ArtOFocus k l a h o m a
Okl a ho m a V i s u al A r ts C o al i t i on
Vo l u m e 2 2 N o . 5
Samantha Lamb page 5
ArtOFocus kl a h o m a Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition P.O. Box 1946 • Oklahoma City, OK 73101 ph: 405.232.6991 • e: email@example.com visit our website at: www.ovac-ok.org Executive Director: Julia Kirt firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Kelsey Karper email@example.com Art Director: Anne Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Yousef Khanfar Edmond
Nathan Opp Tulsa
On the Cover: Samantha Lamb Oklahoma City Warming the Keys – The Trees Will Talk Series, Photography
Shan Goshorn Tulsa
3 Michi Susan 5 Samantha Lamb
6 7 8 10
Visiting Artist Program
Yousef Khanfar Nathan Opp
12 On the Map 13 OklaDada 14 ART 365: Sarah Atlee
This program is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council
business of art
16 How I did my Homework 18 Artists PR 20 Creativity Coach
19 New & Renewing Members 20 Round UP 21 At a Glance 22
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 Anonymous letters will not be published.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; Sue Clancy, Norman; Michael Hoffner, Stephen Kovash, Cindy Miller, Debbie Nauser, Roger Runge and Sue Moss Sullivan, Oklahoma City. OVAC Board of Directors 2007-2008: Kathleen Rivers, Ada; Richard Pearson, Rick Vermillion, Edmond; Jonathan Hils, Norman; Skip Hill, Stephen Kovash (Vice President), Suzanne Mitchell, Ira Schlezinger, John Seward, Carl Shortt, Suzanne Thomas, Lila Todd, Sydney Bright Warren, Elia Woods (Secretary), Oklahoma City; Joey Frisillo, Pam Hodges, PhD (President), Sand Springs; Cathy Deuschle, Elizabeth Downing, Jean Ann Fausser (Treasurer), RC Morrison, Tulsa; Eunkyung Jeong, Weatherford The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition is solely responsible for the contents of Art Focus Oklahoma. However, the views expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Board or OVAC staff. Member Agency of Allied Arts and member of the National Association of Artists’ Organizations. © 2007, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved.
Through an Artist’s Eyes: A Profile of Michi Susan
Michi Susan, Oklahoma City Tea Ceremony 301-07 Mixed Media 24”x30”
by Kelsey Karper Viewing a work by Michi Susan is like experiencing a visual incarnation of her spirit. Joyful and complex, the layers of color and pattern communicate a lifetime of experiences. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Michi’s style successfully blends Japanese tradition with her contemporary Western world. In her studio in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City, Michi told me that she discovered her interest in art when she was in the sixth grade. Her parents collected art and nurtured her interest. Her mother was a painter and had learned embroidery techniques in Paris. Michi’s formal art education began
at Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, one of only two women’s universities at the time. The acceptance was very competitive and Michi came highly recommended from her high school art teachers. Michi left Japan at the age of 35 after meeting her husband who was in the civil service. They first went to Louisiana where Michi says she learned a lot from their artist community. She was immediately taken in with a group of southern American women artists. She recalled the weekly meetings they had, drinking wine and discussing art. The group would invite other women to join their discussions as well,
including the likes of Deborah Butterfield and Judy Chicago, who would take a detour to Louisiana while visiting the Dallas Museum of Art for various engagements. Michi and her husband finally came to Oklahoma in 1978 where Michi felt she was accepted into the art community right away. “Oklahoma has been so nice to me, even when I just started,” Michi said, thinking back on her time here. “I can’t get away from Oklahoma.” Her Paseo studio is filled with her creations, ranging from petite paintings to sculptures continued page 4
continued from page 3 that equal her in size. Michi has been steadily at work, preparing for her upcoming exhibition at JRB Art at The Elms in October. Her work most often comes in series and this exhibition will be no exception. She plans to include her sculpture from her Folk Festival series, as well as two-dimensional works from her other series Poem, Tea Ceremony, Wildflower and Kimono Landscape. Always evolving, Michi has begun two new series titled Birdsong and Kabuki that will be included as well. She stated that she likes working in series because you can just keep going. To avoid tiring of any one series, she’s always working on several different themes. A close look at any one of Michi’s pieces will reveal multiple layers of paint, fabrics and papers, ranging from traditional Japanese papers to plain brown paper bags. She also incorporates small bits of things like puzzle pieces and twigs that she collects, bringing unique texture to her canvases. When asked about her creative process, Michi said that the designs for her compositions just come into her mind. Because of the heavy mixed media and collage elements in all of her pieces, she works with her canvas or paper lying flat on the floor. She begins by laying on designs and papers, cut or torn to fit her vision. Then comes what she calls “the fun part” of embellishing with jewels, sticks and other objects.
Michi Susan, Oklahoma City Poem 308-06 Mixed Media 30” X 40”
Michi sees all of her works as landscapes. “They are all mostly Oklahoma scenes,” she said. “These are Oklahoma colors to me.” The vivid and brilliant colors that she is known for in her work give us a glimpse of how the world looks through her eyes. Her love for Oklahoma is apparent when talking with her and Oklahoma loves her, too. Recently, she was given the Oklahoma Artist of the Year Award by the Paseo Artist’s Association. The upcoming exhibition of Michi Susan’s work will be held at JRB Art at The Elms, 2810 N. Walker Ave. in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City. The opening reception is October 5th, beginning at 6 pm. The exhibit will run through October 28th. For more information, visit www.jrbartgallery.com. ■ About the Author: Kelsey Karper is the Editor of Art Focus Oklahoma and a photographer working in historic and alternative processes. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Michi Susan, Oklahoma City Bird Song 405-07 Mixed Media 30” X 40”
Michi Susan in her studio in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City.
(left) Samantha Lamb, Oklahoma City, Days of Rest – Photosynthesis: Turning Light Into Life Series, Photography
Samantha Lamb: Young Talent
(middle) Samantha Lamb, Oklahoma City, Tosseling in the Waves – Photosynthesis: Turning Light Into Life Series, Photography (right) Samantha Lamb, Oklahoma City, All the Rest – Photosynthesis: Turning Light Into Life Series, Photography
by Lori Oden I first saw Samantha Lamb’s photography on display at Sauced Café in the Historic Paseo Arts District this past Spring. Her work immediately captured my attention; I quickly abandoned my quest for a mocha. With the exception of one image, the show featured color photography. However, the work had unmistakable silver saturation. Color photography is undeniably beautiful, but I tend to prefer historic and traditional photography for many reasons, but mainly because of the silver element. Here was a color process that particularly interested me. The metallic paper process gave Lamb’s work a distinctive, luring appeal. Besides the different color process she used, her subject matter also captivated me. Lamb has excellent command of composition and uses depth-of-field with perfection. In one of my favorite images, a faceless, young girl with miss-matched, holey argyle socks plays an accordion. Her patchy skirt against weathered, wooden steps provides interesting textures and shapes. The image gave me a sense of loneliness, but also joy. A majority of Lamb’s work has this type of dichotomy. Additionally, Lamb’s work finds beauty in simple, everyday objects. She focuses her camera on a green apple sitting next to a sink; a glass jar against a blue wall; and a leaf floating in rippling water. To compliment the photographs, Lamb uses a variety of framing techniques. She uses old, multi panel windows that alternate photographs and clear glass to create a story line. Shadow boxes feature a photograph, an object that relates to the image and shredded pages from a book. Lamb inter-mingles traditional frames as well. Lamb was born in Oklahoma City. She attended high school in Yukon where she enjoyed theatre. Her grandparents lived in Hobart; she visited almost every weekend. Her grandparents’ farm holds her fondest memories, and is the place where she does most of her photography. She poetically stated, “The farm is a well of inspiration for me.” Currently a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma, Lamb has been taking photographs for only a few years. She began her college career as a journalism/broadcasting major and anchored the University
News Channel 22 during her freshman year. However, she began to fall out of love with that career choice and at some point she realized there was something else she needed to do, but did not know what it was supposed to be. According to Lamb, 2004 was a pivotal year. She said, “I had gone to church my whole life but I found faith in 2004. I would get so sad that there were these breathgiving sights I saw everyday, but I just could not keep them so I picked up a camera and started to capture them with film.” That summer she traveled Europe and changed her major to photography in the Fall. She said, “The experience of Europe, plus my love for nature are behind my creativity and individual style.” Her Uncle was a camera enthusiast and she received her first film camera from her father, a Canon AE1. Lamb is versatile; she continues to use the Canon, but also a twin lens reflex camera (medium format) and a digital Canon 5D. When I met with Lamb to talk about her photography she brought along a sketch book, which she keeps with her, along with her cameras, at all times. In her short career thus far Lamb has initiated several series, including: The Trees Will Talk, the Polaroid Project, Photosynthesis, and Faceless Portraiture of a Country Girl. In addition, Lamb has made album covers and promotional packages. A promising future is in store for this young, talented lady. Her passion for photography oozes from her skin and conversation. She hopes to eventually publish books and work with children. She loves to travel as well and hopes to visit Ireland soon to create a series of images about shepherds and their sheep. In addition to her photography, Lamb enjoys fishing, baking and working on the farm with her family. She loves folk music and finds inspiration for her images from the lyrics and beat of the music. Lamb is now the proud tenant of an art studio in the Avalon Building on Paseo, unit #7. You can view her work on her website samanthalambphotography.com. Her work is also on exhibit through midSeptember at Dreamer Concepts Studio at 324 E. Main in Norman. ■ About the Author: Lori Oden is the Executive Director of the Paseo Artists Association. She is also an accomplished photographer, specializing in nineteenth century processes. Oden can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(left) Alexandre Hogue, Tulsa, 1898-1994, USA White on White, Oil, 41”x32”, 1972 (right) Pierson Gallery, Tulsa
Tulsa’s Pierson Gallery to Host Centennial Show by Cathy Deuschle I’ve frequented Linda Pierson’s gallery and frame shop for many years, sometimes for practical reasons but often to find solace, to find something to smile about. Beyond the concern shown my art, and Linda’s general sympathy towards artists (she’s an artist herself), the character of the shop, the quirky and democratic nature of the place, is restorative. When little dangling folk art figures made from whittled sticks and pecan nuts share space with the sophisticated and highly pedigreed work of artists such as Alexandre Hogue and Doel Reed; and vintage Native American weaving, jewelry, and pottery mingle with the current work of Tulsa area artists, then some artificial boundaries have, within this small space, been transcended and the world feels roomier, more accommodating. Art, if not people, can get along. That seems to be Linda Pierson’s assumption. Despite, or maybe because of, such wildly varied company, the eloquence of each piece still comes through. More trading post than art vault, this space welcomes tradition, craft, history, and highly individual vision. The gallery walls and
cabinets are full, and both frames and art are stacked to the ceiling of the adjacent shop. A number of the tailor made, or closed corner, frames could arguably be called art as well, so fine is the craftsmanship. Surveying all the art amassed, it becomes apparent that the overarching theme is Oklahoma. It’s a theme explored from countless angles as the work displayed cuts across cultures and time periods and synthesizes, through style, content, and media, a wealth of expressive possibilities. Given this love for the local, it’s natural and fitting that the Pierson gallery should present a show in September entitled, Oklahoma Artists: A Centennial Celebration. Included will be art that touches on Oklahoma from statehood to the present. Oscar Brousse Jacobson, Doel Reed, and Alexandre Hogue, three seminal Oklahoma artists and teachers at OU, OSU, and TU, respectively, will have work shown, as will two other early influential artists and teachers: Emilio Amero, a Mexican American muralist and lithographer, and J. Jay McVicker. Charles Banks Wilson, named an Oklahoma cultural treasure in 2001 and well known for both his portraits of famous Oklahomans and his murals at the State Capital depicting the
history of Oklahoma from 1541 to 1900, is well represented here. The gallery will also display numerous pieces by Mike Larsen who is recognized for his State Capital mural entitled Flight of Spirit depicting Oklahoma’s five Indian ballerinas, and for the eight murals ringing the lobby of the Quartz Mountain lodge that commemorate both the history of the Oklahoma Arts Institute and the history of the region. There will no doubt be bawdy folk art metal sculptures by the late Robert Maker as well as work by celebrated Native American artists, Woody Crumbo and Fred Beaver. Many other Oklahoma artists past and present will be represented as well. Together, these distinct voices will leave the viewer with a strong, though by no means conclusive, feel for the regional flavor of this land, its people, and mostly, its art. Oklahoma Artists: A Centennial Celebration opens September 27 at 5 pm. The Pierson Gallery and Boston Avenue Frame is located at 1311 E. 15 St., Tulsa. Find them online at www.bostonavenueframetheavenuestudio.com. ■ About the Author: Cathy Deuschle is an artist and a teacher living in Tulsa.
IN SEARCH OF PEACE by Lori Oden It could be argued that photography is a universal language. A photograph, whether you are fond of it or not, speaks to what you like or dislike about yourself and/or the world. It can provide information or visual evidence of a place far from home. For Yousef Khanfar, he hopes his photographs not only communicate peace, but inspire it. Khanfar grew up in war-torn Middle East; his family was driven from Palestine. When he was eighteen he came to the United States and currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma. He travels the world taking color photographs with his 4x5 large format camera. Khanfar published his first book, Voices of Light, in 2000. It is a collection of landscapes taken from his travels. In 2001 he found himself stranded in London on September 11. Unable to return home he began writing, often through the night and into the morning. He stated, early in his life, “I have chosen to carry my camera instead of a gun and promote peace around the world; I believe peace is a finer horse to ride than violence.” September 11 proved to arouse that passion again and Khanfar began a pursuit to photograph peace. In 2006, In Search of Peace, was finally published. He writes, “I felt there was an emotional storm inside me that never touched down. I wrote on papers that seemed to be drinking all the ink I could offer. I could feel every stroke of my pen weeping the dark tears into the white pages, searching for the truth.” The words that Khanfar wrote seemed to drive away the madness that was swelling within him. Later the madness was quieted again with images.
Yousef Khanfar, Edmond, Glow, USA, Photography “So, let the peace glow on all mankind, as though there were no divine, and let the divine glow on peace, as though there were no mankind.”
For the next several years Khanfar photographed landscapes that verbalized peace. His book is divided into three movements that he describes as a visual symphony: sublime, freedom and divine. One of my favorite images is titled Souls. Fog begins to envelop the elongated base of dark trees. Dots of green grass and vines start to pop up from the earth floor. How appropriate that Khanfar uses trees to represent souls. A tree weathers storms and drought, heat and cold and is born again each spring. The photographs do not need words because they communicate on their own. They speak peace, joy, appreciation for the beauty this earth gives, and takes away all anxiety, fear and hate. He accomplished his goal. How do we give this book to everyone in the world? Yousef Khanfar has been recognized as one of the world’s top photographers and a selection of the images from the book will be on exhibit at the Fine Arts Institute in Edmond with an opening and book signing on September 6 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. In Search of Peace recently received the 2007 IP Award for Outstanding Book of the Year in the “Most Life Changing” category. The Fine Arts Institute is located at 27 East Edwards in Edmond. To learn more about Yousef Khanfar and his work visit his website at www.yousefkhanfar.com. ■
Yousef Khanfar, Edmond, Blossom, USA, Photography
About the Author: Lori Oden is the Executive Director of the Paseo Artists Association. She is also an accomplished photographer, specializing in nineteenth century processes. Oden can be contacted at email@example.com.
(left) Nathan Opp, Tulsa, Separate Lives, Oil on Linen, 68”x42”
(right) Nathan Opp, Tulsa, Pass Through, Oil on Canvas, 56”x49”
Intimate Spaces by Nathan Opp by Janice McCormick As Nathan Opp’s exhibit Intimate Spaces at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery in August demonstrates, it is within the confines of the bedroom and kitchen that, paradoxically, a lack of intimacy stands out most clearly. The play of light across surfaces, the placement of ordinary objects, reflections in mirrors and glass, and the architectural features all work together to create a zigzagging movement through his compositional spaces, thereby subtly capturing the tension between the couples depicted. What Opp captures is the sense of being isolated, of each individual quietly withdrawing into the self and concomitantly putting a psychical distance between the self and the other. In the kitchen scene of Pass Through, Opp plays the meaning of the architectural description (of the title) off against the visual image. In architectural terms, a “pass through” is a connecting opening through which the prepared food can be handed to where it will be consumed. Visually, however, due to the slightly elevated vantage point from
which we look down on the scene, the dark brown cabinets over the counter cut off this connection. In fact, the male cook’s head is cut off from direct view, it can only be seen as a rather indistinct reflection in the microwave’s glass door. Furthermore, there is a sharp contrast in the level of activity each one is engaged in: the cook works busily at the sink while the woman sits inert, her right arm rests on the counter and the left one rests on her thigh. The female’s vacant gaze off to the side further adds to this interpersonal disconnect. A pair of green pears on the window sill serves as counterpoint to the empty seat in the foreground, suggesting what is lacking. Another work, tentatively called Heated, is also set in the kitchen but it conveys a clearer narrative than Pass Through. Here, the two figures in the foreground are almost uncomfortably close to the viewer. The large format of the painting places the viewer on the same level with those depicted. The result is a sense of interrupting their argument. Indeed, you find yourself taking sides with the woman in the
Nathan Opp, Tulsa She Knew, Oil on Canvas 36”x42”
imagined heated discussion as you recognize the rude blue of the lit up cell phone held by the man. The irony is not lost: that which connects two people over a long distance serves to disconnect the two people occupying the same room! In Separate Lives the stark contrast between the fairly dark figure of a young man outlined against the lit up closet grabs your attention initially. He stands on one leg, bending over as he tugs at his pant leg, like a question mark. Behind him is a bed, covered with a muted red blanket. He seems to be the only occupant in this bedroom. Gradually, as if growing accustomed to the darkened room, the eye follows the diagonal line of the light bluish-grey sheet from the lower left-hand corner up to his lower leg, across the soft grey threshold of the closet to a relatively bright grey spot and red strip on the open door. You recognize that this is a reflection of the bed in a full-length mirror attached to the door. It is only now in that indirect reflected vision that you make out a second figure, only her head is left uncovered by the red blanket. Now the narrative becomes clearer: he is dressing or undressing by the light of the closet light so as to not wake the other person asleep in bed. Either way her
presence does not relieve his solitude. The dark green of the walls, the muted red and the various shades of gray create a somber mood. As these works show, Opp portrays alienation, of separation, not as a highly theatrical, angst-ridden affair, but rather a quiet, mundane situation that creeps up on you. But don’t let this ordinariness mislead you into overlooking the paradox at the heart of Opp’s work. The very places where you expect intimacy - sexual intimacy in the bedroom and the communal breaking of bread in the kitchen - is where you experience its profound absence. ■ About the Author: Janice McCormick has been writing extensively about art in Tulsa and Oklahoma since 1989. She is a long time volunteer for the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition. Currently, she is teaching philosophy part-time at Tulsa Community College.
rev iew (far right) Artist Joshua Kramb with a young art lover at the Weatherford Library (top left) Artist Joshua Kramb with children at the Weatherford Library (bottom left) Visiting Artist Program Director E.K. Jeong, Visiting Artist Carmen Lizardo and Linda Hays, a member of the Weatherford Arts Council, stand with a work by Lizardo
Sought-after Artists in Red Dirt, Oklahoma by Trent Lawson I had the opportunity and pleasure to spend some time with Carmen Lizardo and Joshua Kramb during their stay at the Visiting Artist Program in Weatherford, Oklahoma. The artists gave lectures, demonstrated their process, and were around to meet-n-greet and get to know. On Wednesday, Kramb spoke at the downtown library about his process to a group of eager children who each had their favorite piece and made suggestions for titles of each of Kramb’s “Untitled” works. In the evening, a reception for the artist was held, during which Josh gave a more detailed lecture with a slideshow. His program showed the evolution of his artwork and thought process: from an interest in jazz music - noticing how a musician and his instrument, his tool, were connected and really of one body - to tracing the outlines of people, trying to capture their likeness in the simplest of forms - to overlapping lines of traced tools and objects, creating an abstract, almost biological form. These simple black and white line drawings then took another step into color, and became his latest work, which was on display in the gallery on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Thursday dawned, and with it a spontaneous, collaborative, earthworks drawing in the Oklahoma red dirt. Carmen Lizardo had been taken with the sight of one of our native trademarks and was just itching to get out and create something with it. A patch of red earth was all it took. Grabbing a stick, Carmen started making lines and smoothing the dirt. Josh then took over creating a circle and mirrored figure outlines that he colored with crushed pastels. Meanwhile, Lizardo took a cup of dirt and went to take some self-portraits with the mud smeared on her face. The photos were then slightly manipulated digitally with overlays of an Oklahoma map on one and the Trail of Tears on another. These photos
were printed on a large scale, each being over four feet square, and hung for the reception that evening. That afternoon, Kramb led another talk at the library (being so popular the first time) and brought a roll of paper in order to trace the outlines of the kids – both demonstrating and involving the children in his artistic process. A second artist’s reception was held, and it was Carmen’s turn to speak. Her work is a little harder to pin down. Primarily a photographer, Lizardo’s work is very personal, ranging from feelings about being a mother to her place in this society, using herself as model and subject. Her newest work deals with her patriotism, thinking back to the time when she became a citizen of the United States, considering it more of a home than the Dominican Republic, where she lived until she was 19. Some of this series was on display in the gallery, work done on punch cards. They can feel a little lonely, usually being a solitary image in the center of lines of ordered numbers. The Visiting Artist Program is fairly new, but shows great promise in promoting and encouraging the artistic and cultural experience in Small Town, OK. Other artists for upcoming events are international artist Ja-Hong Ku, Corazon Watkins from Norman, OK, and Thomas Fielder from New York. Keep your eye out this fall for the next series. For more information about the program, contact EK Jeong, (580) 774-3035, or firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ About the Author: Trent Lawson is a mixed media painter working out of Oklahoma City. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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