40 years and counting

In September, Living Arts of Tulsa will celebrate 40 years of presenting new, contemporary art forms to Tulsa. To celebrate, Walt Kosty is helping organize a publication that will offer an introspective view of the gallery's history, told mostly through the eyes, words and photos of its patrons. I'm excited to be a part of the project as well.

Kosty has started a blog, at livingartshistory.blogspot.com for patrons, past and present, to post their memories and photos of the gallery. You can e-mail Kosty at walt.kosty.livingarts[at]blogger.com to submit your memories.

The subject of your e-mail will be the titles of your post, and the body of the e-mail will be the post itself.
Always include your name at the end of the post so it can be attributed to a person. To include an image in your post, you can attach an image to you your e-mail.

Sometimes email programs append text to the bottom of each sent message;
to make sure this cruft doesn't get posted to your blog, put "#end" at the end of your post.

The project will be revealed at the gallery's 40th anniversary exhibition, which opens September 3.

Head over to the blog to submit your favorite memory and read those of others. They're really quite fascinating.


First Friday in the Brady Arts District

I just called Janice McCormick at the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery to get information about TAC's presence at the Brady Arts District's First Friday Art Crawl for the May 7 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

"Um, isn't May 1 the first Friday of the month?" she politely asked me, while probably silently reeling at my idiocy.

That's what I would have done, anyway.

So, since I, for some reason, though that May 8 was the first Friday of the month, I didn't include information about the First Friday Art Crawl or about the Visual Arts Center's Baywalk in this week's UTW column.

I apologize.

For about a year now, galleries in the Brady Arts District have been joining forces to collectively open their doors on the first Friday of each month. Greg Gray, owner of Club 209, organizes the event, which involves the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery, Club 209, CFC Chocolatier, the Tulsa Glassblowing Studio and Donna Prigmore's pottery gallery holding exhibit openings and other art-related events all on the same night, at the same time.

In addition, at the May and June events, the Visual Arts Center will host a Baywalk, wherein artists will set up shop just inside the garage doors of the Mathews Warehouse, the future site of the center at Brady and Boston. About 20 or so artists will be there with wine and work, exhibiting and selling to passersby.

The entire event is free and open to the public, and it's a great time. I took Isaac last month and he was fascinated by the glassblowing at the Glassblowing Studio. I mean, really. He stared at it forever. I think he sensed that he could break it, and that intrigued him.

And I love seeing so many bodies in downtown Tulsa at once, all gathered for the purpose of celebrating and supporting local artists. Awesome.

First Friday starts at about 5:30 or so on Friday, May 1. At each gallery there will be a sheet of paper with information on participating galleries, their addresses and the times of their openings. Because TAC won't open until Tuesday, May 5 (its annual 5x5 show; read more about that later), the gallery won't be open, but they'll have a table at the Baywalk with a sneak preview of a couple of the 5x5 pieces and some info about coming attractions.

A Little Bit Wicked

This summer, Celebrity Attractions presents Wicked, a musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch's point of view. While it's Celebrity Attraction's mission to bring Broadway performances to Tulsa year after year (and the organization does a great job of doing so; thanks to it locals can see major blockbuster performances without have to leave our cozy little city), it seems each season has one really stand-out production, and this year it's Wicked.

Tickets go on sale May 9 for an engagement beginning July 15, but by clicking the link below, you can buy yours early. And you might wanna. I have a feeling they're going to sell out fast.


Opera for the Rest of Us

I wrote the following post for my good friend Tasha at Tasha Does Tulsa. We attended Tulsa Opera's production of Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir D'Amore last weekend, and Tasha scored two tickets to give away to one lucky reader. Check out the post below and then head over to www.tashadoestulsa.com to enter.

Every time I attend a Tulsa Opera production, I forget for a little while that I’m in Tulsa. TO presents magnanimous works, attracting the best singers, directors and conductors that the industry has to offer. And as I watch (and hear) these amazing voices, performing in front of such elaborate sets and in such exquisite costumes, I imagine that I’m in someplace much larger and more cosmopolitan than Tulsa.

(For some reason, I sometimes still think of Tulsa as being a much smaller city than it actually is, even though I know better.)

For those who are opera fans, Tulsa Opera never disappoints, and its final production of the 2008-2009 season is no exception. For those who’ve never attended an opera before, this weekend is a perfect time to start, as Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore is a wonderful first-time opera.

In it, Nemorino (Gregory Schmidt) is a shy, naïve peasant living in the Italian countryside. He’s in love with Adina (Mari Moriya), a stubborn landowner who toys with his emotions and mocks his affection. Desperate to win her heart, Nemorino purchases an elixir of love from a traveling doctor (read: quack) named Dulcamara (Terry Hodges). The elixir is nothing but wine, but it fills Nemorino with a confidence he’s never known, and is he able to act aloof and unconcerned around Adina, sure that she will fall in love with him soon.

Adina, insulted that Nemorino has taken his attention from her, agrees to marry the sergeant of a military regimen that’s made a stop in their town. Belcore (Christopher Feigum) is a conceited, philandering fool, but Adina agrees to the wedding only to get a reaction out of Nemorino. It works.

Nemorino, desperate for money and more elixir, joins Belcore’s army for a stipend, which he quickly spends on a bottle of elixir the size of his torso. Meanwhile, the ladies of the village get word that Nemorino’s rich uncle has died and left him a millionaire, and they flock after him, leaving Nemorino and Dulcamara to believe that the love potion has worked.

In the end, Adina buys back Nemorino’s contract, saving him from war, and declares her love for them. The two marry, and everything ends happily ever after – which is so unlike and opera.

But that’s why it’s a fantastic show for those who think they don’t like opera or have no interest in the art form.

This is a comedy, written in the bel canto (“beautiful singing”) style, and it is sweet, sincere and amusing. The music and the singing are absolutely beautiful, and the singers are not only wonderful singers but actors as well. The show is rife with nuanced comedy, with every expression and gesture perfectly timed for a genuine laugh. At the same time, the show is sincere and poignant. It is a wonderful, feel-good show that makes for a perfect date night.

It’s also fast-paced and, for an opera, really short. The two hours you spend in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Chapman Music Hall, fly by.

And if it sounds like a good time to you, you’re in luck. TO presents L’Elisir D’Amore this Friday, May 1 at 7:30pm and Sunday, May 3, at 2:30pm. And the company has given Tasha Does Tulsa two tickets for Friday evening’s performance. Enter to win at www.tashadoestulsa.com.


Reviews: Dollar$ to Diamond$ and Mealer/Cleaver

Ugh. I am such a loser.

I peeped Living Arts' and Liggett Studio's April exhibits weeks ago and just haven't had the time to blog about them. My real job(s) have been keeping me way too busy, and now you only have two days to get your little hineys over to Kenosha before they come down on Thursday. I'll try to keep this short and sweet, then, with few words and lots of photos.

At Living Arts is "From Dollar$ to Diamond$," presented and curated by Swami Tourism, basically a fictitious organization invented by Jason Zaloudik. The exhibit consists of 20 works crafted by Oklahoma artists from materials found at the dollar store. No artist was allowed to spend more than $20 on his or her supplies. The variety of work included in the show is striking, showing off each artist's inventiveness and creativity. All of the work is for sale via a silent auction to benefit Living Arts. You can still swing by the gallery and bid on a piece until Thursday.

Artists whose work is included in the exhibit are: Kelli Adlan, Zoe Allen, Tommy Ball, Dustin Boise, Allison Dale, JOse Diaz, Joy Frangiosa, Adella Isle, Neal Janosek, Don Janzen, Ellen Jones, Dillon Klaod, Dean Lane, Jon Lindel, Sean Nelson, Tom Pershall, Eric Saak, Zac Sidle, Joe Sizlak and Jason Zaloudik.

Dustin Boise's multi-media project. The "Invisible Man" is crafted out of packing tape, his insides made from balloons.

Arguably the most popular piece in the exhibit was Jason Zaloudik's Skittles Pope. This one had the most bids when I saw it. Pretty remarkable.

Eric Saak's sculpture was probably the second most bid upon item. It's carefully constructed and quite inventive. I enjoyed just trying to determine what objects he used to make the piece.

Obviously there are 17 other works I left out, but a lot of my photos ended up blurry and ugly. Sorry. Go see it for yourself. The gallery is open from 5-8pm on Thursday.

Next door at Liggett Studio is J.D McPherson's video project "Mealer/Cleaver." The work consists of two videos projected on large, white walls. In one, McPherson is breaking apart boulders with a sledgehammer, and in the other, he's chopping wood with an axe.

The video begins with McPherson entering the space (in the wood-chopping video he arrives via tractor), picking up his tool and very systematically setting out to work, exhibiting the kind of toil, drudgery and determination associated, not only with manual labor, but with any kind of labor.

I found myself asking, as I watched him toil, "What is his purpose?" And then, "What is my purpose when I work? Why do I do it?"

Good questions, eh?

McPherson eventually puts his tools to rest and leaves his work, but then the video begins its loop, and he starts all over again. The project is insightful and thought-provoking.

I also loved the simplicity of his artist's statement, below. I was too lazy to copy it, so you'll just have to squint your eyes.

Liggett Studio is also open Thursday from 5-8pm. Stop by and check out this exhibit. Try to do it after dark. It's easier to see that way.


Call to furniture artisans from IAO

Calling all Furniture Artisans!

Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO) announces a call for entries to design and build the new reception desk for the organization’s future home at 708 W. Sheridan.

Attached are two dimension options for the needs of the space (note: The dimensions are not attached. Call the gallery for details). Please use these dimensions as a guideline for your design, but not as specific requirements for the piece. Other needs for the piece are to have ample storage and a hidden workspace area. The L-shaped version will need some way to pass through to the West side of the gallery and the piece must stay at 4-feet from the South wall and no more than 6-feet, 6-inches out into the gallery space. The workspace area must be 30” to 32” above finish floor; other heights may vary.

The dark black line on the outer part of the dimensions signifies the need for IAO’s mission statement and a way to conceal the office door.

The winning piece will be selected based on aesthetics/creativity, function, materials used (specific materials must be submitted with entry) and the total cost of the project, including the design and build fees.

Submissions must be made on one 24" x 36" board presentation to include the design and specified materials. The name of the artist should be placed on the back (not the front) as the judges will be considering the submissions without knowledge of whose piece it is.

Submissions must be delivered to IAO’s gallery at 811 N. Broadway by 5 p.m. Friday, May 22. The winning piece will be announced June 1 and the piece must be finished and delivered to IAO’s new location by Thursday, August 1.

IAO members will be allowed to submit one entry for free; non-members may submit one entry for $20.

Special thanks to Chip Fudge for donating the funds to IAO for the competition.

Gallery hours to drop off submissions are Noon – 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; Noon to 8 p.m. Friday. The gallery is located at 811 N. Broadway.

For more information, please call IAO at (405) 232-6060.

Call to artists: Cranked

This from Live4This/Loose Leaf Co.:

We're having a group show coming up during the Tulsa Tough bike race. The show is called Cranked and will feature all bike themed art.

If you are interested in submitting work the guidelines are as follows -

+ All art must be bicycle themed / related.

+ One piece per artist not to exceed 18x24.

+ If you are submitting a print you can submit as many as you would like to sell but at least one needs to be framed for display.

+ All work MUST be in by May 22 at the very latest and ready to hang.

+ The gallery takes 30% of sales.

+ Artist pays for shipping (if applicable). If any work is unsold we will cover return shipping.

+ Send work to 1402 S Quincy Ave. Tulsa, OK 74120 along with the following info - your name, title, medium, website, and the total price of the piece (including the 30% commission). Or drop off work at 328 E 1st Street, Tulsa, OK 74120, Mon-Turs 11-3.

+ If you plan on participating in the show please send an email to aaron at looseleafco dot com with your name, website and a few samples of work.

Thanks for your interest!!


May and June Baywalks at the Visual Arts Center

Last week I joined a crowd of local artists in the home of Bob and Sandy Sober for an update on the Arts and Humanity Council of Tulsa’s Visual Arts Center, set to open fall 2010 in the Mathews Warehouse at Brady and Boston.

The VAC will boast a 4,000-plus-square foot gallery, plus two 1,200-square foot galleries, six artists studios and classrooms (though the number escapes me). The center will be very artist-oriented; member artists may rent the studios for a nominal fee, member organizations may use the galleries for a nominal fee and artists will help decide the programming for all of the VAC’s exhibit spaces.

In an effort to generate buzz and excitement about the center, the VAC is hosting Baywalks (like the one in March) to coincide with the Brady Arts District’s First Friday events.

Baywalks are tentatively scheduled for the first Friday in May, June and July (provided there is no interfering construction at the center), and artists may set up shop to show and sell their work to passersby. Because of space, the event is limited to 20 artists per month. Below are all the details.

Something to look forward to in June: Grace Grothaus, local artist and Momentum 2009 Spotlight Artist, will display her installation “McWilderness” at June’s Baywalk. I didn’t get to see the installation firsthand at Momentum (and am very disappointed about that) but I have heard nothing but good things about it. Read my friend Ashley’s blog about it here.


EVENT 6 – 9 PM

2 truck bays on the northwest corner



• Bring easels, table, chairs, wine, food, candles…whatever it takes to set up your art

• AHCT will provide: ice, cups, lighting, water, information about the VAC

• Electricity source is limited. Lights will be set up, but no electricity is available for artists booths.

• Construction is progress! Baywalk with happen the first Friday of the month during May, June, and July…AS LONG AS CONSTRUCTION PERMITS. SUBJECT TO CHANGE!

• Please sign up tonight or email Meghan at pr@ahct.org

Heeere’s Linda!

Living ArtSpace recently hired Linda Clark, former part-time Business and Grants Manager for the Tulsa Glassblowing Studio and frequent Living Arts volunteer, as its Administrative Director. Although Living Arts’ bylaws always intended for there to be an administrative head, that position had, until now, been filled by volunteers.

“Since 2000, since we’ve really been gaining momentum in our programming and activity in general, it’s been impossible for a volunteer to take care of everything we need,” said Living Arts Artistic Director Steve Liggett.

In 2007, Living Arts applied for and received a Warhol Initiative Grant of $100,000 from the Warhol Foundation, and the grant has helped fund the new position. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been very generous to Living Arts, especially recently, and the George Kravis and Raymond and Bessie Kravis Foundation also helped fund the position.

Living Arts’ search committee received 50 applications from job seekers across the country before deciding unanimously to hire Clark. April 1 was her first day on the job.

Clark worked as an intern at Living Arts in 2006 while earning a master’s degree in arts administration from Goucher College. She has a background in performance art as a dancer and performer in musical theatre. She coordinated New Genre 2008’s “Crazy Quilt Drive-in” performance as well as 2009’s “Dance Oklahoma.”

She decided to focus her career on administration rather than performance because, she said, she “saw a need for that.”

“I’m very business-minded,” Clark said, “and my career is a way for me to blend my two passions: business and art.”

Liggett said her background in performance art nicely offsets his in visual art and comes perfectly timed as Living Arts plans to grow and expand its performance art programs.

Liggett will still handle Living Arts’ programming, while Clark will be responsible for raising the funds to put those programs in place and market them.

“With Linda’s help, we’ll be able to expand out operations further and do more of what we think the community needs, which is out mission, to expand and develop new, contemporary art works,” said Liggett.


'August' in Tulsa

I got this from local activist Barbara Santee and wanted to share it here. I'm so excited to see this play I could pee my pants. But that would be weird. And embarrassing.

By now, I think everyone and his/her dog knows that Oklahoma playwright Tracy Letts is my cousin, so I am taking the liberty of using my lists to let you in on some good news. His Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County is coming to Tulsa!!! The PAC is selling DISCOUNTED tickets to the January 25th through 31st performances right now! You can go to their web site at www.tulsapactrust.org, click on the August: Osage County icon, choose your performance day/time, enter the password trust, and purchase at a 10 percent discount! Orchestra seats are only $50. This is a pre-sale, and tickets go on sale at their regular prices August 3.

I've copied the New York Times review of the opening. It is a fabulous play that won five Tony awards and every major theatrical award there is, including in England when the London production opened there. Not too shabby for a kid from Oklahoma!
Barbara Santee

December 5, 2007

Mama Doesn’t Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse

All happy families are alike, Tolstoy told us, and each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But I’d bet the farm that no family has ever been as unhappy in as many ways — and to such sensationally entertaining effect — as the Westons of “August: Osage County,” the new play by Tracy Letts that blazed open last night at the Imperial Theater.

A fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown, “August” is probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Oh, forget probably: It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Fiercely funny and bitingly sad, this turbo-charged tragicomedy — which spans three acts and more than three blissful hours — doesn’t just jump-start the fall theater season, recently stalled when the stagehands went on strike. “August” throws it instantaneously into high gear.

Mr. Letts, hitherto best known as the author of the crafty, blood-soaked genre pieces “Killer Joe” and “Bug,” somehow finds fresh sources of insight, humor and anguish in seemingly worn-to-the-stump material: the dysfunctional dynamics of the American family. In “August: Osage County” can be heard echoes of other classic dramas about the strangling grip of blood ties — from Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” to Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” — but Mr. Letts infuses his dark drama with potent energies derived from two more populist forms of American entertainment. The play has the zip and zingy humor of classic television situation comedy and the absorbing narrative propulsion of a juicy soap opera, too.

In other words, this isn’t theater-that’s-good-for-you theater. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote an immortal line from a beloved sitcom.) It’s theater that continually keeps you hooked with shocks, surprises and delights, although it has a moving, heart-sore core. Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD. You will leave the Imperial Theater emotionally wrung out and exhausted from laughing, but you may still find yourself hungry for more.
“August” was first staged over the summer at the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. That production, with a terrific cast superbly directed by Anna D. Shapiro, has been imported virtually wholesale for the Broadway run. Among the many pleasures the show affords is the chance to see actors largely unknown in New York — perhaps, most vitally, Deanna Dunagan, who plays an evil mom to end them all — take the city by storm with the harsh humor, ferocity and keen feeling of their performances.

Ms. Dunagan is Violet Weston, the razor-tongued matriarch of a family from Pawhuska, near Tulsa. Early on in the play, Violet’s husband of more than 30 years, a poet and former professor, mysteriously — or perhaps not so mysteriously — walks off into a sultry summer night, never to be heard from again. (The exhausted paterfamilias, Beverly, played with lovely wit and rue by the playwright’s father, Dennis Letts, opens the play with a lyrical dirge assessing the state of his marriage: “My wife takes pills, and I drink,” he says. “That’s the bargain we’ve struck.”)
The couple’s three adult daughters are called back to the family homestead, husbands or boyfriends in tow, to comfort Mother in her time of need, and try to get to the bottom of Dad’s disappearance. (Todd Rosenthal designed the tiered, haunted-house set, artfully strewn with shadows by the lighting designer Ann G. Wrightson.) All three offspring exhibit clear indications of past, present or future emotional damage.

The mousy Ivy (Sally Murphy), who lives nearby and resents the responsibility she’s had to take for watching over the horror of her parents’ latter years, has never married, although she is secretly carrying on a love affair with her mousy first cousin, belittlingly known to the family as Little Charles (Ian Barford). Barbara (Amy Morton), the oldest and strongest of the daughters, well armored in savage humor, returns from Colorado with her newly estranged husband, Bill Fordham (Jeff Perry), and their sardonic, pot-smoking teenage daughter, Jean (Madeleine Martin). The youngest Weston girl, Karen (Mariann Mayberry), arrives later, from Florida, spouting self-help platitudes about her recently rehabilitated love life, and accompanied by her oily businessman fiancé, Steve (Brian Kerwin).

Surrounded though Violet is by her extended family — which also includes her abrasive sister, Mattie Fae (a howlingly funny Rondi Reed), and Mattie Fae’s henpecked husband, Charlie (Francis Guinan) — she does not really seem to be a woman in great need of succor and support. Yes, she’s got cancer of the mouth. And a serious addiction to downers. She is often self-medicated to the point of incoherence, and prone to childish hysterics when crossed.

But Violet also possesses a spirit of aggression that a pro linebacker would envy, and a sixth sense for finding and exploiting the sore spots and secret hurts of everyone around her. For Violet, a child of poverty, neglect and abuse, the will to endure is inextricably tied up with the desire to fight and the need to wound. She can keep the blood in her own veins flowing only by drawing blood from others. (The play could almost be called “My Mother the Vampire.”)

And so, needlessly, pointlessly and endlessly, Violet sets about psychologically flaying her nearest and dearest, one by one, taking impotent revenge for the miseries of her life by picking at the scabs of everyone else’s.
The results are as harrowing as they are hilarious. Ms. Dunagan is simply magnificent in this fabulously meaty role. Such is the mesmerizing power of her performance that as Violet’s snake eyes scan the horizon for a fresh victim, claw-hand dragging a Winston to her grimly set mouth, you may actually find yourself sinking in your seat, irrationally praying that she doesn’t pick on you. (I was cowering myself.)

The cast does not have a weak link, and the other major female roles, in particular, are rewarding and perfectly played. (Only Ms. Martin and Mr. Kerwin, both excellent, are new to the production.) Ms. Murphy’s sad-eyed Ivy has a plaintive tenderness that occasionally flares up into a defensive assertion of the justice of her needs. Ms. Mayberry makes Karen’s drawly, long-winded narcissism oddly touching — you sense she’s still recovering from a lifetime of being talked over or ignored.

Ms. Reed flaps and squawks hilariously as the vulgar Mattie Fae, who shares with her sister a brazen heedlessness of other people’s feelings. Perhaps finest of all is Ms. Morton’s Barbara, who gradually — and frightfully — begins to metamorphose before our eyes into a boozing, brutalizing mirror image of her mother.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery, sexual misbehavior: The list of pathologies afflicting one or another of the Weston family is seemingly endless, and in some ways wearily familiar. But Mr. Letts’s antic recombination of soapy staples is so pop-artfully orchestrated that you never see the next curveball coming, and the play is so quotably funny I’d have a hard time winnowing favorite lines to a dozen. (Much of the “Greatest Generation” speech would definitely make the list.)

I’ll leave you with one that neatly expresses the bleak spirit of the play, which nevertheless manages to provide great pleasure by delving into deep wells of cruelty and pain. Recalling a night of youthful high spirits in sad contrast to the gruesome present, Barbara seeks to wise up her daughter to the decay of hope and happiness that often comes with the passage of time.
“Thank God we can’t tell the future,” she observes, “or we’d never get out of bed.”

By Tracy Letts; directed by Anna D. Shapiro; sets by Todd Rosenthal; costumes by Ana Kuzmanic; lighting by Ann G. Wrightson; sound by Richard Woodbury; music by David Singer; dramaturg, Edward Sobel. A Steppenwolf Theater Company production, presented by Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler, Jerry Frankel, Ostar Productions, Jennifer Manocherian, the Weinstein Company, Debra Black/Daryl Roth, Ronald and Marc Frankel/Barbara Freitag and Rick Steiner/Staton Bell Group. At the Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street; (212) 239-6200. Through March 9. Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes.
WITH: Ian Barford (Little Charles), Deanna Dunagan (Violet Weston), Kimberly Guerrero (Johnna Monevata), Francis Guinan (Charlie Aiken), Brian Kerwin (Steve Heidebrecht), Dennis Letts (Beverly Weston), Madeleine Martin (Jean Fordham), Mariann Mayberry (Karen Weston), Amy Morton (Barbara Fordham), Sally Murphy (Ivy Weston), Jeff Perry (Bill Fordham), Rondi Reed (Mattie Fae Aiken) and Troy West (Sheriff Deon Gilbeau).

OVAC's Tulsa Art Studio Tour

I took the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's self-guided Tulsa Art Studio Tour on Sunday and was, of course, so inspired by the creative spaces in which some of our local artists work.

First on my tour was a nondescript building at 1104 S. Voctor Ave. in which large-scale photographer David Varmecky works.

It turns out, though you'd never know it, there are actually seven artists with studios in this building. Here's Varmecky's:

Varmecky finished his MFA at the University of Tulsa in 2005 and is looking for a teaching position at a university somewhere. He spends time working in his studio every day.

Although he wasn't on the itinerary, artist Steve Rosser, who's attending TU for his MFA in printmaking, opened his studio to folks on the tour.

Rosser has painted professionally for 25 years and worked in art galleries for 20. While he earns his MFA, he continues to create and also teaches a class at TCC called Pro Practice, which instructs students on how to deal with galleries and other business aspects of art.

On the door to Rosser's studio was taped a Gustave Flaubert quote that I really liked: "Be regular and orderly in your life so that you can be violent and original in your work."

Next on my tour was Kristal Tomshany's studio, a small shed behind her Midtown home. Tomshany is a painter and mixed media artist whose studio was packed when I visited.

Here, Tomshany is explaining the circumstances by which she found the bird that is the subject of the painting below. You can see the work in stages: a photograph of the bird, a sketch and then the finished product. Unfortunately, I came in on the story midway through and am unable to relate it to you here.

As as aside, I thought this was cute:

Following that, I made my to photographer and installation artist Glenn Herbert Davis' studio at 3837 W. 21st St. I had plans to visit the studios of at least three more artists, but, unfortunately, on the way to Davis' studio my son fell asleep, cutting our trip short.


Davis' studio looks less like an artist's habitat and more like a wood shop. He creates his installations from found soft wood, usually reclaimed from discarded packing palettes. His work is often functional, even if the function is a completely made up one, specific to that work.

His office furniture is almost all reclaimed, augmented and built by the artist.

When he's finished with a work, he disassembles it and uses whatever he can salvage on other projects. He's also a professor at TU. Here, the artist and his muses:

(I made that part about the muses up. I have no idea if that's true or not.)

I truly enjoyed my time with these artists and sincerely appreciate their willingness to open their studios up to the public for two days. I wish I could have seen all the studios. If you didn't visit at least one, you missed out. And while I wouldn't recommend knocking on any of these artists' doors just to see if you can pop in for a bit, I would urge you to take the tour next year. You will not leave uninspired.

Colonizing Pawhuska

In interviewing Lee Roy Chapman for last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly cover story, I learned that some pretty creative things are happening in the little town of Pawhuska, the capital of the Osage Nation, just an hour and a half northwest of Tulsa.

Chapman and a few others have a mind to turn the little town into an arts colony, similar to the Taos and Santa Fe colonies of New Mexico. Chapman and Oak Tree Books owner Scott Dingman have set up shop in a large, open space called the Woodul Gallery (above) on Sixth Street in downtown Pawhuska where, last weekend, they hosted an opening reception for an exhibit of famed, Tulsa-bred photographer Gaylord Herron. Also on display were some of Black Mesa and Live4This's works from the Public Secrets exhibit at Living Arts last winter.

Chapman said the exhibit will likely hang through April and May, and he'll host a second opening in May, which he hope will attract more travelers from Tulsa. He's leasing his Pawhuska space for a fraction of what something like that would cost him in Tulsa, and he sees the possibilities for artists in that town boundless.

The Lloyd Gallery, just down the street from Woodul, owned and operated by Roger Lloyd (above, center), also hosted an opening reception Saturday for an exhibition by photographer John Margolies. Margolies shoots roadside curiosities and other destination oddities. Last month, the Lloyd Gallery showed paintings by Tulsa artist (and memorable Mazeppa character) Gailard Sartain.

I'll be writing an in-depth piece on the possibility of Pawhuska as an arts colony sometime this summer for UTW, so stay tuned.