Classes and talks with artists bring contemporary art close to home
Whether it’s a chance to get hands-on with art or a discussion offering insights into the creative process, it’s richly rewarding to hear directly from artists who can share their own experiences. This August, Oklahoma Contemporary offers a variety of ways for visitors and students to connect with art and artists.
On Saturday afternoons, visitors can bring the family and get artistic insights from professionals. The Artist Is In lets artists hang up their shingles in our second floor Learning Gallery, where visitors get a chance to learn about art and ideas connected to ArtNow 2021 (and create some of their own). The current theme is Think Like an Artist, which takes visitors through the steps of creativity — observation, synthesis, experimentation and communication — as they make with materials that could become their next great works of art. With a free ticket to see the exhibitions on view, visitors can get direct knowledge from the artists while also absorbing wisdom from the walls.
“We are inviting artists every Saturday from 12 to 4 o'clock to create art with our visitors,” said Jaime Thompson, director of education and public programs. “Two of the artists that will be part of this group, Mandy Messina and Amy Maguire, are actually from the exhibition. The rest are artists we've worked with in different ways through our family programming, so they can explore themes, methods and processes from the show, but in a way that's approachable for the hobbyist or the general visitor.”
This Saturday, Aug. 7, local artist Maria Wood will explore ArtNow 2021 artist Gabriel Rojas’s use of bright colors and big organic shapes using mess-free paint. Visitors will create their own colorful 2-D abstract art piece that’s sure to be frame worthy.
Maguire will be in the Learning Gallery on Aug. 21, demonstrating her unique collage-making techniques. With Maguire’s guidance, visitors will make and take home their own collage. On Sept. 4, Messina, whose ceramic work Kombuis Taa is on view in ArtNow 2021, will help visitors create their own talavera tile. Keep an eye out for details about other upcoming Think Like an Artist sessions, ran by our teaching artists.
Programs held during Thursday Night Late, when the galleries are open into the evening for visitors to explore, also offer ways to make contact with artists and discover how they do what they do. At 7 p.m. Aug. 12, ArtNow 2021 artists Messina, Kyle Larson and Rea Baldridge will take part in a “lively discussion about contemporary art in Oklahoma” with guest curator Helen Opper and Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis.
“We're calling it the Pulse of the Plains, and we're really asking the artists as well as the curator what they have discovered about contemporary art in Oklahoma,” Thompson said. “Is it different from other states? How is it unique? How does it represent who we are today, and how is this exhibition kind of a little capsule of that? So, in a way it's the ‘state of the state of contemporary art.’ It should be a really enjoyable talk for anyone who just wants to get their head around what makes Oklahoma's art unique.”
Later this month, our Friday Night Series of paid workshops migrates to Thursdays to complement the slate of other Thursday Night Late programs. On Aug. 26, Abstract Works will help students understand one of the most difficult styles to discuss: abstract art. The goal of this casual, 21+ workshop is to help the beholder see the beauty of some artworks that require study, interpretation and perhaps a little squinting, including some from ArtNow 2021. They’ll also make their own abstract pieces. The workshop is free of judgment but with plenty of table service from Café Contemporary to help the creativity flow.
“That one focuses on what abstraction is and how do we make it,” Thompson said. It's kind of a fun route for folks who are a little nervous about making abstract art to learn a little bit more about it.”
Those fun routes are available to young artistic travelers, too. Thompson and her team also planned a Second Saturday that helps kids experiment and even make some abstract art of their own. Second Saturday: Art Laboratory, held from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 14, will offer children the raw materials and directions to explore how colors, materials and imaginations combine to create art.
“If you've got a youngster or you're an adult you're wondering, ‘Hey, what's the next step in my artistic career,’ this is where to start,” Thompson said.
Join us this eventful August to hear from and work with artists who are on view in our galleries or teach in our community! No tickets are required for Second Saturday or the Learning Gallery, but get your Pulse of the Plains tickets here.
Images: Kyle Larson, The Painter's Dilemma, 2020. Oil on canvas. 78 x 96 inches. Collection of the artist. © Kyle Larson. Photo courtesy of the artist. Karam, Arirang, 2018. Mixed media on canvas. 30 x 24 x 2 inches. Collection of the artist. © Karam. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Return to New Light.