With only 20 days left until about half of the country's eligible voters make their selections for the next U.S. Prez (and 21 days until everyone, including those who stayed home, begin their grumbling about the election's results), Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S. Rockford, is celebrating American government and local art with a politically-charged event.
"Political Poster Print Action" kicks off Philbrook Museum's newest educational outreach effort, Third Thursdays.
As explained by Philbrook's Director of Education Sarah Jesse, Third Thursday is an opportunity to engage infrequent or first-time Philbrook patrons with a fun and educational event.
"We're different from other museums that just have parties," Jesse said. "We still want to offer an educational experience and have people learn something, but in a fun way."
And there will be a party.
On Thursday, Oct.18, beginning at about 5pm and lasting until 8pm, Philbrook patrons who pay admission will also get access to a cash bar and the opportunity to make their own political posters.
"It's a way for Philbrook to respond to the things people care about and serve as a community hub," said Jesse.
The museum has invited four area artists to create politically-themed (but fairly neutral or, at least, balanced) artwork for the event. The artists, Oklahoma City-based Marwin Begaye, Cushing-based Robert Smith, Tulsa-based May Yang and Tulsa-based Kelly Foshee, will each set up a station with about three original pieces of artwork. Guests will be given a poster-sized piece of paper and asked to visit each artist's station, where the artist will screen print the image(s) of choice to the guest's poster.
While Jesse said at the time of our interview she hadn't seen all of the artists' work, she had seen a couple of Smith's images and was excited about the humorous angle the artist took.
Smith, who always works primarily in screen print (but who usually chooses to forgo human subjects in favor Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head), explained that each artist will bring one large background image to the event and two smaller focus images. His background image will likely include stars, stripes or other American insignia, but the two smaller images are what got Jesse giggling.
One of Smith's images is of a yin and yang; on the yin side is Barack Obama's face and, on the yang, John McCain's.
His inspiration for another picture came when he Googled images of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
"I came across an image (taken) before the Democratic National Convention, of two guys holding (Clinton's) pantsuits up next to the podium to see which one looked best," Smith said. (I found a link to the image at weirdnews.about.com. Search the site for "pantsuit dem convention," and it'll come up.)
Smith translated the scene to a drawing of Clinton and Palin with the words "Just say no to pantsuits" drawn below them.
He explained the process of printmaking, whereby the original artwork is made into a film and transferred to a screen by a process called photo emulsion. The screen is a photo stencil made from a piece of polyester stretched over a frame, and the artist uses the rubber blade of a squeegee to force the ink through the screen and onto the paper.
Jesse said patrons will have the opportunity to make more than one poster and mingle while their posters dry. They'll have access to the rest of the museum, which is one of the purposes of the event.
I asked Jesse if this was an event geared toward Tulsa's young professional crowd, and she said no.
"The series is not really tailored toward a younger demographic but a younger psychographic," she said. "It's for people who are interested in hanging out with friends and want to learn something new. I would never want someone who's in her 40s to say, 'That event is not for me.' It's for everyone who wants to do something cool."
And it is definitely cool.
"You know it's a good project when it's something you would want to do," Jesse said.
Smith, who got involved in the project through a reference to Philbrook's Susan Green from Mark Sisson, an instructor at Oklahoma State University, has been a printmaker for more than 30 years, and his work often involves some element of social commentary, political avowal, humor and/or satire. He told UTW he's excited to be involved in the project for a couple of reasons.
"I think it's great that the museum called living artists and asked them to do something," Smith said. "You usually think of museums as showing the work of dead artists."
He also said, "I've paid more attention to politics this year than I normally do, first because of the project and then because of the (nature of the election)."
Hopefully others are paying attention as well. 2004's presidential election saw the highest voter turnout the U.S. has experienced since 1968 at 60.7 percent. And with local, state and U.S. House and Senate seats up for grabs, the voting public has a lot to consider on Nov. 4.
And it's got Thursday night to hang out and chat about it over drinks and propaganda manufacturing.
Radio station Z104.5 The Edge's DJ Demko will provide background noise as the evening's disc jockey.
"We asked him to throw some patriotic music in there with the techno or whatever," Jesse said. "We thought it'd be a funny juxtaposition."
Not every Third Thursday event will be politically-themed, Jesse said. November's event, sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Tulsa, will feature Jay Shuster, an animator with Pixar who worked on films Cars and WALL-E. He'll discuss his work on those films, Pixar's creative process and what it's like to work for the company.
In December, local collaborative Live4This (recently featured in UTW's Annual Manual) will create a piece live before attending patrons, who will also have the opportunity to work collaboratively on large canvases hung specifically for that purpose.
And in January, Chip Kidd, whom Jesse called a "rock star in the graphic art world," will be on hand to share with event goers his creative process.
Each Third Thursday event is free to the public with paid museum admission, $7.50, and will offer a live DJ and cash bar. For more information, philbrook.org.
He just can't quit. After promising to hang up his knee-high leather boots after last year's production, Chad Oliverson returns yet again as Dr. Frank-N-Furter for American Theatre Company's Rocky Horror Show. Other veteran cast members Carmen Garrison (Janet), Michael Ervin (Rocky), Bob Odle (Narrator), Mike Pryor (Riff Raff) and Samantha Barrios (Magenta) also return for the play's fourth run, which shows Oct. 16 at 7:30pm, Oct. 17-18 and 22-25 at 8pm and Oct. 19 at 2pm in the PAC's John H. Williams Theatre.
Sat., Oct. 18, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra presents "A Winning Combo," with guest conductor David Lockington. TSO will perform works by Sawyers, Prokofiev and Dvorak beginning at 7:30pm in the PAC'S Chapman Music Hall. Tickets are $5-60.
And, finally, National Public Radio's StoryCorps project will be in Tulsa Oct. 23-Nov. 15. The project allows family members to interview one another in a mini studio, an Airsteam trailer that will be set up on the Williams Green at 3rd and Boston.
"We've found that the process of interviewing a friend, neighbor, or family member can have a profound impact on both the interviewer and the interviewee," says David Isay, the producer behind StoryCorps. "We've seen people change, friendships grow, families walk away feeling closer, understanding each other better."
A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides the interview and handles all of the technical aspects involved in recording it. At the end of a 40-minute session, participants walk away with a CD recording of the interview, and with their permission, a copy of the CD is sent to the Library of Congress.
To reserve a time for your interview, visit storycorps.net or call 800-850-4406.
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