Photographing Artwork to Reach New Audiences: Michael J. Wilson

Michael Wilson, Self Portrait as a Capacitor,
monotype & oil on paper, 40″32″
Norman artist Michael Wilson received an OVAC Professional Basics Grant to help her prepare portfolios for presentation to galleries. The grant will help her purchase a professional quality camera to document her work. 
Wilson has career goals to find gallery representation and connect with galleries nationwide. She understands the importance of high quality, high resolution images to fully convey her mixed media monotypes.
Michael Wilson, Ohio,
monotype, 22″x30″
She wrote about her work, “I use drawn, painted, or photographed images of things from the real world and rearrange them to reveal alternate meanings.  My work deals with personal psychology, I depict the landscape of my mind.  I am interested in individual identity and capturing the raw emotion of what it feels like to be alive. This sense is reflected in elements of line, organization and color, something I connect with at a deep personal level.”

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here

Capturing & Conserving the Illinois River: Photographer Kim Baker

Kim Baker, Meeker
Kim Baker, Illinois River from Goat’s Bluff, Photograph

Combining her passion for the conservation of Oklahoma rivers with her vocation of photography, Kim Baker is collaboratively making a book and exhibition focused on the Illinois River. Baker received an OVAC Community Partnership Grant to assist with the project.

Baker’s and 10 other artists’ photographs will be the core of the book and exhibition, which also will include essays exploring the history and ecology of the river. The group expects the books release in October 2011 with exhibitions in multiple venues in the spring and summer.
Mike Fuhr, Tributary of the Illinois River, within Cedar 
Hollow on the Nickel Preserve, Photograph
Baker said her photography has changed from serving solely to capture nature into working to conserve natural environments.  She said, “My goal is to encourage conservation and preservation of one of Oklahoma’s most beloved and ecologically rich rivers in order that future generations can enjoy the benefits of the river as well.”

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here

Artists Collaborate to Show "Beneath the Surface"

Janice Matthews-Gordon, Full Circle, Acrylic/Mixed Media Collage, 24” x 24”

Finding commonalities in their artwork and career goals, four Oklahoma City artists teamed up to develop a traveling exhibition entitled, Beneath the Surface. Gayle Curry, Natalie Friedman, Janice Matthews-Gordon and Diana J. Smith received an OVAC Professional Basics Grant to assist with the preparations for the exhibition.
Natalie Friedman, Kimiko’s Garden, Fabric/Mixed Media, 30” x 24”
Their proposal states that they collaborate to support each other and challenge themselves professionally. “With each artist bringing a different skill set to the table, we knew we could create a larger show as well as inspire each other with our unique views,” they wrote. “Our collective goal is to expose the latent elements of nature, and to express them in our respective mixed media styles.”
Debuting at Individual Artist of Oklahoma Gallery October 14, 2011, the exhibition also will show at Leslie Powell Gallery in Lawton in 2012. They are seeking additional venues.  A catalog will be produced featuring artwork, artist information and an essay.  

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here

100 Paintings in a Year: A Portrait of Okmulgee by Anne Spoon

Anne Spoon, Okmulgee
Anne Spoon, Portrait of Sarah, oil on canvas
Opening her studio to the community, Anne Spoon will paint 100 oil portraits of her fellow Okmulgee residents over the next year.  Envisioned as a public project, Spoon will make a downtown store front her studio and allow visitors at all times.  Her project received a Community Arts Partnership Grant from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.
Anne Spoon, Dr. Osborn, who has served more than 30,000 children
in Okmulgee, oil on canvas
As she paints, she will gather audio recordings of those being painted talking about their lives an experiences living in a small Oklahoma town.  At the end of the twelve-month project, she will open an exhibition of all one hundred paintings with an old fashioned ice cream social.  She hopes the exhibition will travel to other venues also.
Spoon is partnering with the Okmulgee Main Street. Read more about Spoon on her website:

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here

Superheroes: Sharing Resources and Information to Gain Strength

Guest Author: Sue Clancy

In the eon before OVAC existed, I, as a young college art school student, was accepted for representation by a gallery.  I was the youngest, greenest, most wet-behind-the-ears artist they had.  I was awed by the other artists, whom I met at subsequent art openings.  Time passed.  A few of my paintings sold which meant I could afford baloney for my baloney and cheese sandwiches and butter for my macaroni.  I kept the gallery in new paintings. Life was good.
Then one day I had a previously scheduled meeting at the gallery with the gallery director.  I showed up on time and found locked doors, no lights on; there were no paintings or sculptures anywhere to be seen through the windows.  A type-written sign on the door said “Closed due to sudden events. Please call with any questions”.   A phone number followed.  I copied down the number and immediately went to a friend’s home, a more experienced artist, who also had artwork in the same gallery.  We called the number and got a “that number has been disconnected” message.  My wiser artist friend put on her super-hero outfit, complete with cape and boots, and leapt into action.
A group of artists, all former participants in the absconded gallery, instantly formed when my friend put out the signal.  I had eight paintings missing.  Other artist’s had more missing and certainly more expensive works.  Collectively we discussed what to do and decided upon a course of action. Actually, they discussed and decided, I asked questions and watched in awe.  Long story short, the artists who had photos and other data on their now-missing artworks as well as copies of their gallery contracts were in a much better position to recover their artwork than ignorant, newbie me who hadn’t documented a thing.  It was a painful lesson to learn, but learn it, I did, and quickly.

Sue Clancy, Dude Descending a Staircase,  hand dyed hand marbled paper,ink,acrylic

Historically artists had apprenticeships, imperfect as they were, by which a more experienced artist mentored a less experienced artist.  We no longer have such a linear system.  It’s been replaced by group mentoring – or “found” mentoring as I call it – whether by a non-profit group which offers workshops or a formal art school at a university, or a group of books, or a series of on-line webinars or some combination of all of the above.  We even have groups mentoring other groups.  Now there are more ways to find and utilize the people-sharing-with-people strength, whether a formal group or not, than at any other time in history. 

Wisconsin is in the news as I write this.  Personally I don’t care what we call people-helping-people-and-banding-together-for-a-purpose; a non-profit group, a group of friends, a hobby group, a school, Twitter followers, a blog, a church or even a union.  Whatever it’s called the point is that when we share resources and information we gain strength by it.  No one person can know it all.  Nor can one group.  Sharing is a mutual responsibility.  We each contribute what we can.  We can all be superheroes.

Responding to the Artwork: Momentum Tulsa Curator Brian Hearn

Guest Author: Joey Stipek, Intern
Momentum is an annual exhibition that features Oklahoma artists 30 years and younger, working in all various media including art, film, performance, and large scale installations. Momentum’s mission is to present a diversified look at emerging artistic talent in Oklahoma. The Tulsa version opens 8 p.m. until midnight, October 8th, 2011 at Living Arts, 307 E. Brady in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Guest curators for the Tulsa edition of Momentum are Oklahoma City Museum of Art film curator Brian Hearn along with emerging curator, Tulsa’s Lovetts Gallery director Waylon Summers. The curators selected three artists for Spotlight awards, for which the artists receive $1,750 and three months of curatorial guidance.

I had the honor of communicating with Hearn via e-mail and asking him questions about his thought process as one of the curators behind the Tulsa edition of Momentum. Below is the question and answer session from our conversation.
Brian Hearn participating in OK Art Writing & Curatorial Fellowship workshop
Q: As a curator for this year edition of Momentum, what drew you in particular to the artist’s work you’ve selected?
Brian Hearn: So far we’ve only selected the three Spotlight Artists for Momentum Tulsa, but each of them demonstrates complex ideas in a visually interesting way. Hey emerging artists out there, you’ve got until September 12 to submit!
Q: With both you and Waylon having diverse backgrounds, is there a medium emphasis either one of your chose when selecting the work for Momentum?
BH: Not at all. We both respond to quality work first and foremost. I take into consideration the multiple ways in which the work engages me: visual, intuitive, emotional, intellectual, physical. etc. In curating a show like Momentum there is also an element of “have I seen this before?”
Q: How has your experience been working with emerging curator Waylon Summers?
BH: It’s been very enjoyable. I like the collaborative dialogue in curating this show. Waylon is very thoughtful and has a keen eye. His experience working in a commercial art gallery is a valuable contrast to my museum background. Though we’ve mostly agreed, it will be healthy to have some push and pull as we get deeper into the curatorial process.
Q: Can people attending Momentum expect a bigger emphasis on video installations or media?
BH: I doubt it. My sense is that emerging Oklahoma artists are embracing an astonishing array of artistic media. Everything is on the table these days. One of the strengths of Momentum as an art event is that it is broadly inclusive of all 2D and 3D media as well as performance, digital, sound, and installation. The work simply must be good. People attending Momentum Tulsa this year can expect to have fun and experience something new.
Artists may submit to the survey exhibition by September 12. See the call for entries here. Tickets to the October 8 opening party are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at, or by phone at 405-879-2400. Regular gallery hours are free to attend.

Grants Support National Presentation of Artwork: Brenda Dewald

By Steffin Schoeppel, intern
Brenda Dewald, Walnut Wonder, Hand Dyed Kettle Gourd, Pine
Needles, Brown Sinew, Wheat Stitch, Walnut Slices 7 1/2”x9”x9” 
Actively pursuing advanced training and opportunities to meet a national audience, Brenda Dewald, received an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Educational Grant in April and Professional Basics Grant in July.

For her education grant project, she attended classes for three days at the Welburn Gourd Festival in Fallbrook, CA. With the assistance of the grant, Dewald improved her skills, harnessed inspiration and learned from some of the nation’s leading gourd artists.

When interviewed, Dewald spoke anxiously about getting back to work at her studio. “I have a notepad full of ideas and a suitcase full of new equipment to bring my ideas to life. In September, I will be attending the Western Design Conference Show in Jackson Hole, WY. This will be my next opportunity to present my new design elements to the public,” Dewald said.

Being relatively new to the ‘gourd art’ world, but not necessarily new to art. Dewald, who began painting with oils in high school then later experimented with a number of mediums including fiber and other natural based arts forms, stumbled into the field of gourd art. “I quickly realized that I could combine a lot of my learned skills from past art experience into this art medium,” Dewald said. “I submitted my new found gourd art to several juried shows and found that others loved my work just as much as I did and it started selling! I work in my studio almost every day. With each finished piece I see improve and with each day I become more efficient with my time.” 
Brenda Dewald, RosieHand Dyed Tall Body Gourd, Pine Needles,
Natural Sinew, Split Stitch, 
All of Dewald’s devoted studio time and growth in her field is starting to pay off. Prior to going to the festival Dewald submitted photos of her work as entries for the cover of the Welburn Gourd Farm 2011-2012 Catalog competition and her piece titled “Spittoon” was selected for the cover of the new catalog. Catalogs were distributed at the festival and will be used throughout the year by the Welburn Gourd Farm.

Dewald said, “I love taking something that is overlooked and creating something that is beautiful in the eye of the beholder! I must say that a gourd straight out of the field is not a pleasant sight. It’s black with mold and dirt. It can be covered with gourd warts, deep gouges, or sometime it grows in a disfiguring shape. But with a little cleaning and care the gourd begins to develop its own personality and the very traits that were once unattractive become the most attractive and enticing part of the art piece.”

With passion for her art, and gained knowledge from attending the Welburn Gourd Festival, Brenda Dewald continues to grow and strive in her field. To view more of her work, please visit her website

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition provides artist project grants for growing artists’ careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is October 15. Find guidelines and application here