Oklahoma Contemporary
Jose Dávila
A large boulder sits underneath steel beam, balancing on top of the rock. The rock sits on two other beams. A large, reflective building sits in the background with a blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

New Light

Sept. 21, 2022

From Guadalajara to OKC: A Look at La casa

19 artists, ~50 works and two cities

Sea-foam green ceramic bottles and salmon ceramic bars of soap sit in a pile in a corner with white walls. Some pieces look deflated and crumpled.
Renata Petersen's Limpieza karmática express (2019)

From outdoors to in, La casa que nos inventamos: Contemporary Art From Guadalajara pulls out all the stops. Gonzalo Lebrija’s gravity-defying sculpture suspends above a reflective pool in Campbell Art Park, Eduardo Sarabia’s vivid vines crawl their way to the top of the Showroom, and Jose Dávila's balancing beams sit rigid on the front lawn. Inside, Renata Petersen’s karmic ceramic creation welcomes guests, with Claudia Cisneros’ performative piece — a nod to OKC and Guadalajara alike — filling the Creative Lounge. And that’s just the first floor!

“This beautiful, immersive exhibition dives deep into an exciting scene in Mexico, and prompts vital questions: What makes for a fertile creative community? What defines the cultural language of a city?” says Kate Green, director of curatorial affairs (guest). “As the title suggests, the answers lie within the artworks, artists and dynamic city — in the beautiful house they have together invented.”

Five long, steel beams are installed in a corner. The first starts on the floor, welded to the second which zig-zags up to the third that is leaning against the wall. The fourth beam is flesh against the corner, meeting the fifth beam on the floor.
Francisco Ugarte'a Dibujo de acero 6 (2022).

La casa que nos inventamos, which translates to “The house that we invented,” has transported the Eleanor Kirkpatrick Main Gallery to Guadalajara. Giant, ceramic vessels stand tall upon entry, Sarabia’s vases embellished with all things “contraband,” while lounging, leaning steel beams sit to the left. Their tension present a string of what ifs: What if we move the beams? Will the walls collapse? Will the corner concave?

“This exhibition is so exciting and accessible for our audiences,” says Jaime Thompson, director of education. “It not only showcases beautiful works, but art that’s coming from Mexico that makes sense to our Oklahoma audience.”

“There’s a tie to ceramics, with Frankoma Pottery, as well as the fact that we have multiple traditions — think of our Indigenous artists. Our Studio School celebrates the practice, too; Oklahoma has a huge pottery scene. Additionally, I think the works will get people to start thinking about the fact that even though OKC and Guadalajara are hundreds of miles apart, we’re really not that different. We’re all part of the southern plains that reach into Mexico as well.”

Two large, terracotta colored vessles stand. The have darker colored scenes painted on them. We can see gardening gear, smoke and a naked woman.
Eduardo Sarabia's Untitled (Guamuchil) and Untitled (Farmer John) (2019)

Sweeping to the opposite side of the gallery, Octavio Abúndez’ 256 like-sized, multicolor canvases are hard to miss — the collage-like piece owns an entire wall. Utilizing excerpts from literature, science, religion, film, law and spirituality, Abúndez’ work invites viewers to engage with the culmination of these categories into a lively collective, much like the evolution of Guadalajara itself.

“For anyone who has ever wondered how an arts scene grows from tender seeds to a thriving ecosystem, this show is a must-see,” says Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis.

And he’s absolutely correct. This exhibition is not only rich with vastly different mediums — from murals to videos and photographs to sculptures — the artists themselves also bring a vast array of intentionality, experience and creativity.

256 multi-colored canvases form a large, rectangle artwork. We can see small words printed on the canvases.
Octavio Abúndez' A Utopian History of Humanity (2019)

“Many of these artists are emerging,” Thompson says. “One of the things I’ve loved working with Pablo Barrera, our associate curator who puts together our Oklahoma Gallery exhibitions, is getting to see the emerging artists here in Oklahoma. I feel the same vibe with these artists coming out of Guadalajara, which include emerging artists, and of course some big names as well.”

A part of a newer generation of artists emerging from Guadalajara, peach (and other Open House performances) invites activity into the exhibition. (picnics), her participatory artwork for La casa que nos inventamos, asks a group of individuals to pause, engage and reflect through prompts meant to access care of self and community. (picnics) builds an intimate, curated moment for a select few metro residents.

A large, quilted fiber piece hangs on the hang. It has dark and light green, orange, white, black and dark and light blue colors. Words written in black, bold letters, in Spanish, sit in the middle of a white box on the quilt.
peach's (picnics) (2022)

"This project has forced me to create from my most vulnerable corners, even when I felt I couldn't make it," peach writes in an Instagram post. "Understand this as my work (internal and external), my offering and my meeting point with others."

Her quilted fiber work, which will actually rest beneath participants in the program, will hang across from the Learning Gallery. The colors, pattern and Spanish messages all usher in feelings of warmth and welcome, a threshold of community as you enter the house these 19 artists invented.

From massive outdoor sculptures, a sprawling mural and lively performances to thoughtful paintings and contemplative textures, La casa que nos inventamos bridges Guadalajara and OKC. Celebrate with us, the Mexican curator Viviana Kuria and many of the artists this weekend at Open House, Sept. 23-24. Admission is free — all are welcome.


Jose Dávila, Untitled, 2022. Metal and boulder. Dimensions variable.

Renata Petersen, Limpieza karmática express/Karmic cleansing express, 2019. 250 glazed ceramic units. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Pequod Co.

Francisco Ugarte, Dibujo de acero 6/Steel drawing 6, 2022. Steel. Dimensions variable.

Eduardo Sarabia Untitled (Guamuchil)/Sin título (Guamuchil) and Untitled (Farmer John)/Sin título (Granjero John), 2019. Hand-painted ceramic vase and wood box. 73 x 20 in. diameter (vases). 24 x 77.5 x 24 in. (boxes). Courtesy of OMR, Mexico City.

Octavio Abúndez, A Utopian History of Humanity/Una historia utópica de la humanidad, 2019. 256 canvases, acrylic paint on canvas. 6 x 12 x 1 in. each.

peach, (picnics), 2022. Quilt, prompts, notebook.

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