As if there weren't enough cool arts-related goings-on going on, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) presents its version of a pub crawl. Except it's not to pubs. And there's no booze. Sorry if I got your hopes up.
Instead of pubs, the April 20-21 tour will take visitors around the city for in-house visits to the actual studios of ten local, working artists.
Kelsey Karper, associate director of OVAC, said the tour, going on since 2002, allows a rare glimpse into an artist's head.
"We started it because it's a great way for people to get to see how art is made," she said. "A lot of people never get that chance. They just get to see the final product."
The tour itself is a self-guided one, and tourists can either pick up their passport to the event online at tulsaartstudio.org for a whopping $5, or visit the site and find a map of all the studios on the tour, and then purchase the passport upon arriving at any of the studios. Those tickets are $10 each.
Karper said the tour strives for variety in all its aspects.
"Each year, we feature about ten or so artists," she said. "They're selected based on creating a diversity of media and style and even the spaces that they're in. Some people are in their garage, some are on their kitchen table, and some have big studios. That's all important to the committee to give the spectrum of the way artists work."
Among the artists is Val Esparza, owner of T-Town Teez and printer of some of your favorite Tulsa-themed shirts. He prints his shirts out of his own home. While that makes for a short commute, it also means limited space for working, storing, and just plain living. With that in mind, he said that the studio tour comes at a time that seems to herald the end of an era for him.
"I'm moving out of this house in May, so this will be a good peek where people can see where this has come from, and see it in its raw element," Esparza said. "People can see this happening in a garage as opposed to a warehouse downtown."
Richard and Kathy Wills also have home studios on the tour. For Richard, that actually affects his method of presentation.
As a printmaker who often carves his printing images into wood, his craft involves sharp knives. And time. With people traipsing in and out of his studio, that could get dicey.
"What I do is called relief," he explained. "I take an image and transfer that image onto the piece of wood. Then I take my carving tools, and the angle is that as I remove material, what's left is a raised image. Once I get that carved, I ink the surface, and then I print it. The image that you see is what I didn't carve away."
But yeah, those carving tools are, well, knives.
"I've been trying to decide how I'm going to be showing what I do," Richard said. "I'm not going to be carving, because I don't really want a bunch of knives out when people are standing around talking. I'm going to have a few different plates in different stages of being carved. I don't know if I'll be able to keep ink fresh all day, but that's goal -- to be able to have people interact with the medium, rather than just walking through and looking at it."
Esparza will demonstrate not only his studio, but his whole screen-printing process, which involves much more than just t-shirts.
ARE WE THERE YET?/RICHARD WILLS
"I am going to be showing people how the screen printing process works and showing how every step works -- from how to make a screen to how to do multiple colors on a print," he said.
At all the studios, there will be art available for purchase.
"I think we're just going to be doing posters, and not shirts," he said. "But posters with a couple of my designs."
All of the artists involved look forward to different elements of the studio tour coming to roost in their creative (and sometimes actual) homes.
Wills looks forward the most to showing off how his art gets made."For me, a lot of printmaking is the process," he said. He also hopes to do a little general education, as well.
"I have students and a lot of people who think 'printmaking' means 'posters,'" he said of his summer art camp students. "They haven't been exposed to anything else. I want people to see what printmaking can be."
Esparza's printing press is a huge machine.
"It's a 600-pound machine," he explained. "And the dryer is 200 pounds, as well. They're big machines, like six feet in diameter. I call it The Phenom. It's just massive."
And while he's glad to have The Phenom, he's quick to point out that a giant machine isn't something a silkscreener absolutely must have.
"I have mine because I got lucky and got a great deal, but anyone can do this," he said.
Aside from Esparza and the Wills, other artists include painters, sculptors, even a puppeteer (yes, I said "puppeteer").
The event continues to draw bigger groups every year, according to Karper.
"Last year, we had about 400 people come through all the studios. Of course, it depends a little on the weather, but we're usually pretty lucky in that aspect," Karper said.
And don't worry -- Karper is doing her best to have the artists present real, working studios (that means not pristine).
"We actually hope that the artists don't do too much cleaning up, because you do want to see that mess that sometimes is all about the process," she said. "So yeah, we sometimes tell them not to clean up. Because then they might not get to see the process."
The Tulsa Art Studio Tour will be held Friday and Saturday, April 20-21 from 12-5pm. Tickets and more information can be found online at tulsaartstudiotour.com.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Arts to email@example.com.
Share this article: