Not For Sale: Graffiti Culture in Oklahoma
Oct. 15 - Nov. 30, 2017 | Fairgrounds
Featured artists included: Chris SKER, JASPYR, CODAK Smith, SADAT, David HEK, SEAPO, GERM, ENTAKE, MANIK and RHAK.
Not For Sale: Graffiti Culture in Oklahoma, a group art show, featured 10 artists who have been an integral part of the Oklahoma graffiti scene. Artists painted their pieces directly on the walls of the gallery, transforming Oklahoma Contemporary into an amazing display of styles. These artists are part of a culture that promotes creative expression to individuals who have not always had access to the art world.
The artwork in this exhibition found its roots in the graffiti movement which emerged in the early 1970s in Philadelphia. Graffiti art is mostly based on text, in particular, the writing of an assumed name that serves to promote the artist. Graffiti has flourished worldwide in large part because it operates outside of the art world’s elite institutions — it therefore is an art form open to anyone. The exhibition title, Not For Sale, makes reference to the fact that graffiti is primarily made for fame and not for money and can be seen by everyone, not just those with access to museums and galleries.
"Graffiti is often referred to as a form of rebellion, but I want to change that perception with this exhibition," said Angel Little, guest curator for Not For Sale. "This is a chance for people who aren't familiar with graffiti to see it in all forms. It's a chance for people to understand that graffiti has changed and saved lives. Artists do it to connect with and improve their communities. The artists in this show - from Oklahoma City and Tulsa - are the driving force behind the change and it's inspiring to see them come together in a gallery environment and with this kind of influence to create something positive."
While there is no doubt that graffiti’s often illegal placement on subways, trains and walls has added to its appeal as a form of rebellion, the artists in Not for Sale used their skills in many legitimate fields, from mural commissions to graphic design to fine art that sells in galleries. Guest curators Chris SKER and Angel Little have secured the talents of skilled and experienced graffiti artists with an Oklahoma connection. All of the artists are Oklahoma-born, with the majority living and working in the state.
"This is the place where my life's journey began," said muralist CODAK Smith. "As someone who was born in Oklahoma and is fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout the United States and overseas to showcase my art, it is a great honor to bring my work back home and contribute to the growing mural arts scene in Oklahoma."
Oklahoma Contemporary planned a series of programs for youth and adults that looked at graffiti’s place as one of the “four elements of hip hop” — including emceeing, breakdancing and DJing. Workshops and performances allowed everyone to celebrate November as Hip Hop Month in Oklahoma City, as designated by Mayor Mick Cornett in 2016.
Nov. 4, 2017 | Not For Sale: A ONESoul Charity Event Hip Hop Jam
We kicked off Hip Hop Month with an all-day celebration at Oklahoma Contemporary, where visitors enjoyed the graffiti art of Not For Sale. This event featured dance battles and open floor dancing, live graffiti competitions, musical performances, food trucks, indoor art projects and more. The focus was on families, workshops, kid showcases, and performances. After 7 p.m., visitors over 21 enjoyed adult beverages as the mood changed to a more adult-friendly environment.
Nov. 28, 2017 | Panel Discussion: Street Art in OKC: What's Next?
Graffiti and other street art can beautify and energize a city, as well as provide a creative outlet to an expanded group of artists. In a number of cities, artists have successfully partnered with administration to improve neighborhoods and activate communities. How can we make this happen here? Kris Kanaly of the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate talked about their path to organize the Plaza Walls project, a successful example in OKC. Representatives from the Arts Commission discussed the process for ensuring that street art is legal and can remain on the walls for an extended period and how they are worked to make that process easier. The program aimed to be a dialogue between artists and the city administration to work together toward a goal of increasing art in Oklahoma. This panel discussion was organized in conjunction with the Oklahoma Public Art Network and the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.
Our free family Make + Takes in October and November were also tied to the exhibition.