A New Home for Contemporary Arts

Last night, I got to help make history.

Living Arts announced that it will open in its new space, Living Arts Contemporary Space, at 307 E. Brady, on August 15. George Kaiser Family Foundation owns the building and is leasing the first floor to Living Arts for what I’m guessing is a nominal fee.

The second floor will house 13 apartments, occupied by recent college grads who will be infiltrating Tulsa Public Schools’ most underserved schools as members of the service corps Teach for America. Since the teachers have to be in place in the fall, the whole building is set to open Aug. 15. Architecture firm Kinslow, Keith and Todd will handle the design and build of the outside walls, as well as those that connect the two floors, and the stairway, elevator and lobby.

The remaining portion of Living Arts will be built as funds are available by architects and builders of the organization’s choosing, which is why, last night, a group of architects, artists and designers gathered at the space to flesh out ideas.

The building, with 12,000 square feet of usable space (twice what LA is working with now) will be totally dedicated to contemporary arts. There will be two galleries, one for visual arts and one for performance arts, as well as three education spaces, a lounge, bar and kitchen and office space.

As we toured the facility and began thinking about how we wanted to design and build walls, windows, entrances, signage, lights, sound, etc., etc., we were encouraged to think creatively about solutions, and to think of every solution as a temporary one, so that LA can continue to grow, change and develop.

We were divided into committees, each one (hopefully) comprised of a blend of professionals: architects, designers, artists and “other” (me, for example).

I joined Linda Clark, LA’s new administrative director, on the bathroom committee, along with Chris Ganong. Because I’m not an artist or designer, and because I have virtually no technical skill – but I want to be a part of designing the new space – I chose a small project, where virtually all of the technical work (plumbing, etc.) will be handled by KKT, and I can think about paint, art… you know, the fun stuff.

But, Linda and I really need the help of artists! We want to tear out the existing stalls and have artists design new ones out of material of their choosing – the more unlikely, the better. In my mind, I’d love for it to be some kind of found or reclaimed material, but I’ll by no means limit an artist to that. We will probably limit them in budget, though, but I don’t know yet what that will be. I’m guessing it will be small, though, so we need artists who will either donate their talent or be willing to work with us on a fee.

We’re also thinking about incorporating sculptures and other art into the bathrooms, but we need artists’ help! I know it sounds like an unusual project, and it is, but it’s also an exciting one, and I hope that some local, and even student, artists will want to participate. We’re meeting at Living Arts (current address: 308 S. Kenosha) at 5:30 on Tuesday, May 19. I encourage anyone who wants to participate to please, please come! I’ll have photos of the bathroom so you can get an idea of what we’re working with, and maybe we can even take a field trip to the site.

And stay tuned for more updates on Living Arts’ progress. After an itinerant 40 years, in which the gallery had 10 different homes, it’ll finally have a permanent residency. It’s an exciting time for art and downtown Tulsa, and I encourage you to be a part of it.


christine said...

I would love to get involved with this! I wasn't able to make it to the meeting lastnight, but I look forward to learning more about the project.

Holly Wall said...

Christine, you reminded me that I meant to say that I'm certain LA would love to have more people working on all of the projects. Sign up soon, though, because we need to have initial plans turned in by June 10. Since they're shooting for an Aug. 15 opening, we've gotta work kind of quickly. Call 585-1234 or e-mail linda[at]livingarts.org.

Joy said...

I would LOVE to do this! I'm afraid I'm going to miss out on so much by being out of town for the next three weeks! Pity.

Chuck Foxen said...

Tulsa is fortunate to have George Kaiser Family Foundation and all the other large family foundations supporting arts in Tulsa. Its easy to round all your eggs up and guard them in a bad economy, but to share with your community and support arts is awe-inspiring.

Thank you George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Holly Wall said...

You're so right, Chuck. Well said.

Brooklyn said...

I often judge venues by the bathrooms. If they care enough to make their bathrooms rad, I am in. This post makes me happy :)


nice job describing the process and the evening, Living Arts will need all the help the community can muster over the next 90...

a bit of a tweek i think its actually 12K on the sq footage and i'm having a difficult time coming up with ten previous homes...maybe i need to look at your notes...

thanks for the work

Holly Wall said...

You're right about 12,000 SF. My oops on that one. Steve Liggett is the one who told me LA had 10 previous homes, so you might check with him on that. I think he may have been counting the several years LA was homeless and exhibited wherever it could, like the Central Library, for example.

Natasha said...

Wow, Holly. Lucky woman! If anyone could make a bathroom funky, it's you.

Wait, that didn't sound right. Ima try again.

Wow, Holly. Lucky woman! If anyone could make a bathroom funky, it'd be you.

There, that's better. =)