Mobile Gallery Brings Art to You

Guest Author: Joey Stipek, Summer Intern
Michael Benton’s “Mobile Gallery”
Its one thing when a work of art becomes a moving experience for the viewer, however it is quite another when the art itself moves on wheels. 
The Gallery on Sixth owner Michael Benton, along with his wife Janet is carving an artistic experience which hasn’t been done before in either Tulsa or the rest of Oklahoma.  Benton has ordered a special 24ft by 8.5ft by 7ft trailer and is transforming into a mobile art gallery with plans to take the gallery on the road.
Benton and his wife will be taking the gallery within a 150 mile radius of Tulsa to help better promote the arts by bringing the arts into smaller communities that may not have the opportunity to experience them.
Benton said their goal is to help promote Oklahoma artists to the best of their abilities while encouraging emerging artists to flourish and help explore their artistic possibilities.
Joey Stipek: Explain exactly what Mobile Gallery is and what your goal is as far as its place in the Oklahoma artistic community? 
Michael Benton: My definition of a Mobile Gallery is a gallery on wheels that can be taken anywhere and set up in a few minutes. It won’t be affected by the weather, other than a tornado perhaps.

It is completely enclosed from the wind, rain, heat and cold. It is air conditioned, heated and will be wheelchair accessible. As far as its place in the artistic community, it will be a way to get the arts to areas that may not have a gallery. It will promote Oklahoma artist and take them to areas of the city and state they do not have a presence in.
JS: What were the influences behind the idea for the Mobile Gallery? 
MB: We have a permanent gallery at 2207 E. 6th Street just west of Lewis (in Tulsa, OK).  While we have some traffic, it’s not as good as we would like. Advertising today is very expensive and very fleeting. We were looking for something we could utilize long term and get a better return on our investment and have something that would stick in people’s minds.

JS: What kinds of exhibits/works of art in particular will be on display in the Mobile Gallery?
MB: Our artisan’s work in jewelry, they are glass blowers, wood turners, ceramists and potters, carvers and engravers, fabric, dolls, as well as painters, photographers and other forms of 2D art. 

The mobile gallery will be finished inside to where on occasion we can pull the shelving and show strictly 2D works. We want to set up a program by which we can decorate offices and restaurants with works by our artisans and take the mobile gallery around and let the establishments pick the works they would like to show. People can purchase the works at which time TGOS would handle the transaction and then replace the piece sold.
Michael Benton, Tulsa with an Art Deco Theme, Walnut burl,
Ribbon Sapel, Mappa Burl & Anigre 
JS: Do you feel smaller towns in Oklahoma have a negative cultural stigma attached to it as far as an appreciation for the arts? 
MB: I don’t know that I would call it a stigma, but I definitely know first hand the importance of exposure to the arts. Smaller communities do not generally have the resources or demand to support a gallery on a full time basis. By being mobile, we can go into a community for a day and move on. Perhaps set up a schedule to where the mobile gallery can come back on a regular basis and it becomes a part of the community.
JS:  Why is it important than smaller communities outside of Tulsa view the arts? 
MB: I grew up in small towns all over Oklahoma, my father was a Methodist minister so we moved a lot and most of the towns we lived in were under a population of 10,000, most under 5,000. I had a little exposure to art in high school in Forgan, Oklahoma because of a particular teacher I had there, but other than that, not much. 
It wasn’t until I moved to Tulsa and had the opportunity to travel around the world I started to appreciate art and fine craft. Had we had something like this in one of the towns I lived in, perhaps I would have got into the arts a lot sooner. If we can expose young people and older citizens as well to the arts and fine crafts, who knows what kind of artists will emerge.
Benton said he is anxious to show everyone the finished product once it is complete.  The Gallery on Sixth’s goal is to have the mobile gallery ready and on the road by the end of July. The Gallery on Sixth is located at 2207 E. 6th St in Tulsa, OK. For more information on events or sponsorship for the mobile gallery call 918-694-8467 or e-mail. Current exhibitors are being shown at The Gallery on Sixth at  

Avoid the Soul-Sucking Job: Artist Kendall Brown’s Advice

What happens when artists stop making art? In this blog series, we hear from artists who have restarted making art after a hiatus and how they got back into their studio practice.  

Artist Kendall Brown with kids

Kendall Brown, Norman 
After finishing my time at OU, to make ends meet I took a soul-sucking state job and promised myself even though it wasn’t a job in the arts, I’d still create. I’d still be an artist on the side, until something better came along.

I was wrong.

For an entire year I languished doing a job I hated, making excuses for why I hadn’t produced work since my capstone documentary project on HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma. I had a lot (I mean a LOT) of excuses. I didn’t have the money to travel and do documentary work. My dog broke all but one of my lenses. I didn’t have classes anymore to push me to produce or be better.

I was so discouraged, I even stopped looking for a job in the arts. It took making the decision to quit the soul-sucking job with no safety net to force me back into gear. Once I finally got out of my funk, it only took two months for me to land my dream job – Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Norman Transcript.

Now, my life is literally all art, all the time. Spending my days talking to artists that are creating inspires me to go home at night and do the same. After a year long hiatus, I’m working on one documentary project and have another (involving some pretty major travel and the challenge of switching mediums to work in film) in the works.

My advice is this: DON’T, if you can avoid it, take a job you hate. Don’t waste your time. Even if you’re cleaning toilets at an art museum, make sure you’re somewhere surrounded by creativity. Let yourself make your excuses…then tell yourself to shut up and create anyway. Even the work sucks, it sucks less than a year of producing nothing.

Environmental Impact of the Arts: Artist Survival Kit Recap

On July 14, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition partnered with the Oklahoma Museums Association and the Department of Environmental Quality to present a workshop focused on the environmental impact of the artist’s studio and how to make the studio a more “green” place.
The workshop was packed full of information! Below are some guidelines that will hopefully help you to make your studio a safer and more environmentally friendly work space. If you have questions about any of your specific materials or practices, contact the DEQ for advice. Dianne Wilkins is available to help you at 800-869-1400 or by email.
There are a lot of buzz words floating around regarding the environment. So what’s the difference between green and sustainable? Being green means making choices that are environmentally friendly. Sustainability is a broader concept incorporating social, economic and environmental responsibility. Making sustainable choices helps you to reduce costs and remain competitive with other businesses.
  1. Learn about your materials. Know what you’re using, what effects it could have and how to dispose of it. A good tool is the MSDS (material safety data sheet) which is available for nearly any chemical. Find them at or from the vendor/manufacturer of the material. Keep them on hand for all your regularly used chemicals. If the information could impact the care of your work over time, consider sharing it with collectors as well.
  2. Don’t do anything without the right equipment and ventilation. As an artist, you are likely working out of your home, which means you are experiencing long term exposure to your materials. Though you may be working with some industrial materials, OSHA standards do not apply to you because you are not in an industrial setting. You can refer to your MSDS or material warning labels for information about ventilation. If you can smell it, that means the chemical is entering your body. Make sure you are protecting yourself!
  3. Get proper training for your equipment. Make sure you are using all of your equipment properly and taking all safety precautions. Training is available through OSHA classes, equipment vendors, vocational schools, etc.
  4. Get re-trained annually, or whenever your equipment is updated or changed.
  5. Remember to USE the safety equipment ANY time you work. Those safety goggles can’t do much for you if you don’t wear them. Even if you think you are just going to be in the studio for a few minutes, take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.
Aerosol spray Cans: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Liquid Glazes: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Solvent based glues and cements: Safely evaporate; Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Metals with toxic compounds: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Paints, varnishes and stains: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Photochemical: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Plastic Resins: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility
Clay, minerals: Regular garbage
Dyes & Powders: Regular garbage
Water based glues and cements: Allow drying; Regular garbage
Wood and alloys: Construction materials recycling area at landfill
Metals: Scrap metal recycling area at landfill; metals recyclers
Solvents may be reused:
  1. Slowly pour used or dirty solvents through fine steel mesh or coffee filter inserted in a metal funnel and into a receiving can.
  2. Cap and clearly label the container as to what it contains and when it was retrieved.
  3. Package the dirty solvents and chemicals in the filter in separate containers for solvents and filters and take to the Household Hazardous Waste Depot.
This information is meant to serve as a guide only. Please note that the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is for residential use only and may not accept pesticides or paints that contain PCBs. Materials should be in original containers.

TAC’s Tulsa Taboo: More Than Naughty Bits

By Janice McCormick

Untitled, created by the curators of Tulsa Taboo: RC Morrison, Kara Greuel, and Steve Tomlin
The Tulsa Artists’ Coalition call for entries for its Tulsa Taboo asked artists to submit “art that expands boundaries, that asks hard questions, that challenges the status quo.” The resulting juried exhibit proves to be quite diverse, of high aesthetic quality and thought-provoking.  The size of the exhibit (twenty-nine works in all) precludes an in-depth description of each and every one. Hence, this review’s limited aim is to whet the appetite of the reader to come and see how these artists meet this challenge. Tulsa Taboo is on display through July 30th.

The usual “naughty bits” are well represented. Julie Strauss’s shaped copper tubing sculpture High Beams depicts a curvaceous female form, complete with headlights for breasts and a convex mirror for her face. This elegant and witty work in the Art Nouveau style received a Juror’s Choice Award as well as the People’s Choice Award. Clayton Keyes’ ceramic sculpture Circle Jerk consists of ten upwards pointing penises with their testicles, forming a circular enclosure – a sort of sexual Stonehenge celebrating masculine virility. 

Clayton Keyes, Circle Jerk
Political issues cropped in several works. Protest regarding the unjust treatment of Native Americans emerged in two works. Anna Muselmann’s Façade depicts a warrior, whose smiley face hangs askew, revealing his suppressed anger. This work won Best of Show. Talon Micco’s painting Andrew Jackson used the historical portrait of Andrew Jackson, with the word “genocide” painted in red across the bottom.  Red splatters mar the gilded frame. On the local level, John Gaskill skewers the feuding relationship between Tulsa’s mayor Dewey Bartlett and the City Councilors by depicting the politicos torturing one another in his Tulsa Mayor/City Council Coloring Book. Environmental concern meets political satire in Nancy Smart Carlson’s Testing, Testing! Inhofe Testing Worm Holes for Rising Temperatures and Global Warming. This dark cut-away image of the earth reveals a series of meandering worm tracks and a thermometer reading red hot. 

A compact, untitled installation is the result of an anonymous person’s challenge to the art community “…to do something that shows guns and violence should be Taboo.” For two months, this person thrust newspaper and magazine articles on this theme through TAC’s mail slot. The three curators (RC Morrison, Kara Greuel, and Steve Tomlin) decided that they themselves would turn this private cry from the heart into a public experience. They spread the articles and magazines across the top of a small desk, inviting the viewer to pour over them and to read the anonymous person’s annotated comments and underscored phrases, such as “GUNS – GUNS – GUNS,” “Home Invasion,” “Police gun deaths increase in 2009” and “lax laws feed the illegal gun trade.” The desk lamp symbolically shines a light on an issue that many would rather ignore. A pair of scissors and a tape dispenser encourage the viewer to imaginatively cut out more articles and tape them together, thereby making this issue their own. Even more magazines in a partially opened drawer suggest that gun violence will only escalate unless society does something about it.

As these works illustrate, Tulsa Taboo is not to be missed. The gallery is located at 9 East Brady in Tulsa. Its hours are 6pm to 9pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  

Find a Quicker Artistic Medium: Margaret Aycock’s Answer to Lack of Time

What happens when artists stop making art? In this blog series, we hear from artists who have restarted making art after a hiatus and how they got back into their studio practice.  

Margaret Aycock leading workshop for community art project

Margaret Aycock, Tulsa

When I first started having children I had to let the painting go for a while.  I had to find a creative outlet that allowed me to stop in midstream and pick up where I left off after someone was fed, diapered, played with etc.  During that time I picked up stained glass, quilting, crocheting and crafts.  None of those things required a concentrated block of time and all of them could be picked up and put down without breaking the creative process.  

All of those things became useful later in life as I transferred my skills in stained glass to mosaics (Tulsa Spirit Monument ) I now use my skills in needlework and crafts to my artist residency at Hillcrest Hospital.  I taught two girls to crochet today and one girl to knit. I also work with children and families to do craft workshops at the Gilcrease Museum.

As creative people, I think that we all find something to do in those dry spells that is still creative.  It may be that we pick up crafts, gardening, cooking, woodworking etc, but we get to take all those skills with us into the future so don’t worry, be happy, and continue the creative journey!

Margee Aycock is an oil Painter, oil painting teacher, workshop leader at Gilcrease Museum, arts facilitator through Tulsa’s Arts and Humanities Coucil’s Artist in the Schools and Parks programs and Artist in Residence at Hillcrest Kaiser Rehab and Women’s Center. 

Intensive Painting in Retirement: Eric Spiegel’s Answer to Long Artistic Hiatus

What happens when artists stop making art? In this blog series, we hear from artists who have restarted making art after a hiatus and how they got back into their studio practice.  

Eric Spiegel at his easel

Eric Spiegel, Choctaw

Julia Kirt: What caused your hiatus and how long were you not making art?
Eric Spiegel: I was an active artist as a teenager and studied at an evening school for about two years. I was eventually drafted in the military for the Vietnam War.
From that point on, I had no time to sit down and paint which is my medium of choice. Between my being  drafted and returning to the US four years later, I went back to college for a degree in chemistry and then a second degree in Pharmacy. I was asked to return to the military as an officer and decided it was a good career for my wife and son.
Around 1991 when I decided that I would be retiring from the military, I started taking workshops from some of the modern well-known painters of today. I retired in 1997, and eventually moved to France to study art on a full-time basis.  I spent over six years in a private atelier and lived in France until 2008. 
JK: Did you continue making artwork at all during that time?
ES: While spending my time and days in military life, I did not have the time or materials to paint.  I did have a few drawing pencils in a little tin and set up still life items to keep my drawing skills. But honestly it was not very frequent.
JK: Did you miss your studio practice?
ES: I missed terribly not being able to home squeeze out some paint and grab a canvas and get to work, I was frustrated many times, but I would return to these artist homes or ateliers near me and keep their work in my head and heart, knowing that one day I would be able to have my own studio and paint whatever excited me. I would usually go to the local museums in each country where I was stationed and that kept stimulating me to keep thinking about painting again… For example, William A. Bouguereau taught in the Academie Julian  in Paris, but he was born and raised in town far from Paris (La Rochelle) close to the ocean. There is very nice museum of his early work, both complete paintings and some incomplete work… and so many others kept my mind going when my hands didn’t have brushes and paints.
JK: How did you restart your art making? 
ES: In 2000 I stopped working as a pharmacist and moved to France, not only to study privately, but also to paint on my own. I went to every outdoor and indoor art show in France within 100 miles of my home. I showed my work in galleries and in many Chateaux in the Loire Valley. I was doing what I liked and sold paintings as well. My wife and I didn’t come back to the US because we wanted father called one day and told us that he was diagnosed with vascualr dementia and asked me if I would come home to eventually take care of him. I returned [to Oklahoma] as an oil painter with a wealth of knowledge in 2008 and have been working in my own studio since that time.