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 www.thegalleryonsixth.com.