Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ideas Behind the Concept/OK exhibition

Last week we announced a new 2012 exhibition featuring Oklahoma artists, Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma. The exhibition is an open call survey of Oklahoma artists’ work along with extra components to encourage audience involvement and more attention for artists.

I want to give you some background on how we planned the exhibition. Since we are always striving to serve more artists and serve them better, we constantly assess how our programs impact Oklahoma artists. This is only one of the many ways that the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) is trying to create opportunities for artists.
OVAC director Julia Kirt, curator Louise Siddons, 24 Works award
winning artists Romy Owens, Monika Linehan, & May Yang 
After several years of assessment and strategic planning, the Exhibition Committee decided to create a new exhibition opportunity. Many artists and educators served on the Exhibition Committee during the development of the Art 365 and Concept/OK exhibitions. Members involved at various points in the planning included: Tomas Batista, Elizabeth Brown, Stan Carroll, Jean Ann Fausser, Anita Fields, Sarah Hearn, Skip Hill, Jonathan Hils, Pam Husky, EK Jeong,  Jackie Knapp, Kathy McRuiz, Shawn Meyers, Audrey Schmitz, John Seward, Carl Shortt, Suzanne Thomas, Jeri Wensel, and Elia Woods. After several years of evaluation and planning, the committee introduced the new survey exhibition structure to the OVAC Board for approval in early 2010.

First, we assessed juried and curated exhibitions already taking place in Oklahoma, trying to make sure the OVAC exhibition does not duplicate other opportunities. We decided that we should focus on what could make the exhibition exceptional for the participating artists as well as the exhibition visitors.

24 Works exhibition audience
The committee emphasized increasing cash awards, growing the audiences, improving education for the community, and working with a partner gallery on a consistent basis.  We agreed we should highlight all artistic media and connect the artists more closely with curators. We retained the basic expectations that the exhibition feature living Oklahoma visual artists, be open call to allow anyone eligible to apply, involve national curators and not censor artwork.

A completely new component, the curator will pick up to 5 artists from the Survey entries to be Focus artists. The Focus artists will show a small body of work in tandem with Kansas City artists. The Oklahoma artists will then exhibit in Kansas City. The committee conceived of the Focus as a way to offer special awards to artists and more interaction with the curator and regional art community. 

Happy artists at the Art 365 exhibition opening
Another new element for Oklahoma exhibitions, two artists will be chosen for Residencies. Chosen from proposals, these artists will have longer to develop their work, which must engage the public. In planning, we decided Residencies would connect artists to the public more intimately. We hope audiences will learn more about the artists’ ideas and process for creation. Also, the Residencies link to the Hardesty Arts Center’s future programming. 

Since OVAC does not have a gallery space, we instead work with museums and art centers that have compatible missions to present the exhibitions. The new Hardesty Arts Center is a perfect partner for Concept/OK because of its innovative educational programs, emphasis on connecting living artists with audiences and wonderful new galleries. Watch for more about the Center in a future blog post or read about it on the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa website.

We are thrilled for the launch of Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma and hope the exhibition serves the artists and public well. You can read history of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s exhibition programs here. Exhibitions OVAC now coordinates include Concept/OK every two years, Art 365 triennially, Momentum OKC and Tulsa annually, and, with Individual Artists of Oklahoma, 24 Works on Paper every two years.

Visit for more details about the exhibition and call for entries.


romy owens said...

i love knowing how concept/ok evolved. so exciting!

Kelsey Karper said...

Thanks, Romy! We are excited, too. Our interns have busily been preparing the mailing of the call for entries today. Can't wait to put them in the mail!