Exhibition highlights variety of disciplines and demographics, plus honors Bert Seabourn with inaugural ArtNow Focus award
OKLAHOMA CITY | July 26, 2021 — As befits a state that is home to Native Americans, immigrants, refugees and the descendants of slaves, Oklahoma art contains multitudes. Opening to the public July 30, ArtNow 2021 — the first in Oklahoma Contemporary’s new downtown home — proudly displays the rich diversity of the state’s art community.
In its new biennale format, ArtNow 2021 features 27 Oklahoma artists, led by 2021 Focus Award honoree Bert Seabourn. The inaugural award recognizes the multitalented printmaker, painter and sculptor, who taught at Oklahoma Contemporary for years, for his contribution to the state’s cultural landscape.
ArtNow 2021 hosts 114 works by the following artists, including Seabourn:
- Sarah Ahmad
- Rea Baldridge
- Hoesy Corona
- Chase Kahwinhut Earles
- Josh Jaiye Farrell
- Edward Grady
- Raven Halfmoon
- Melissa Jacobs
- Kreg Kallenberger
- Carrie Kouts
- Sam Ladwig
- Kyle Larson
- Sarah Leis
- Kalup Linzy
- Amy Maguire
- Leigh Martin
- Simphiwe Mbunyuza
- Mandy Messina
- Nicole Moan
- Audrey Peck
- Gabriel Rojas
- Tanni’ (Tyra Shackleford)
- Scott Vo
- Dan Worcester
Curated by guest curator Helen Opper and guest curatorial associate Liz Blood, ArtNow 2021 takes visitors through an exciting array of Oklahoma art, ranging from Moan’s ceramic corsets and Kout’s haunting sculptures to Ahmad’s innovatively composed photography and XVALA’s pop cultural meditations on consumerism.
“ArtNow 2021 features the work of 27 artists whose practices reflect the vibrant diversity of Oklahoma and of contemporary art,” the curators said in a statement. “There is no one style or form of ‘Oklahoma art’ or one type of ‘Oklahoma artist’ — Oklahoma artists are Indigenous, Black, White, Latinx, Asian, Queer, Nonbinary, Immigrants, Native Oklahomans and everything in between. Art made in Oklahoma is a reflection and adaptation of long-held traditional creative practices as well as an indicator of innovative, investigative, global contemporary artistic modes of production.”
ArtNow 2021 echoes Oklahoma Contemporary’s collective desire to provide a wide range of artistic experiences under one roof, and the exhibition reflects how Oklahoma is in an unusual position to provide such a diversity of experiences.
“In addition to our third-floor gallery (which is dedicated to Oklahoma artists), it’s important to showcase Oklahoma artists in our main gallery, with the attention and thought that goes into our biggest exhibitions,” said Eddie Walker, executive director. “We are committed to fostering both emerging and established Oklahoma artists, and we enjoy assembling artists from a wide range of experience and styles.”
The artists in ArtNow 2021 showcase that diversity across both disciplines and demographics: including Pakistani-born Ahmad, queer Mexican Corona, Caddo artists Earles and Halfmoon, Korean-American acrylics artist Karam and South Africans Simphiwe Mbunyusa and Mandy Messina. According to Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis, the state’s increasingly multicultural population is expanding the types of art being made in Oklahoma.
“The Oklahoma arts scene has exploded in the three decades since the first iteration of ArtNow,” Davis said. “At the time of the exhibition’s inception, there were fleetingly few venues around the state where local living artists could exhibit their work. A lot has changed since then, and ArtNow has been a key part of this change.”
“In the spirit of continual evolution, the inaugural edition of ArtNow in Oklahoma Contemporary’s new building embraces a biennial model and expanded format,” Davis continued. “Featuring over two dozen artists from across the state, this exhibition celebrates and explores the rich array of creative expression present in today’s Oklahoma. From painting to video, ceramics to jewelry design, this edition of ArtNow is not to be missed.”
In addition to the new, biennial format, ArtNow fans will find another change: Art is no longer being sold off the walls. ArtNow has evolved from an art sale and party to a full-fledged exhibition, on view in the Eleanor Kirkpatrick Main Gallery through Sept. 13.
As always, admission to Oklahoma Contemporary is free. Visitors can reserve their slot at okcontemp.org/tickets.