Cross Country Together: Amanda & Dylan Bradway

Amanda Bradway, Sacred Symmetry (1 of 3), 11”x11”,
Watercolor, Folded Watercolor Paper, Animal Skull on Wood
Needing help transporting new artwork cross country to exhibit in Portland, Oregon, Oklahoma City artists Amanda and Dylan Bradway received an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Creative Projects Grant to assist with their expenses. 

The Bradways worked together to prepare their show at TheHellion Gallery, which features their individual art arranged equally with collaborative site specific elements. Dylan and Amanda collaborate on many projects such as running their popular DNA Galleries in The Plaza District.  Their lives and artistic style intertwine smoothly this exhibition.
Dylan Bradway, Flights To Come, 12”x30”,
Found Wood, Acrylic, Spray Paint, Ink & Graphite
Besides their work fitting well with the style of art presented at The Hellion Gallery, the artists were especially eager about this gallery since it has additional spaces in San Diego, CA, and Tokyo, Japan.
Amanda & Dylan Bradway’s exhibition installed at The Hellion Gallery
After many exhibitions in Oklahoma and a few in other communities, the Bradways expressed enthusiasm about developing a relationship with a gallery that represents many established artists within their chosen genre.

The exhibition is on display for a few more days. You can see more about their artwork here: Amandaor Dylan.

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

Mental Toughness & Music: Danny Marroquin’s Film

Guest Author: Laura Reese, OVAC Intern

You might not know who Jabee Williams and John Fullbright are, but you should, and you will, according to Danny Marroquin.  Marroquin’s upcoming film project Skywriters details these two musicians and their lives in and out of music. 

Featured musician John Fullbright (L) with soundman Royce Sharp

John Fullbright is a folk singer and songwriter, whose intensity attracted Marroquin. Fullbright covers standards from greats of different eras and writes his own songs ranging from anthems and tender lullabies to songs protesting war; everything from the folk singer-songwriter tradition. Fullbright’s appreciation for and attempt to take in a whole genre of music is what drew Marroquin to feature him; “he is a student, and I’ve always held a very high esteem for education.”

Featured musician  Jabee Williams (middle), with cameraman Joe Cappa

In contrast, Jabee Williams is a hip-hop musician from a tough background, having even lost a brother to a gunshot wound. Yet, says Marroquin, “Jabee is constantly drawing from a rugged experience to make sweet music and tough music.” And he also works as a mentor on Wednesdays at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Marroquins says “every time a guy like Jabee comes along he reminds you of how much an impact one can have when they take part in the lives of others.”

As different as these two artists may sound, Marroquin “detected a same mental toughness” in both. Skywriters is an attempt not to contrast them, but rather to reveal the unexpected similarities in their two journeys “ We want to bring the viewer into two other lives as they find meaning through music ” says Marroquin. Marroquin received an OVAC Creative Projects Grant given in order to fund the completion of his film  Skywriters. Check out the trailer and stay posted on where you can see  Skywriters.

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

Business Resources: For the Skeptical Artist

Artist Survival Kit workshop participants
learning business strategies

Earlier on the blog I introduced the importance of small business resources for artists. I promised to summarize some of the helpful resources available in Oklahoma. 

Today, I write to the skeptical artists who do not see how their artwork can fit with normal business plans or don’t see the value in aligning with organizations like chambers of commerce.   Later, I will offer resources for artists who already understand their artistic practice as a business (and maybe some skeptics will be swayed).

Perhaps you are wondering, “why do I need to know about standard business strategies?”

Basically, thousands of business experts have worked for many years to outline making a business succeed.  Many have devoted lots of brain power and trial and error to define best practices. Many have worked to improve making businesses profitable.

Why duplicate all the effort and make the same mistakes when all this work has already been done for us? Knowledgeable specialists share many of their tips with us for free!
Artist Survival Kit workshop participants Sharon Webster
& Romy Owens learning business strategies
If that doesn’t convince you, certainly you do not want to break the law. Ignorance is not a defense if you neglect to follow tax law, insurance requirements and function well as a legal entity.  You can talk to anyone who has been audited over problems gathering sales tax or sued over a breach of contract to know that it is worth learning the basics for your business.

For the bare bones facts, check out the checklist from the Department of Commerce for startup businesses.  They give simple information about business structure (sole proprietor, S-corp, etc.), licensing and more. 

See here for free workshops by the Oklahoma Tax Commission about business taxes. Also, you can save money as a reseller with a sales tax permit if you buy supplies to make your art that you will later sell (and charge sales tax). 

The Department of Commerce also offers tips for expanding your existing business.

With a few steps and strategies, your small artistic business can be at the least legit and possibly on the road to profit. 

Small Businesses: Speaking the Language

OVAC Intern Laura Reese paints a map of visual artists in Oklahoma
for OK Arts Day (held the same day at Small Business Day

Two things stand out to me from Small Business Day hosted by Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb April 30. First, any start up and growing business can find a wealth of (low cost) resources across our state. Secondly, and most pointedly, there is a huge gap between the way artists normally approach their artistic businesses and the language and strategies many businesses employ.

Neither of these observations surprise me, yet the straightforwardness of the meeting made me pine to simplify artists’ lives. Why can’t artists take advantage of the many ready structures for profitability?

Yes, I know, we want artists to speak another language. Similar to inventors or scientists, artists must risk much with each step forward. Yet capital and profit consistently define boundaries on artists’ practices. So, in the words of a helpful contact at the Department of Commerce’s table, “a business has to run in the black.”

Many artists want to view themselves as separate from the world of commerce and certainly as unique. However, if you want to increase the amount of capital, space, and time available for your artistic practice, you need to follow some standard business strategy. 

Also, by learning the language of business, artists can grow their network and markets.
So, in the next few posts I will outline some of the most helpful resources for small businesses in Oklahoma in hopes that you will learn from the language and wisdom of others’ acumen.  

Final Install: Deedee Morrison’s Sculpture at Southwest OKC Library

As a follow-up to this blog post, we thought our readers would enjoy a look at the completed install of Deedee Morrison’s new public artwork on the grounds of the Southwest Oklahoma City Public Library, 2201 SW 134th St.

Expressing Identity with Art: Public Art by Deedee Morrison

Deedee Morrison, A Matter of Fiction, Fairhope, Alabama

Deedee  Morrison, an artist based in Birmingham, AL, is installing a new piece of public art on the grounds of the Southwest Oklahoma City Library. Morrison will begin installation on May 10, 2012 with an official dedication ceremony to be announced.

The artwork, entitled Borrowed Light, is a kinetic light sculpture created as a metaphor for the many journey’s of enlightenment a reader can take within the pages of a book. The piece is made from 12 sheets of laser cut industrial grade aluminum, which is illuminated from within to achieve a radiant green color at night.

Morrison shared with us a bit about her career and working methods as a public artist. For more information, visit her website at

When and how did you decide to make the leap to large-scale works?
I actually started my work as an artist as a public artist.  I worked as an economist in London for several years out of college, and began taking art classes while I was there.  I would travel to all of the outdoor sculpture parks that helped shaped my vision for public art and how it can inspire – given the right setting and scale for the artwork.

Deedee Morrison, Sun Catcher, Clearwater, Florida
How do you decide what public art commissions to apply for? Are there certain qualities you look for?
The majority of my work comes through the RFP (request for proposals) process.  Cities and Percent for the Arts programs around the county send out RFP’s for public art projects and I submit ideas based on the scope/vision of the call.  I really enjoy projects that involve the request for innovations in technology and concepts about “looking to the future”.  

I work in a very industrial setting that is an amazing work environment for an artist. My studio is in the home of the Old Republic Steel Mill and what is now Wade Sand and Gravel Quarry. When I work with rocks out of the quarry, the limestone is harvested from an area with 600 million years of geological history. I think the process of harvesting the stone brings a certain awareness and perspective to my work. The second element of influence is the backdrop of the old steel mill and buildings that brought in the industrial development of this whole region and has now been made obsolete – Republic Steel closed in the ’70s. There is, of course, residue and environmental impact from this period in Birminghamʼs history but at the time, the plant made the most of the known technology at the time by producing by-products from the coke ovens that included gas, tar, light oil, etc. I think itʼs intriguing to think about how technology can continue to answer many of the compelling energy challenges we face today – smarter, cleaner and more energy efficient as we evolve in our understanding of what serves our future and the future of our children best.

Deedee Morrison, Seed Pod, Chattanooga, Tennessee
I see that you carefully consider the site for each work. How does the location of the work influence your design process?
Every site location has a unique nuance that needs to be understood and creatively explored to make sure that the sculpture is congruent and a fluid expression of the public art project.  
Public Art has the wonderful opportunity of communicating the values and cultural identity of a city.

I recently worked on a solar powered light installation, called Seed Pod for the Renaissance Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The park is a 23 acre wetland park created on what was once a manufacturing site. The park effectively demonstrates how a polluted area can be returned to a clean river habitat and natural park setting. The design of the park promoted the return of native plants, enhancing the river ecosystems and provides a wonderful balance between urban renewal and the conservation of natural resources.  

The Seed Pod sculpture works in unison with the objectives of the park. The sculpture is a visual display of the power and energy thatʼs available every day from a single solar panelʼs relationship with the sun. The color scheme of the Seed Pod sculpture mirrors the vibrant yellow hues of the sun. Near the Seed Pod sculpture is the 18ft. solar tower that, like plants, collects and stores the energy released from the sun. The Seed Pod and the solar tower are intimately connected in the phenomena of life and growth. The solar tower captures the energy of the sun during the day and the Seed Pod emits the dramatic stored light at night, giving the sculpture an added dimension.

Any other advice for artists interested in creating art in public places?
Don’t give up.  I submit many proposals – even today, when another artist is selected.  You just have to continue to believe in your own work and vision for your work and push ahead.  The greatest satisfaction is to work with city planners, architects and designer on perfecting the concept of your ideas for a public art project, working on the piece for months and then seeing the sculpture installed in it’s new home and feel that it was meant to be there.

See Deedee Morrison’s new artwork in Oklahoma City at the Southwest Oklahoma City Library, 2201 SW 134th St.

Nature in Many Forms: Helen Howerton

Guest Author: Laura Reese, OVAC Intern
Helen Howerton. Long Distance Calling 8”x10” Acrylic/Canvas
Helen Howerton paints nature. She has worked in commercial art, illustration, education, and has built a career on painting wildlife and the Western landscape. She said her goal is to capture the beauty of nature.
She is skilled in painting, and her skills have recently extended to sculpture as well. Her first bronze piece was created for Chemtech Chemical Co. in Geismar, Louisiana. The sculpture was of a blue merlin and was created for an award for best company employees. The Blue Merlin Award was a limited edition of 20 castings cast by the Bronze Horse Foundry in Pawhuska. She created the sculpture without formal instruction in sculpting techniques.
Helen Howerton. Blue Marlin. Bronze sculpture. 11”x5”x7” 
Howerton said she saw professional artist John Coleman’s expertise in clay at a demonstration he did at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2011, inspiring her to create of bronze sculptures in addition to painting. “I believe that an artist should always seek exploration and education to further their career as a professional artist”, said Howerton.
She was selected for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Education Grant in January to fund a portion of her expenses for a four day conference during June on clay sculpting techniques, taught by Coleman. Howerton said she hopes the workshop will help her begin sculpting more and add to her artistic career.
You can see more of Howerton’s work at
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition invests in artists’ project through grants for growing careers, creative projects and exceptional continuing education. The next application deadline is July 15. Find guidelines and application here