Welcome to 2008, folks. Hopefully by now everyone has recovered from his or her New Year's hangover, and you're well on your way to losing 20 pounds, quitting smoking and being a better person. I think, though, rather than squander a perfect resolution on something you'll probably forget about or rebel against in a week anyway, why not resolve to make a change that will matter? Something that will really make you a better person?
I offer you, albeit a little late, a few New Year's resolution ideas:
See more local art. Get out of your head whatever preconceived notions you have of what an art gallery is "supposed to be like" or how they're portrayed in films and just go. Give it a chance.
Visit a museum. Not because I or your mother or your teacher told you to, but because you want to spend a Saturday enriching your life.
Read a book. Please. Maybe even more than one.
Go hear the Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra or Tulsa Signature Symphony. And stop making fun of people who see these groups' productions on a regular basis.
Stop hating Tulsa while you're at it. Every time you think, "There's nothing to do here" (I'm imagining a really high-pitched, whiny voice here), pick up an Urban Tulsa and go do something.
Granted, if you're a regular reader of this column, you probably do all of these things anyway. So, pass this on to your far less hip, less cultured friends, and, for you, maybe resolve to drink or smoke more.
If you are thinking of adopting one of my suggested resolutions, you're in luck. A few of our local galleries are opening new exhibits this weekend, and they could be just what you need to start your year on the right foot.
Living Arts of Tulsa is diving right into 2008, with three new exhibits opening this Thurs., Jan. 3.
As a whole, the show is called "Life.
War. Truth," and it includes "Domestic Dilemmas of Survival" by Kansas City-based artist Ascot Smith, "The Great Leap Northward" by Oklahoma City-based artist Eric Humphries and "BioIndustrial" by OKC-based artist Kjelshus Collins.
"Domestic Dilemmas of Survival" is an installation involving three five-inch black and white TV/radios set atop a four-foot white pillar. On each monitor is a looping short scenario, which the viewer watches separately before coming to a conclusion about the series as a whole.
The scenarios show the artist in some seemingly mundane act or routine, but, as with most of his work, Smith is attempting to comment on fantasy versus a usually boring reality. His subjects have to battle themselves, to distract themselves from their boredom and insecurity, and the conflict in which they are involved is almost always imaginary.
"Boredom is synonymous with the Midwest," writes Smith in his artist's statement. "A grey wash covers Kansas City; cornstalks, wheat fields, sheep or cattle do not preoccupy my day. City life has the ability to be numbingly comfortable due to an ease in living condition. Escapism is vital for survival in the Midwest and is the subject of my narratives."
"The Great Leap Northward" consists of acrylic paintings on custom and commercially made canvases, and cartoonist renditions of historical and current events, such as the Mai Lai massacre, the bombing of Hiroshima and the Iraq war.
Of his work, Humphries has said, "People see my art in many different lights. Some people get right away what I am trying to do and congratulate me. Others are appalled and afraid. And then there are those people who get angry. Sometimes I think they are angry because the paintings force them to go places they would rather not be--real places they pretend don't exist. Really bad places."
Humphries also said his style of painting and the bright, bold colors he chooses allow him to exaggerate his drawings, portraying the broadest range of emotion possible.
You may have seen the prelude to Collins' "BioIndustrial" at last year's New Genre festival at Nightingale Theater. His piece, "Omission," was part of the performance cabaret and was an experiment in sensory deprivation. The artist locked himself inside of what looked like a gas chamber, where he was deprived of all of his senses but audio, which he actually controlled and magnified into the audience. This weekend's work also involved biological, chemical and industrial components.
In his exhibit, Collins attempts to examine the difference between God's creations and what is manmade--and how humans try to play God. Instead of sticking to material things, we try to take upon ourselves the creation and dissolution of life via cloning, often with disastrous results. Collins does this by putting on display found and made objects--some of which many of us have experienced in common relationships--in a way that urges us to see them in a new light.
"In this exhibit, I am trying to evoke feelings of uncomfort, but not through terror or gore," writes Collins in his artist's statement. "I do not do this because I am a generally cruel person, but rather because I have deep feelings for where we are taking our planet."
"Life. War. Truth." opens with a reception Thursday from 5 to 8pm. An artists' talk will begin at 6:30pm, and the exhibit will hang at Living Arts, 308 S. Kenosha, through January 24. Gallery hours are Thursdays 5-8pm and Saturdays 1-4pm or by appointment. The exhibit is free and open, but donations are welcome and keep the lights on. For more info, visit www.livingarts.org.
In Other News...
Also opening this weekend is "Regarding Whimsy: To See the Serene," an exhibit of sculpture by Eric Baker at the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery, 9 E. Brady.
Baker uses glass and steel to create a somewhat abstract, inherently organic sculpture that he hopes will evoke feelings of humor and contemplation.
The exhibit opens with an artist's reception Fri., Jan. 4 from 6 to 9pm. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 11am-2pm and Thursday through Saturday evenings 6-9pm. The exhibit is free and open. For more info, head to www.tacgallery.org.
After that, you can head to Club 209, The Arts Bar, at Boulder and Brady for "Body Power," an exhibition of drawings and paintings of the human form by Nat McKnight. The opening is 8-11pm, and gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday 5pm-2am. For more info on this and other Art Bar happenings, visit www.club209tulsa.com.
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