VisionMakers: Artist Interview with Ron du Bois

VisionMakers 2009 features 37 Oklahoma artists working in three-dimensional and high craft media.

Guest blogger romy owens has done mini-interviews with many of the featured artists. Check back here during the run of the VisionMakers exhibition for insights into the world of these artists.

VisionMakers 2009 is on exhibit at Six11 Creative, 611 N Broadway in Oklahoma City. Today is the last day of the exhibition! Tonight, from 6-7pm, several of the award-winning artists will give brief talks about their work. The artist talks are free and open to the public.

romy owens: How long have you been an artist?
Ron du Bois: Well, I’m 83 now. I knew I wanted to be an “artist” from about the age of five, so the answer to your question would be 78 years! Teachers knew very little about art education at that time. Children grew up without much emphasis on individual expression. I drew things around me as descriptively as I could. In WWll I was an army artist. My ability to draw descriptively probably saved my life.

ro: What is your preferred media for your artwork, and why?
RdB: My primary medium of expression is clay, but when I retired I no longer had access to the equipment and space necessary to work with clay. I decided to work with wood which could be formed with far simpler equipment and processes.

ro: Is this your first year in Vision Makers?
RdB: This is my first year in Vision Makers. I submitted once before but did not make it.

ro: How does an exhibition like Vision Makers affect your art and/or career?
RdB: Well, it’s real encouragement. Regardless of how old an artist is continuing recognition is important. My wood sculptures are really prototypes for bronze. Recognition might encourage someone to pay the bill for transformation to bronze. Is this unrealistic?

ro: Who or what are your primary artistic influences?
RdB: African art, the cubists, expressionists, the leaders and researchers into in 20th century non objective pure form. While at OSU I introduced the first course in African art to be taught in Okahoma. When I retired in 1986, unfortunately, it was no longer taught.

ro: What challenges do you face in making art?
RdB: Ignorance. Hubris. Lack of extrinsic rewards. A culture that values the arts is essential to humanistic education, to the understanding of the arts and religions of the world, the promotion of exclusive rather than inclusive ideology, etc. I have tried with complete lack of success to convince the university to support a memorial gallery to hold the work of important deceased art faculty. Our culture with its devaluation of the arts is at odds with those of other nations.

ro: Where can people you don’t know see more of your artwork?
RdB: Well, my house is full of art from Korea , India, and Nigeria, as well as my own work. I have been fortunate to have been awarded three Fulbright grants to those countries and to bring back good specimens. Perhaps I am best known for my educational documentaries of clay craftsmen and women from Korea, India, and Nigeria, “Potters of the World Film/ DVD Series”. They can be found on-line. But my yard is full of both fence modules and free standing sculptures.

Reading: Copyrights

On the flip side of the artist producer of content, how do you know if your use of an image is appropriate? This article from OK legal firm McAfee & Taft gives insight into copyrights from the user perspective, useful also for creator.

Guest Artist: Stuart Asprey

Our intrepid intern Ryan Pack (RP) is querying artist members about business of art tips. Watch on Mondays for new artist interviews. This week’s query is to Stuart Asprey from Norman. His work is featured in the VisionMakers exhibition, gallery hours are noon-6 pm Th-Sat through April 30, 611 N Broadway. Aprey will speak about his work as a part of the VisionMakers award winner panel at 6 pm, April 30. Free to the public.

RP: Stuart, how do you think your specific style developed? What are some inspirations for your art?
SA: Those are great questions because as a kid I was never one who dreamed of being an artist. Not that I wasn’t playing with crayons and making clay dinosaurs but I didn’t really take art as a career seriously until I got into grad school. Instead, ceramics and art classes in high school and college were always something that I simply enjoyed. It really made me happy to get into the different labs to use my hands and create stuff. The eventual absorbing of knowledge, ideas and personal style just kind of seeped in after immersing myself in the medium.

I do remember the moment when my undergrad professor (Louis Marak) introduced me to Robert Arneson, David Gilholly, Clayton Bailey, Richard Shaw and the rest of the California Funk ceramists. The work they were making reminded me of three-dimensional comic books and it had a sense of humor to boot! I also like the idea that ceramic art history was very different than “normal” art history. It has a long period of time elapsed from the early ritual effigies of eastern Europe and incipient Joman pottery of Japan to the time when ceramics became considered an art form rather than a craft (roughly 1950).

As for a “specific style”, it slowly evolved from an early rejection of the functional utilitarianism concept (for example, when I received my first teapot assignment, I cut huge holes in both sides of one teapot and made a plate with a painting of a teapot on the other) to a broader acceptance of the history and tradition associated with ceramics. I now take that belief and combine it with an anal-retentive approach to surface decoration and a love for storytelling.

The recent stimulation comes pouring in from everywhere. I am looking at artists like Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, Sergei Isupov, Russell Biles, Russell Wrankle, Richard Notkin, and (as always) Robert Crumb. Most of the inspiration stems from non-art related sources. Things like documentaries, books, movies, fortunes in fortune cookies, weird stories on the TV & radio, walking around Wal-Mart, politics, looking in the gutter, traveling and lots of doodling in sketch books. Juried shows (and the inevitable acceptance or rejection) are another source of motivation. They encourage me to continually compete and measure or compare myself to other contemporary artists (adverse side effect of playing sports year round until 23 years of age).

VisionMakers: Artist Interview with Bob Hawks


VisionMakers 2009 features 37 Oklahoma artists working in three-dimensional and high craft media.

Guest blogger romy owens has done mini-interviews with many of the featured artists. Check back here during the run of the VisionMakers exhibition for insights into the world of these artists.

VisionMakers 2009 is on exhibit at Six11 Creative, 611 N Broadway in Oklahoma City. It will run through April 30 and is open Thursday-Saturday, noon-6pm.

romy owens: How long have you been an artist?
Robert Hawks: 20 years.

ro: What is your preferred media for your artwork, and why?
RH: Wood. I have always loved working with wood

ro: Is this your first year in Vision Makers?
RH: No. 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2006.

ro: How does an exhibition like Vision Makers affect your art and/or career?
RH: It is stimulating to see work by other artists.

ro: What challenges do you face in making art?
RH: Wood is always changing and moving and it is challenging to keep it under control.

ro: Where can people you don’t know see more of your artwork?
RH: At my studio.

VisionMakers: Artist Interview with Janet Shipley Hawks

VisionMakers 2009 features 37 Oklahoma artists working in three-dimensional and high craft media.

Guest blogger romy owens has done mini-interviews with many of the featured artists. Check back here during the run of the VisionMakers exhibition for insights into the world of these artists.

VisionMakers 2009 is on exhibit at Six11 Creative, 611 N Broadway in Oklahoma City. It will run through April 30 and is open Thursday-Saturday, noon-6pm.

romy owens: How long have you been an artist?
Janet Shipley Hawks: I think I’ve been a fiber artist since I first learned to sew on buttons at age 4 and knit at age 6 but only “fulll-time” in the last 10 years.

ro: What is your preferred media for your artwork, and why?
JSH: I’m a Fiber artist who was never successful with the “drawing and painting” artwork but could always use fibers to “create”. Though I’ve used sewing, knitting, weaving, macrame’, crochet and quilting, I’m now working on developing my “Sculpted Threads” technique even more.

ro: Is this your first year in Vision Makers?
JSH: I had quilted pieces in Vision Makers in 1989 and 2002. In 2006 my first Sculpted Threads vessel was accepted and this year it’s one of my “undersea” thread creations.

ro: How does an exhibition like Vision Makers affect your art and/or career?
JSH: Having a piece of my work accepted for Visionmakers is a real affirmation for my creations. It is a real stimulus to be recognized by a juror who probably hasn’t seen my work previously. Friends and family are always supportive, but when it comes from the larger art world it’s very rewarding and gives me the impetus to continue.

ro: Who or what are your primary artistic influences?
JSH: I’m influenced by the colors in nature and the forms that emerge from my sewing machine. As I work I am constantly analyzing and wondering what would happen if I—- combined these colors or stitched in this manner?

ro: What challenges do you face in making art?
JSH: Time! Sculpted Threads is a part of my life, but so is my home, garden and family which must share my time!

ro: Where can people you don’t know see more of your artwork?
JSH: www.sculptedthreads.com

Events: Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts

OVAC intern Maria Glover visited the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts on Opening Day. Here’s her report:

Festival of the Arts is Here!

If you haven’t already checked out the annual Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts you’re definitely missing out! The mixture of art and food is a perfect combination for a day or night out on the town.

I ventured out Tuesday around 11 am on Hudson Street and it was packed with art lovers and workers on lunch break. Festival goers appeared to have fun with the impressive sculptures on the Stage Center’s lawn as they played around and took pictures. The vendors are also an exciting element of the festival. I walked cautiously over to each trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t be suckered into buying anything. My will power did not last, and I bought the most beautiful baked clay hand-crafted candle holder with colored crushed glass in the center. To my surprise, I also found artists selling original crafted jewelry (one of my many obsessions!). I managed not to buy anything but “window shopping” was fun.

So, there’s the art but of course this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the food. There are so many food tents that whatever you’re craving you’re bound to find something you’ll love. I found my favorite, a scrumptious gyro, and enjoyed a good eat while I continued browsing through the art vendors. It can’t get better than that!

If you love art, jewelry, unusual crafted pottery, great food etc., you’ll love the Festival of the Arts. So go check it out – it lasts until April 26th, open from 11 am to 9pm. Enjoy! -Maria

News Alert!: Artist-Museum Partnership Act Introduced in House and Senate

This is exciting news for artists! As things are now, when an artist makes a charitable donation of artwork, they only get a tax deduction for the cost of the materials used to create the art rather than the fair market value of the art. This Act could change this to allow artists a deduction for the real value of the art. This applies not only to visual art but also to literature, music and scholarly compositions.

From the College Art Association’s site:
The Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2009, legislation introduced in both houses of Congress, would allow a fair-market-value tax deduction for charitable contributions of literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions to collecting institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives. At present, a donating artist, writer, or composer can only deduct the cost of materials used to create the work, which is not a fair incentive to donate and also hurts the missions of public and nonprofit institutions nationwide to increase public access to these unique creations.

The sponsors of the bill—Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) for S 405 and Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Todd Platts (R-PA) for HR 1126—hope that past enthusiasm for such legislation will grow in the current 111th Congress. Although similar Senate bills have passed five times in previous years, the House version of the bill in the 110th Congress had 111 cosponsors. Now that a new Congress is underway, more cosponsors are needed to help advance the bill.

The American Association of Museums has worked with the Association of Art Museum Directors to provide a draft letter that you can use to encourage your federal lawmakers to cosponsor the bill. With your help, this important legislation for both artists and institutions can move forward.

Reading: Rejection and Art juries

Curious about the mindset behind the jury of your recent art festival or exhibition, look at this discussion (at time heated) about transparency, submission fees, and getting feedback. OVAC constantly strives to be open about our selection processes– be sure to ask if you want to know about how any of our programs work. I’ve never had artists ask how guest curators view images, what we send with the images (usually a list with all caption info), or about submission numbers. We are glad to share the process with those submitting.

We also are glad to offer so many open call opportunities and endeavor to help artists get feedback when possible, but for some programs it’s hard for us to get artists comments. For instance, we had 199 artists submit to Momentum. I am not sure how long it would have taken for the curators to write notes about each piece submitted, but even if 2 minutes per that would be 6 hours! They already spent a half day looking at the work and narrowing down the selections. I hope artists are able to find personalized feedback from friends, critiques and artist groups.

Thanks to Alyson Stanfield for sending this link via Twitter.

Money for Artists: OVAC Fellowships

Each year, OVAC offers the Visual Arts Fellowships – two awards of $5,000 each for Oklahoma artists. The call for entries for the 2009 Fellowship is out now! New this year, we’re also offering two Student Awards of Excellence at $500 each.

These awards are based on past achievement and future promise and the money can be used as the artist needs.

If you are an Oklahoma artist, you should apply for these awards EVERY YEAR! Besides getting a chance at a significant award, it also serves as your annual reminder to update your resume, revisit your artist statement and freshen up your art images. And, if you’re an OVAC member, it’s free to apply. The deadline is May 1.

Here’s what you need:
-Resume
-Artist Statement
-Artwork samples (10 images)
-Typed image list
-Completed entry form

That’s it! The full call for entries is available here.

Guest Artist: Amanda Bradway

Our intrepid intern Ryan Pack (RP) is querying artist members about business of art tips. Watch on Mondays for new artist interviews. This week’s query is to Amanda Bradway

RP: Amanda, you are pretty involved in the art scene in the Plaza District. I think it’s a really exciting time to be an artist in that area. It seems like there are so many new opportunities being created. I guess people are finally getting tired of the mall. So my question is: What are your thoughts on the art scene in your area?

AB: Absolutely right on! I remember looking for places to put my work when I was just starting out and you really had to look for places willing to put up your work. Especially if it was “weird”. Now it seems typical and people actually embrace the weirdness. I’ve seen 70 year old women buy fat naked monster ladies and skull paintings. Something I thought I would never see in Oklahoma. I’ve felt this excitement as well for the past 3 years especially. The times are changing. I don’t know of any state that offers things like Momentum, you know?

Our area is full of unique opportunities for artists! In addition to having stores that carry local artists goods, the property owners are all creating live/work spaces for artists and artisans. This is a great way for them to make a living without breaking their budget. Having a storefront that people can come in to view works and interact with the actual artist in their own home, is something I’m pretty sure no other district offers. We are experiencing major changes up and down the block as storefronts are leasing. People come in every day to ask about the properties and happenings in the Plaza. We are fast becoming a district where young, emergent and fresh ideas are embraced and put to work. The energy is the same everywhere you go down here, the anticipation of something new and ground breaking in an area once known for drugs and prostitution. We personally are so excited to embrace, introduce and expose newer artists to the city. Where once people just shook their heads and may have said “Well that’s weird”, we are now seeing the public embrace and enjoy the different qualities these works have to offer. Many are so excited to see different works that have never had an opportunity for much exposure in Oklahoma City. The Plaza hopes to be an area where people can come to check out handmade locally produced goods and alternative art.