Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 10 Art Experiences of 2013: Laura Reese

Art can take you many places, and in my case, art has taken me all over the world this year! As I plan for the New Year, I can only hope that I will have experiences as fun and exciting as this past year. As an artist and a curator, my list of art events are those that have inspired me to create or curate art.

Bean Finneran at 108 Contemporary
Bean Finneran: Ceramic Landscapes @ 108 Contemporary
One of many great new spaces in Tulsa, 108 Contemporary is dedicated to showcasing fine contemporary craft.  Bean Finneran’s Ceramic Landscapes exhibition is no exception. Her exquisite ceramic installations look like plastic at first blush, then upon further inspection, their delicate nature is revealed. This show inspired me to think about the structures of my art, and the inspirational sources. I was also inspired to write about it on my blog, and write more about art.  Later that night I got to stroll around the First Friday activities, which included great work from Marilyn Artus and Mark Lewis at Living Arts, and a great alumni show at the Zarrow Center. I love spending First Fridays in Tulsa, and relish any opportunity I get to visit my hometown.

my studio process: lots of multiples!
Norman Open Studios
In May, I opened my studio to the public as part of Norman Arts Council’s Norman Open Studios. It was great to have visitors see my studio, talk about my process, and show the inside of a typical artist studio. I met people who I might have never met otherwise, because they were interested in how art is made here in Oklahoma. 
OVAC offers a similar program in Tulsa: the Tulsa Art Studio Tour.

Oklahoma Arts Conference: Leadership Arts Graduation
Oklahoma Arts Conference in Ardmore
This year’s Oklahoma Arts Conference was amazing, and Ardmore was a great setting. Getting to hear from Laundromat Project founder Risë Wilson, as well as other wonderful presenters about expanding the arts in our great state was amazing! I learned so much about our diverse community that is working so hard as well as how we can make it even better. Hands down, the best speech was by the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Executive Director Amber Sharples, which inspired me to think about how art transforms our cultural experience. I can’t wait for next year’s conference in my home base of Norman.

work from No Longer Empty
Manon Slome at the University of Oklahoma & OCCF 
Founder of No Longer Empty, Manon Slome, came to Oklahoma for not just one, but two spectacular talks. First a workshop at the University of Oklahoma, presented by Norman Arts Council and Institute for Quality Communities. And the next day, a lecture at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, presented by Oklahoma Contemporary. 
No Longer Empty's model is to find an unusued, and often historic site, and curate a temporary exhibition that draws on history, place and area demographics with site-specific art. These shows are free to the public, educational, and engaging for the community.
Slome's method of approaching a space with art is radically different than anything going on in Oklahoma, YET. Norman Arts Council has announced the START program premiering in April, which will have site-responsive art, a Better Block project, and educational programming in a historic downtown Norman site. I have the pleasure of curating this project with heather ahtone, and Slome's workshop was a great kick-off to inspire how to approach art and place.

a visitor looking at work by John Bryant at Slice of American Pie
ESTONIA – Slice of American Pie: A Survey of Student Printmaking in America
Since co-curating Momentum Tulsa in 2012, I had been itching to get my fingers on another chance to curate a show. While friends of mine from Estonia, performance group Non Grata, were in town last fall, we pitched the proposal of an American Student printmaking show at their In Graafika Festival in July of 2013. I traveled to Milwaukee (below) in search of great printmaking students, and brought their work with me to Estonia, where I got a whole new experience of culture and art! It was a great experience in curating: from selecting, to transporting art, and installing in a retail space, as well as planning an exhibition, it was extremely valuable. Estonia is an amazing country, and the printmaking community, though small, is stead-fast and strong. It was an inspiration to meet artists who worked through the communist era's oppression and young artists who see hope for art in their country's future.

Just Seeds show at SGCI Milwaukee
SGCI Milwaukee
Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) holds an annual conference every year for printmakers and printers to convene and talk shop about the state of printmaking today. This year’s theme was Print Artists Make, focusing on the maker culture that goes hand in hand with the printmaking culture, as well as the industrial nature of the host city, Milwaukee, WI. With the mission of finding students of printmaking for a show abroad, I explored Milwaukee with a curator’s keen eye. I met lots of new people and printmakers, was in an art show for the protégés of the Dirty Printmakers of America, visited a great art museum, and drank lots of great beer.

Joe Six Pack and the Americans Performing at Momentum Tulsa
Momentum Tulsa’s 10th Anniversary
I came to OVAC as Event Coordinator in March with the opening of this year’s Momentum OKC, but Momentum Tulsa has a special place in my heart. It was my first major art show after moving back to Oklahoma (2011), it held my first curatorial experience (2012), and the 10th anniversary of Momentum Tulsa this year was one of the greatest events I have had the pleasure of being involved in. A costume contest, great live music, fun interactive space-themed atmosphere, and a wonderfully curated art show. I had such a great time working with the committee on planning the event, working with the curators and volunteers to put up the art, and enjoying the great fun show! It was a blast, and I was so glad to be a part of it again, in a different and new role.

the Artist at her Girlie Show booth
The Girlie Show 10th Anniversary and last ever…
If you didn’t already know, the Girlie Show was the power house of art festivals in Oklahoma for the past 10 years. Focusing on women artists, the Girlie Show created a new space for female craft artists in this state. After 10 years, the Girlie Show recognized their impact, and closed their doors to open the floor for other festivals and artists to rise. As a former intern for the Girlie Show in 2012, I had a great time becoming part of the Girlies in 2013. Sharing a booth with Erin Latham, I sold a lot of art, met a lot of people, and got a great little ego-boost from the experience. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

my work in 24 Works on Paper
24 works on Paper opening at IAO
Long before OVAC, long before curating, long before writing and visiting and meeting new artists, I was just a sole artist in a studio, making prints, dreaming about the future. As I move in my career towards art administration, I never want to lose my artistic practice. Submitting to 24 Works on Paper was easy, but I never thought I'd get in. Getting selected to be in the exhibition, hearing the curator Kirsten Olds wax poetic about my work, and having my work travel all over the state is a truly amazing experience. The opening show at Individual Artists of Oklahoma was a great experience, as I won a curator's award, talked about my art on a public panel, and became invigorated to create more and more art in the upcoming year.

I hope your upcoming year is filled with lots of art and inspiration!
If you want to add your own Top 10 list, feel free to comment. Happy end of 2013! 

Laura Reese is the Event Coordinator for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. She is also a writer, curator and artist from Norman, OK, where she lives with her partner, who an artist and musician, and her dog, who is a dog.

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