creative medium for thousands of years, fiber art is sometimes perceived as a less serious means of artistic expression. “There’s an ongoing debate about the craft versus art aspect of what we do. Yes, what we do is a craft based medium, but it’s also art. We’re using high crafting techniques to express ourselves artistically,” said Fausser. For artists like Fausser, it takes more than just good craftsmanship to produce a piece of fiber art. Artistic meaning on a personal level is created through the use of strong craft skills. These craft skills do not define the meaning of an artistic piece. Instead, they allow a fiber artist to express his or her own artistic voice using two- and three-dimensional tactile media.

The debate surrounding craft versus art is embraced by the FiberWorks exhibition. In each show, FAO also works to educate the public and the art world about fiber artistry media and techniques through the pieces and jurors it selects. The 2011 exhibition will be juried by Jane Dunnewold, a nationally-recognized surface designer who maintains Art Cloth Studios in San Antonio, Texas. Dunnewold is known for her highly complex work of digitally printed fabrics that examine the psychology of artistry and meaning. “We are very fortunate to have Jane at our show. We had to schedule her a long way in advance. Jane brings a unique combination of experience and critical knowledge to the show,” Fausser said. To select artwork, Dunnewold will be examining the actual pieces submitted for consideration which sharply contrasts with the selection process for many art shows, which use digital photos or slides. For FAO members, the use of photographs is unthinkable. A twodimensional photographic representation would not do the pieces under consideration justice. “We feel like the use of original pieces is a fairer way to determine who is selected for the show. Fiber is a highly textural medium that has a variety of meanings, depending on how it is used. Texture just doesn’t come through in a photo. With the original pieces, our jurors can take a long time to experience what each piece is trying to communicate,” Fausser said. A desire to truly focus on each piece submitted for the show makes Dunnewold a tremendous asset for FiberWorks. “Jane is encouraging and informative with the criticism that she gives to artists. She spends time with each piece because she truly desires to

(left) Stephanie Grubbs, Edmond, Bulb Talk, Cotton thread, 8” x 3.5” (right) Jean Ann Fausser, Tulsa, Let Me Entertain You, Knotted thread, lady’s heel and ankle strap, 10” x 12” x 4”, Winner of the 2010 FiberWorks Judge’s Choice Award


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(top) C. Elizabeth Smathers, Tulsa, Alluvion, Pine needles, raffia and cottonwood, 3” x 13.5” x 13.5”, Winner of the 2010 HGA Award for Creativity and Craftsmanship. (right) Pam Husky, Stigler, River, Felted wool and silk, 60” x 42” x 2”

give artists important feedback they need to grow,” Fausser said. Dunnewold, like FAO, works regularly to increase the visibility of the fiber arts movement. She discusses the high craft versus art debate surrounding fiber media and creative expression on her Existential Neighborhood blog, www. She also educates the public on fiber media issues through workshops and lectures. While in Oklahoma, she will be presenting a Juror’s Lecture, Emerging Art Quilt Genres, on June 3, 2011. The lecture will be open to the general public. “Everyone with Fiber Artists originally started this show because we wanted the opportunity to exhibit our art and educate the general public. I’m proud of the quality show FiberWorks has become,” Fausser said. “We always want a diverse variety of fiber art at our show. We encourage any artists who are living and working in Oklahoma and producing quality, original work to submit to our show.” Entries for FiberWorks 2011 will be accepted Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. For more information, visit FAO’s web site at n Karen Paul is a freelance writer and photographer based in Norman, OK, who specializes in arts-focused and Oklahoma-based subjects. You can contact her at

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Intimate Strangers: Amy Blakemore at OKCMOA by Jennifer Barron

(left) Amy Blakemore, Houston, TX, Dad, Chromogenic photograph, 1999. (right) Amy Blakemore, Houston, TX, Pam, Chromogenic photograph, 1997. Photos courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston.

Photographer Amy Blakemore has a rare ability to present complete worlds to viewers through seemingly casual snapshots, with quirks and emotions intact. Her photographs of people and places offer surprising and often highly personal perspectives. Blakemore’s exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, on display May 5 through July 10, takes visitors through twenty years of her development as a photographer and the results are a revelation: at times cerebral, sharp and searching, at other times blurred, reductive, and intensely emotional. A Tulsa native, Blakemore began taking photographs in the fourth grade, and started to seriously explore her art form in the darkroom at Booker T. Washington High School. She completed her undergraduate studies at Drury College, earning degrees in both art and sociology. Blakemore seriously


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considered a career in social work before choosing her art career, and her empathetic point of view is clear in the connections she makes with her subjects. Given this background, it seems perhaps natural that she considered herself more a documentarian than an artist throughout her graduate work at the University of Texas, taking portraits of people she encountered on the street and adding handwritten notes about her subjects to each image. Travel has served as an important vehicle for Blakemore’s work, allowing her to shift her perspective and explore both new and familiar spaces with an outsider’s eye. Photographs from 1992-1999 were taken in various cities including Lourdes, San Antonio and Tulsa. No matter the location, these pictures feel both meticulous - showing us something we might otherwise miss - and universal -

offering a relatable mood and recognizable details. In Plaza, a white-clothed nurse pushes a patient in a wheelchair across a concrete surface flecked with signs of traffic, age and other wear. In the foreground, a white sculpture of a robed male figure points up, skyward. Its shadow points almost directly toward the nurse- focused on the earth-bound task at hand - and her charge. Something about the statue in the foreground and the darkness of the concrete changes the aspect of the scene, making the sunny, outdoor scene appear hemmed in and heavy. Toward the end of her graduate education, Blakemore began to work with a Diana camera. The Diana, a plastic-bodied box camera produced for about ten years in the 1960s and 1970s, is known for light leaks, fuzziness of images, and other varying “flaws” that have come to be appreciated

by many artists for their rawness and unpredictability. No two Diana cameras will have the exact same flaws. Increasingly, Blakemore has relied on the Diana to employ a “snapshot aesthetic” that has become a signature of her work. This style, first popularized in the 1960s, allows artists to find art in the most casual of settings, and to relate easily to viewers through relatable imagery. Curator and art critic John Szarkowski described this approach as seeking “not to reform life but to know it.” The 1999 photograph Workshop is a striking example of this genre. Cabinets, marked with handwritten numbers, stand closed beyond a half-opened door. Hanging on the door is a well-worn shirt and a caddy full of woodworking tools. About half of the details are obscured by shadows, and others are washed out in intense light. The result feels like a memory: vague, poignant, intimate. The viewer feels as though he or she is peeking through a door into someone’s confidential work area, which was indeed the case: this image was captured during a trip to her parents’ home in Tulsa while her father was suffering from terminal illness. In Blakemore’s hands, the snapshot aesthetic is combined with a sly documentary sensibility. Often spare and deceptively minimal, these photographs typically contain one strong focal point that directs the mood of the image, and the attention of the viewer. Her subjects feel almost isolated in the frame. In Pam, a young woman in a dark coat looks away from the viewer as she walks past a rocky shoreline with snow-capped mountains beyond a body of water. She faces this landscape with one hand in her hair in a casual gesture. Without seeing her facial expression, the viewer could assume she is lost in difficult thought, distracted, or simply brushing her hair back. Despite the dramatic background, viewers are pulled immediately past the pale blues to the ambiguous figure in the foreground. With limited visual cues, lavish use of available light, deep empathy and frank

presentation, viewers of Amy Blakemore’s work are invited to feel at home in other lives. Nuns, strangers, landscapes, and Blakemore’s own friends and relatives make up a revolving and compelling cast. Perhaps the most surprising part is how familiar they already feel.

Amy Blakemore, Houston, TX, Deer and Tepee, Chromogenic photograph, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston.

Visit for more information about the exhibition. 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.

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Apocalyptic Improv: The Work of Chris Mantle by Janice McCormick

Chris Mantle, Tulsa, Red Lady, Acrylic, spray paint, marker on board, 24” x 18”

Like jazz, Christopher Mantle’s creative process is improvisational, intuitive and spontaneous. As of this writing, his currently untitled exhibit of large-format paintings, which will be at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition gallery June 3-25, has yet to be completed. Nevertheless, several points emerge from his proposal’s imagery, my informal interview with him and our email exchange. These points are: a consistent style, an ongoing concern for the human figure and an overarching thematic scheme.


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Mantle’s submitted imagery reveals a style that mixes those of Pablo Picasso and Jean Michel Basquiat. His paintings are created by bold gestural brushstrokes of bright colors flowing across the wide surfaces. These images are fairly sparse in details. Mantle explains, “Painting on a large surface involves more bodily movement, are more muscular, with more fluid contours reflecting the feelings and grace I am feeling.” Working on whatever surface comes to hand, he says, “I’ve painted on T-shirts, sheets, mattresses and muslin. I find sheets are better than

Chris Mantle, Tulsa, Face-Hand, Ink on paper, 24” x 20”

canvas because the lines are clearer than on canvas. It absorbs the paint better.” An interesting side note is his creation of a tepee made out of discarded carpet which he lived in during last winter’s first major snowfall. This reflects his recent embrace of his Native American heritage (Cherokee and Choctaw). In a recent email, he confirms his on-going concern for the human figure. “I have heightened interest in the human figure as did the Old Masters. They’re simply beautiful. I wish to restore a sense of classical beauty in today’s modern culture where perversions and distasteful subjects seem to have kindled contemporary appeal.” One of his previous works, Red Lady, is representative of his approach. An over-arching thematic scheme which Mantle is working on revolves around what

he terms “the pre/post apocalyptic.” Here is Mantle’s description: “I am emphasizing the relative belief that something may occur of the divine or celestial nature at the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar on December 21, 2012. I plan to exhibit a series of pre/ post apocalyptic works in early June. I’ve correlated the months with each year between 2001 and 2012. For example, 2001 will be January; 2002 will be February, and so on ending in 2012 as December. Each of my twelve paintings will capture major events of that year and I may attempt to match seasonal climate (as experienced near the center of the universe) with the events described.” The “center of the universe” refers to a specific site in downtown Tulsa - the walkway between Archer and First Street - where a masonry ring (just north of the The Cloud sculpture) has unique acoustic properties.

“My work evolves from my daily experiences, from what I see and hear around me. There is no way to know precisely what that will be in advance,” writes Chris Mantle in his submission. His works for this exhibit will, no doubt, embody his exuberant, improvisational style. Clearly, this emerging artist has an ever evolving vision worth keeping an eye on. Visit for details on Mantle’s upcoming exhibition. n 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

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When Buds and Blossoms Grow by Allison Meier

Elia Woods, Oklahoma City, ‘Somewhere is better than anywhere’ Flannery O’Conner, Photo transfer on silk, 10” x 17” x 4”

Elia Woods’ art grows from the natural world, with green leaves thriving and vibrant flowers blooming on three-dimensional fiber works. Woods started gardening and art at the same point in her life, taking her first art class in 1984 on alternative photography. Although she didn’t have any previous experience with either, they converged into a basis for her work and an important focus of her life. In her exhibition at the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol she examines urban farming and the environment. After a major gallery exhibition in 2008, Woods struggled to find a next, meaningful step in her art. “I really questioned what is the purpose of art,” she said. “It was a question that I didn’t have an answer for. I knew why I grew food, I could feel in my bones the value of that, but I wasn’t sure what was the value of art. I knocked myself out to get that exhibit done, and if I was going to pore this much life energy into something, I needed to know why I was doing it.”


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While she continued to weave and create functional fiber art, with a few exceptions she stopped making fine art. The show at the State Capitol will be her return to nonfunctional art since the 2008 exhibition. What has come to the forefront and brought purpose to her work is a passion for the preservation of the environment. “When I started focusing on the State Capitol exhibit and asking if I had anything to say at this time, it was clear to me that whatever I have to offer comes from being an urban farmer,” she said. “And getting back to the question of what is the purpose of art, there’s a different answer for each person and I have no critique of anyone’s answer, but for me I believe the purpose of art is to wake us up.” She has taken classes in market gardening and works as a manager for a friend’s urban farm in Oklahoma City. As an urban famer in a time when climate change and urbanization are huge topics, Woods has found an artistic direction by asking people to face the often devastating changes taking place in the environment, and make their

own changes to help turn the damaging practices of modern life around. “As a farmer, I think that making our own food is one of the changes we need to make,” she said. “Corporate agriculture is having a profound impact on our climate and our health, and there’s another way to grow food and sustain ourselves.” The beauty and deep satisfaction she has found in keeping her backyard garden and participating in urban farming is evident in the imagery of her art, which comes from photographs she takes of her plants throughout their life cycles, from seeds to flourishing organisms to death and decay. “I take such joy in being connected to the ground underneath our feet,” she said. “Much of modern life is a very constructed environment and really separated from the immediate environment in which we live. Sometimes that can be a fine thing, but much of that has been destructive.” One of the techniques she uses is transferring photographs onto silk fabrics. She layers these transparent images one in front of the other, so the viewer can look through the different dimensions, being at once with a human hand and the veins of a leaf, a corn plant and a sunflower, or children and a spider web. “I feel in any moment of the day, that there is a moment that we are living in and there are all the moments in the future that are also present,” she said. “Working in layers of images has this feeling that there’s the immediate physical layer and there’s also what’s come before and what’s ahead.” When she sees a seed of corn, she thinks of it as the individual plants she has already grown, and the plant it will grow into. With the hanging panels at the State Capitol, viewers will be pulled through the separate layers, able to find their own meaning in the juxtaposed images. As the Governor’s Gallery is a part of a building where decisions on agriculture and the environment are made, her exhibition is a rare chance to bring her art’s message directly to an audience that might not otherwise interact with it. She hopes it has the potential to be part of a political conversation and convey another way of seeing the world. Elia Woods will be exhibiting in the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol from May 23 to July 24, 2011. For more information on her 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

(top) Elia Woods, Oklahoma City, Into the Forest, Photo transfer on silk, 15” x 12” x 4” (bottom) Elia Woods, Oklahoma City, Kindred, Photo transfer on silk, 15” x 12” x 4”

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An Artists Garden Revealed


by Sheri Ishmael-Waldrop

Inspiration calls and an artist creates. Artist Gail Booth has created a secret garden at her Midtown Tulsa home. As you pass the manicured front yard, enter the side gate and round a corner of the parking area, your senses are tempted by the color, perfumes and texture of nature. She’s not sure what’s number one, painting or gardening, but there’s no limit to color and design when it comes to gardens. “They are probably the most inspiring things to me,” she said. “So to be able to combine gardening and painting is great.” Booth enjoys sharing her garden with other

artists, as well. She regularly invites artist friends to join her in painting there. She invites any artist to request a time to paint in her garden. “I love sharing my garden because I know it is an inspiration,” said Booth. “Over the years many artists have painted here. Having others work in my garden is always helpful because I then see my garden through other people’s eyes.” For the last several months Booth has been working on a series of garden miniatures. She usually works much larger, but loves the little ones. One of the most important things painting has done in her life is helping her to just be herself. She realizes the importance of painting from real life, saying “there’s no substitute for natural light.” She tries to paint from life, but painting en plein air is not very practical sometimes, so she also uses photographs. The Booth’s garden began seventeen years ago when they returned to Tulsa. They had lived in exotic faraway places for thirty years, like Kansas and Missouri, she said with a smile, where the dirt was impossible. They found a great house in Tulsa and while sitting on the front step waiting for the moving van she glanced down


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at the flower bed and noticed something unusual. Their new old house has the “most amazing river bottom soil” that will grow almost anything, making their garden possible. “Simply put, we just have great dirt,” Booth said. It can be difficult for artists to paint in this urban garden, it’s not huge and sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to get a vista, but mood is an important part of her garden. In the very back there’s a sense of privacy, the garden provides a feeling of calm and serenity even though you’re “smack dab in the middle of T-Town.” Originally, a large window in their den looked onto the backyard. During the first winter, she watched constantly from the window and daydreamed about what to do. “From the very beginning I envisioned it as a place you went into, not something you just looked at,” she said. “I wanted to be in the middle of it and experience it, not just observe it. I have lots of pathways and I try to entice people to go down the pathways and see what is there. You have to have focal points, but you don’t want people to see everything at once.” “We never intended for it to become what it is today, it just evolved,” she said. “I seem to constantly design in my mind and with our great soil there was no stopping us.”

(left) Gail Booth in her secret garden. (right) Gail Booth, Tulsa, Early, Early Morning, Oil on canvas, 11” x 14”

When Booth was growing up it was important that a yard was level and wellgroomed. She said her garden is anything but, as she has tried to get as much elevation as possible with lots of ups and downs. After about five years of work, the garden was complete. Booth said she was so disappointed because the process was over, but she soon discovered it is never over. A garden is a living thing and is constantly evolving. The variety of the space lets the viewer be inspired by choosing a particular scene that speaks to them. Booth said it is usually something at the end of a path with lots of airiness and shapes along the way. By creating a sense of mystery, whether it’s in a painting or the garden, people are drawn into the picture or down the pathway. She tries to focus on shrubs. They have the best life expectancy and they give you lots of volume and shape. She thinks of them as the furniture of the garden. One of her favorites

is Oakleaf Hydrangea. They are gorgeous all year and have beautiful structure, with a very graceful shape. “I think of them as the ballet dancers of the shrubs!” she said. A younger Booth had a fascination with trees and wanted to put their shapes down to preserve them. “They seemed so graceful and majestic to me as a child,” she said. “Actually, they still do. I had a strong desire then and now to express myself. So my artistic desires seemed to be connected with nature from the beginning.” Seasonable interest is another key. She has as much green as possible in the winter and tries to keep the color at a minimum, as natural as possible. One of the colors she thinks is neglected in the garden is orange, possibly because she is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. Orange has a warmth nothing else can bring, she said.

“One of the things people neglect in a garden is a focal point,” she said. “If there isn’t any design or focal point, people will end up staring at the ground. This isn’t peaceful, it’s just boring.” The use of pots gives a point of interest by utilizing shape and color. This allows her to create vibrancy by combing colors, for instance, putting a shade of red with burgundy and orange. The Booth garden has an upper and lower pond area. “My husband is a big man and he just thinks big. We were inspired by the water gardens at the Dallas Botanical Gardens and he thought ‘why not, let’s go for it’,” she said. One of the wonderful characteristics of water is that it adds a lot vertically because of the reflection, Booth said. She loves the expanse of depth and height it provides, as well as the sound it makes. continued to pg. 24

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continued from pg. 23

“It can put you to sleep in a matter of minutes,” she said. Booth is drawn to create by “simple inspiration” that’s impossible to predict. She hopes artists take away a quiet peacefulness, pure and simple, and loves sharing her garden. One of the things that fascinates her is how moods are affected by color. She’s “absolutely drawn” to vibrant bold color, but realizes without the subtle, subdued colors the vibrant ones didn’t hold their own. What she puts on the canvas is what she loves. “What I’ve realized is I just love color. Whether it’s the very pale lavender color of the hills in Oklahoma or an overcast, gray, winter day when it’s absolutely freezing, or the multitude of colors in one single cloud that appears to just be a simple white cloud. It’s like there’s no limit to color,” Booth said. To follow her garden through the season or see painting of her garden visit Contact Gail Booth through her blog for information about scheduling time to paint in her garden. n Sheri Ishmael Waldrop is a freelance writer and photographer from Sapulpa, and the director for Sapulpa Arts.

(top right) Gail Booth, Tulsa, The Red Umbrella, Oil on board, 5” x 7” (bottom right) Gail Booth, Tulsa, Oranges and Larkspur, Oil on board, 11” x 14” (below) Gail Booth takes photos in her Tulsa garden.


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At a Glance: GO FIGURE


Michael Neary, Nude on Green Cushions, Acrylic on paper, 24” x 36”

The Figure at the University of Tulsa’s Alexandre Hogue gallery in March revealed contemporary artists drawing upon past styles to explore an equally traditional subject matter – the human body. Sixteen artists contributed to this exhibit - nine members of the Midwest Paint Group and seven distinguished guest artists. The following three works, all by members of the MPG, will give you some idea of the scope and diversity of this exhibit. Most of the posed figures are female, often nude, depicted within the confines of an artist’s studio. Especially powerful is Bob Brock’s Reclining Figure. The nude model’s elongated form stretches out across a deep red couch. She appears to be open and vulnerable, but that is not the case. By closing her eyes, she remains closed in on herself. Both the couch that cradles her and the dark walls that almost wrap around the couch add to this psychic remoteness. A well-placed brown box in front of the couch further distances the viewer from the model. Even the surface treatment of her limbs in terms of angular blocks of color (à la Paul Cezanne) gives her a subtle edginess.

Glen Cebulash’s large scale work Three Figures (96” x 56”) reflects his cubist approach. Only at a distance can one decipher all three figures. Out of the myriad of geometric patches, each figure gradually coalesces around a key shape that signifies a body part. Thus, the uppermost figure emerges out of a jumble of pink, flesh and white color blocks once the viewer reads a black triangle as a sign of her gender. A second figure in the lower portion of the painting proves more difficult to discern. It is a purple outline of a two-toned gray oval that helps you recognize the top of a head. Only now do you see the torso receding back in space and splayed legs bent at the knees. Once again a black triangle signifies the figure’s gender. This style shows just how little visual data is needed for human beings to recognize their own. Fauvism, with its unnatural colors, inspired Michael Neary’s DEB. A woman sits at a small round café table upon which sits an empty mug. Her bright orange complexion makes her bright blue eyes pop out as they vacantly stare out of the picture. She is bored. Yet, the contrast of blue bricks right behind her orange hair creates a visual liveliness that continued to pg. 26

at a glance


(left) Lester Goldman, Kathrin, Graphite on Paper, 24” x 18” (middle) Jeremy Long, Colleen Folding Laundry, Oil on canvas, 16” x 20” (right) Timothy King, Elizabeth, Oil on canvas, 48” x 36”

continued from pg. 25 runs counter to her boredom. Her pose is inert, self-contained. Her left hand holds her chin, while her left elbow rests on the table. Her right arm rests on the table, her right hand cupping her left elbow. A straight red line forms her mouth. The slightly tilting table top is held up by spindly wrought iron legs. Her red, pink and green floral skirt clashes with her dull brown stockings and brown blouse. Oddly, she does not wear the pair of white shoes that sit underneath the table. The overall reading of her personality is one of eccentricity. As these three examples show, the human body still fascinates and inspires artists working in diverse styles and viewers of diverse tastes alike. n 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


at a glance

Ask a Creativity Coach:

by Romney Nesbitt

Dear Romney, Sometimes I get in the middle of a project and want to bail. Is there a logical way to evaluate my work while it’s in progress? — Think too much Dear Think, Determining whether an idea is worth ongoing time and effort is a tough call. Dr. Shelly Carson, Harvard psychologist and author of the new book Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life offers some guidelines for evaluating the merit of your work when you feel discouraged.

Romney Nesbitt is a Creativity Coach, artist and writer in Tulsa. She is the author of Secrets From a Creativity Coach, available on Amazon. com. Romney welcomes your questions or ideas for future columns. Contact her at Book her to speak to your group through www.

Get some distance. Put your work aside for a few days before you make a decision on its long-term value. Don’t let a temporary feeling of discouragement or fear take control of your creativity. Evaluate your work with respect. Don’t be overly critical of your work. Choose to critique your work with the same care you would use when critiquing someone else’s work. Be honest and be kind. Don’t abandon a project midway through. Finish your project—do not destroy it! Remember you can always throw it out after it’s finished. Look at individual parts of your work. Some areas of your work may be stronger than others—celebrate those. The best of what you’ve learned will show up in your next piece.

naTIo Tulsa InTer


Tulsa’s Premiere Arts

Be flexible—your original idea might have changed. Art work naturally evolves if you don’t hold on too tight.

Allow me to add another thought. Some pieces of art are what I call “threshold” works. A threshold piece may need to be finished in order for you to move forward. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the purpose of your current piece may be to be the bridge to the next piece. Everything counts. One thing leads to another. n


Great Art! Great Music! Great Food!


Don’t survey your friends about the value of your work. This isn’t a thumbs-up or thumbs-down review. You really can work without the opinion or approval of others. Be tough on your work, not on yourself. Remember to judge the work. You are not your work.

11 May 19th – 22nd, 20va l www.tulsamayfest.


Thursday, May 19th Friday, May 20th Saturday, May 21st Sunday, May 22nd

11am – 11pm 11am – 11pm 11am – 11pm 11am – 6pm


Downtown Tulsa between Third and Sixth on Main

Admission: Free!

Mayfest is an outdoor tribute to the arts and to music. It was created to promote a broader knowledge of and appreciation for arts and humanities among serious, as well as casual, art lovers.

business of art


OVAC Program Assistant Stephanie Ruggles Winter Celebrates 10 Years of Service for Oklahoma Artists

OVAC Program Assistant Stephanie Ruggles Winter celebrates 10 years of working at OVAC in May! How the times have changed. When she started at OVAC, the membership was under 300 (now over 1,000) and budget was $100,000 (now $400,000). Stephanie helped start Momentum in 2002 and initiated the Virtual Gallery in 2003, literally scanning thousands of slides at first. She has been an incredible colleague, mentor and advocate. Thank you Stephanie for all your work for Oklahoma artists and the growth of OVAC’s services. (below) Stephanie Ruggles Winter and Kelsey Karper at Momentum OKC 2011. (right top) Stephanie Ruggles Winter and Jennifer Barron at Momentum OKC 2011. (right middle) Julia Kirt and Stephanie Ruggles Winterat the 2006 Creative Capital Retreat. (right bottom) Stephanie Ruggles Winter with her son Ben and Julia Kirt at the 2004 OVAC Members Meeting.


ovac news

OVAC Round Up Please save the date of June 11 for the OVAC Annual Members Meeting. Expect a fun new format for members to meet each other as we take care of business. We elect new board members and officers, review the accomplishments of the year, and more. Plus, we always have good food and company. Expect invitations in May. OVAC adds artist video profiles regularly. See recent short videos about the artists from Art 365 and Momentum Spotlight on our YouTube channel: We hope these videos supplement Art Focus Oklahoma and blog articles about Oklahoma artists.

MAY | JUNE 2011

Thanks to the great artists and committee for Tulsa Art Studio Tour in April, led by Jan Hawks and Christopher Owens. We are thankful to the Circle Cinema for hosting a preview exhibition in March. See more at for updates about the project and information about the art collection. n

Art People: Elliott + Associates Architects of Oklahoma City has been selected to design and renovate the new Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. The Postal Plaza was purchased last year and will be renovated into the museum. Louise Siddons is the curator of the art collection and future OSU Museum of Art. Watch

Thank you to our New and Renewing Members from January and February 2010 Drew Ackerman Andrew Akufo Laurie Allard Mikki Andrews Denna Armstrong Stuart and Jodi Asprey Lynette Atchley Alan and Susan Atkinson Kerry Azzarello Andrew Baker Lauren Barnes Randall Barnes Duff Bassett Holly Baumann Linda Bayard Nick Bayer Gary Bennett Kerry Billington Julie Marks Blackstone Bill Broiles Kendall Brown Martha Burger Milissa Burkart Alain Buthion Scott Calhoon Chris Cameris Mike and Barbara Carter Eliseo Casiano Josh Cassella Sharon Caudle Jeremy Charles Mathew Christian Beverly Clark

Olen Cook III Whitney Cross Kathleen Curran Sarah Day-Short Hillarey Dees Garris Dennis Sara Dooley Claudia Doyle Julia DuBreuil Kellie Eastham Vonda Evans Carmen Farnbach Hillary and Peter Farrell Leslie Fast Natalie Friedman Barney Gibbs John and Stephany Gooden Jerold Graham Jeudi Hamilton Bill Handy Nancy Harkins Kent T. Hathaway James Hawkins J. Shalene Henley Charlotte Hickman Eric Hollingsworth J. Jann Jeffrey Patricia Jellerson Jessica Jennings Matthew Josef John and Casey Kalafut Kreg Kallenberger Judy Kelley

Jason Kempf Bob Kenworthy Eric Kimberlin Erin Kozakiewicz Vanessa Larwig Charli Lau Luke Lawson Anna Lee Vincent B. Leitch Caitlin Lindsey Elizabeth Lonergan Patta Lt Greg Main Rebecca Mannschreck Josh Mars and Catherine Wall Lindsey McIntyre Robin and Shawn Meyers Stacey Miller Jason and Nicole Moan Caryl Morgan Lindsey Morris Amanda Morton Kurt Nagy Tam Nguyen Sharon Nielsen-Jensen Brandon Norman Lori Oden Beverly Ogle Romy Owens Phyllis A. Pace Ryan Pack Anna and Trey Parsons Britni Peel

Pete Peterson Bethany Petrone Laura Pickering Julie Plant Ben Potter Tony and Celia Powles Rush Prigmore Alan and Val Ray Lee Reams Laura Reed Laura Reese Betty Refour Julie Reynolds Terra Rhoades Ariana Riera Kathleen Rivers Robert Roberson Tahlia Roper Brittany Rudolf Lauren Savage Erin Schalk Shane and Sara Scribner Saaniya Ekram Shaikh Mark Sharfman Milo Borges and Amber Sharples Janet and Michael Sherry Natalie Shirley Tamara Sigler Lynda SmithSchick Jacquelyn Sparks Josh Speer Jim Stewart

Julie Strauss Doris Swanson Sarah Tedder Kevin Thomas Marion McKenzie Thompson Trisha Thompson Ginger Tomshany Brooks and Debra Tower Christian and Alesha Trimble Carolyn Trimble Angela True Tracy Turner Lori Valley Cindy Van Kley Aubrey Van Tassell Burneta Venosdel James Walden Jennifer Waldrop Ryan Walker Catherine Wall Kerry Walsh Corazon S. Watkins Jean Weber Kip Welch Charles and Renate Wiggin Brendon Williams Holly Wilson Kody Wilson Chad Woolbright

ovac news


Gallery Listings & Exhibition Schedule




Senior Student Exhibition May 1- 8 Ada Artists Spring Show May 20- May 31 Alumni Show June 1- August 12 The Pogue Gallery Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center 900 Centennial Plaza (580) 559-5353

Selections from the Charles & Margot Nesbitt Collection Through August 5 University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma Gallery-Davis Hall 1806 17th Street (405) 574-1344

Restituto Paris Jr, Carol Whitney and Rebecca Dierickx-Taylor Opening May 14, 7-9 The Leslie Powell Foundation and Gallery 620 D Avenue (580) 357-9526



150th Anniversary of the Civil War Through July 9 Edmond Historical Society & Museum 431 S. Boulevard (405) 340-0078

Mediterranea: American Art from the Graham D. Williford Collection Stare Stare Stereo Tea & Immortality: Contemporary Chinese Yixing Teapots from the James T. Bialac Collection Through May 15 Reinstallation of the Permanent Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art Opening June 4, 6-8 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 555 Elm Ave. (405) 325-4938


Ardmore Art Guild May 17- June 3 Permanent Collection June 7-30 Art Lecture with Keith Murray June 9, 6:30 The Goddard Center 401 First Avenue SW (580) 226-0909

Bartlesville Bruce Goff: A Creative Mind Through May 1 Once Upon an Island: Twin Tours Rising May 13- September 11 Price Tower Arts Center 510 Dewey Ave. (918) 336-4949

El Reno College Student Show and Showcase Through May 13 Fine Arts Faculty and Staff Show May 23- July 29 Redlands Community College (405) 262-2552

Oklahoma City Sarah Atlee May 6-31 deadCENTER June 3 aka gallery 3001 Paseo (405) 606-2522 Art 365 Through May 7 Closing & catalog release May 6, 5-8 [ArtSpace] at Untitled 1 NE 3rd St. (405) 815-9995

Tessa Raven May 13 Group Show June 10 DNA Galleries 1705 B NW 16th (405) 371-2460 Sara Scribner, Greg Gummersall, Jenny Gummersall May 6- 30 Opening May 6, 6-10 Glenna Goodacre June 3-25 Opening June 3, 6-10 JRB Art at the Elms 2810 North Walker (405) 528-6336 Living Legacy: The Sculpture of Father and Son Willard and Jason Stone Through June 18 Pure Color: By the Oklahoma Society of Impressionists June 23- October 1 Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum 1400 Classen Dr. (405) 235-4458 American Indian Printmakers Through May 8 To Picture the Words: Illustrators of the American West Through May 15 Allen True’s West Through May 15 The Bow Knife: Icon of the American Character Through November 20 National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd (405) 478-2250

Frank Duchamp, Oklahoma Wheatfield (After Van Gogh), Oil on canvas, 54” x 66” at Joseph Gierek Fine Art in Tulsa May 5-June 4.


gallery guide

DJ Lafon Through May 8 Roger Disney May 16- July 17 East Gallery Stacey Miller May 9- July 10 North Gallery Paul Walsh Through May 15 Elia Woods May 23- July 24 Governor’s Gallery Oklahoma State Capitol Galleries 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd (405) 521-2931 George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher Through May 8 1934: A New Deal for Artists May 26- August 21 Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch Drive (405) 236-3100 PEEPS Art Show May 6- 21 Paseo Arts Festival May 28, 29, 30 Paseo Art Space 3022 Paseo (405) 525-2688

Ponca City Student Exhibit: High School Through May 22 Ponca City Art Center 819 East Central (580) 765-9746

Shawnee Rembrandt Etchings: States, Fakes and Restrikes May 6- June 26 Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art 1900 West Macarthur (405) 878-5300

Tulsa Rendezvous 2011: Veryl Goodnight and Curt Walters Through July 10 Gilcrease Museum 1400 Gilcrease Road (918) 596-2700 Frank Duchamp: Heartland Homage May 5- June 4 Opening May 5, 6-8 Joseph Gierek Fine Art 1512 E. 15th St (918) 592-5432

ArtCar Exhibit May 7-27 7th Annual Tulsa ArtCar Weekend May 26-29 Fiberworks Exhibit June 3- July 11 Living Artspace 307 E. Brady (918) 585-1234 Anita Fields, Molly Murphy-Adams May 7- June 15 Scott French, Brian Koch, Gwen Wong June 25- July 31 Lovetts Gallery 6528 E 51st St (918) 664-4732

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.

American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow Through May 15 Rauschenberg at Gemini June 12- September 11 The Philbrook Museum of Art 2727 South Rockford Road (918) 749-7941

Mayfest Exhibit May 4- June 1 Tulsa Glass Blowers June 3-30 Tulsa Performing Arts Center Gallery Third and Cincinnati (918) 596-2368

5x5 Annual Fundraiser May 5, Begins at 5:55 Chris Mantle June 3- 25 Tulsa Artists Coalition Gallery 9 East Brady (918) 592-0041


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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. U pcoming Events

May 7: Every Artist Insured Workshop May 13-14: 24 Works on Paper Artist Deadline May 19: Photo Slam June 3: Momentum Tulsa Spotlight Artist Deadline June 11: OVAC Annual Members Meeting

May Greg Gummersall Jenny Gummersall Sara Scribner Opening Reception: FRIDAY, MAY 6 6 - 10 P.M.

June Glenna Goodacre Opening Reception: FRIDAY, JUNE 3 6 - 10 P.M.

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

2810 North Walker Phone: 405.528.6336




Art Focus Oklahoma, May/June 2011  

2011 May/June Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into and...