Duane Fernandez wants to make Tulsa the design capital of the Midwest.
His first attempt, the "Right to Left" art exhibition, opened last Friday at Artifacts Gallery, 819 E. 3rd Street, downtown.
"Right to Left" is an exhibition of multimedia art and design that explores the most recent work of a diverse group of artists that have been driving the visual aesthetic of today's pop culture.
Fernandez is the curator of the exhibit.
"Right to Left" is a traveling exhibition. It started in Carrboro, North Carolina at the Wootini gallery at the beginning of May. Tulsa was the next stop in the exhibit's cross-country tour, and "Right to Left" will remain on display for two weeks here before heading to the Super7 gallery in San Francisco.
Fernandez wanted to make sure that this unique body of work was displayed in places that would not typically have had the opportunity to experience it.
"Right to Left" is the premiere exhibition of Left Field Project.
Fernandez is the creator of Left Field Project, a business venture that pays homage to the artistic styles and figures who have influenced West coast surf and skate style.
He will soon open up a local boutique/exhibition space named LFP, the acronym of his current business.
For the last five years, Left Field Projects has involved over 450 people worldwide, including artists, designers, skaters, surfers, cinematographers and musicians.
Fernandez began his business by interviewing the ten most inspirational figures in his life. This was sparked by a natural curiosity as to how the interviewees reached success in their fields.
The name "Left Field Projects" came from one of his first interviews.
"I started my business without a name. I wanted the name to come organically as the time passed. My interview with Tommy Guerrero (original member of the Bones Brigade skateboarding team) was very inspirational to me," he said.
"I asked him, 'What's your advice for someone trying to break into your field of work?' He replied, 'Left field, let it grow and trim when necessary.' I thought that was an insightful statement, so the name 'Left Field' stuck," Fernandez elaborated.
Fernandez, himself a visual artist, has always been influenced by graffiti art and culture.
He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of Arizona. Throughout his life, however, Fernandez has traveled the world and taken inspiration from his journeys.
"There isn't really a venue for young, popular art here in the Midwest like you find in California and New York.
I have worked here in Tulsa professionally for a while, and I have met many young people who appreciate quality design," said Fernandez.
"Left to Right" is the first stepping stone to create an environment for those people.
There is a "high power" line-up of artists and creators involved whom, although the names are mostly unrecognizable to the common person, Fernandez claims are responsible for driving the entire subculture of popular art in this country.
The two "headliners" of the show are Andy Mueller and Morning Breath.
Andy Mueller is the creative director of Lakai and the art director at Girl, a skateboard company.
Morning Breath is a collaboration of artists Doug Cunningham and Jason Noto. This duo began work in 1996 as skateboard designers and their business has grown to include gaming, advertising, clothing and music packaging.
Look at Kanye West and Eminem's album art and you will see the work of Morning Breath. For "Left to Right," they have created a series of 5'x 5' panels.
Also contributing to the exhibit is Brian Flynn, who helped create the designer toy phenomenon in the US. Flynn opened a store in San Fransisco called "Super7" which displayed his vinyl toy designs. A magazine followed, and the rest is history.
Flynn's "Ghosts and Robots" will be on display. The project includes toys that are hand-carved from wood and created to resemble his original vinyl pieces.
A skate video directed by Spike Jonez will be projected on the wall during the opening and work by Ethan Anderson, Vice President and creative director of Volcom, will also be on display.
"There is a fine mix of fine art and pop art represented in the show. We have original oils and limited edition prints. What started out as just a collection of screenprints grew to a diverse show. The common thread throughout is the urban influence on the work," stated Fernandez.
The work of Duane Fernandez will also be included in the show.
A painter who enjoys layers, texture and depth, Fernandez also has a personal attachment to his work.
"My work is somewhat minimal. The idea of conveying a thought with the most simple information is very powerful to me," he said.
Having mastered the technique behind realism, Fernandez began to find it boring and predictable. By removing colors and shadows, he strips the image down to its bare essentials.
"I work in many media, from oil, latex and spray paint to marker. Anything goes. Stenciling is something that is a big part of my process, but my stencils start out as original drawings and I cut them out too. I paint these on top of a multilayered surface that consists of personal journal entries written out and painted over and over again," he explained.
The art of "Left to Right" is for sale, but not in the traditional sense. Being a traveling exhibit, Fernandez wanted to ensure that the show in its entirety would be able to be viewed at all three venues.
In order for this to happen, the works are available for purchase by auction. Buyers may bid on a piece, and by the end of the exhibit, the highest bidder wins.
There will also be original prints for sale.
"Left to Right" will remain on display until next Monday, June 16.
Once the show comes down at Artifacts, Fernandez will focus his efforts on converting the former art gallery to LFP, a boutique/exhibition space.
"I traveled to Tokyo as a kid and visited a skate shop that had a profound impact on me. The space will be totally minimal. People will think it's an art gallery, and we will have featured artists' work on display. But also prints, graphic tees and anything else having to do with design."
Throw in some turntables and you've got a hip spot for the cool kids to hang out. LFP is scheduled to open July 1 so look out for that.
"My mother was an artist and my father a business man, so Left Field Projects is a way for me to express the balance of art and business that is in me," concluded Fernandez.
In Other News
"Serendipity: TAC's Annual Juried Members Show" remains on display this month through June 28 at the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery, 9 East Brady. The opening reception was also last week, but gallery hours are from 6-9pm, Thursday through Saturday. Daytime hours are available by appointment only.
This exhibit was juried by Diane Salamon of Color Connection, Kristy Lewis Andrew (artist) and C.S. Tomlin, painter and art teacher.
Given the diverse artistic visions of TAC members, viewers will discover art that is, like the title suggests, a happy accident or discovery of something valuable.
Artist J.P. Morrison received "Best of Show" for her mixed media work "A Medicine of Cherries." Juror's Choice awards go to James Gaar's "Transformation," Daniel Gulick's "11483," and Eleanor Davy Carmack's "Model."
For more information, call 592-0041, or go to www.tacgallery.org.
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