"So often, contemporary or 'pop' art is considered soulless and often rightfully so. Jeff (Ham's) work, however, is many things--none of which are soulless," said Lovetts Gallery Director Waylon Summers.
Ham is a Utah-based painter whose work is the subject of Lovetts Gallery's latest "New Works by" exhibition.
Ham began his artistic career as a commercial illustrator, and his work has been used by companies such as Keebler, Disney, Hanes, Kelloggs, McDonalds, Marlboro and Budweiser. He's also illustrated children's titles, including Black Beauty, Frankenstein, Anne of Green Gables, Sleepy Hollow and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and he's served as art director for totalhealth magazine.
Ham's work is easily recognizable, using classical techniques to create iconic, colorful images, often depicting Southwest or Native American themes, as well as nudes and landscapes.
Summers explained his accusation of pop art as "soulless" by saying, "Most pop art is considered soulless, particularly in Oklahoma, because often it has a graffiti element or 1950s or '60s feel to it, and so it gets discounted. Young artists are often pulled into that style, and they do it badly at first, and people get turned off by it."
And although Ham's style isn't necessarily unique, Summers said, his subject matter and his technique are. In painting nudes, he often paints multiple images of the same model, and he'll rework a painting again and again until he feels at peace.
Working in acrylics, Ham paints quickly and "in the moment to capture spontaneity and avoid over thinking and over working," the artist told Western Art Collector magazine in April.
After a couple of days, Ham will freshly examine his work and alter it if need be. He also takes into account the opinion of his photographer, making changes if necessary. If, a few days later, he's still not happy with the painting, Ham will simply toss it out, disregarding the time and material put into painting.
"He only keeps the ones that he really connects with," Summers explained.
"His work has nothing to do with what he's painting; it has everything to do with how he felt while he painted it," Summers said.
Ham's work was first seen at Lovetts, 6528 E. 51st St., in June and July at the "Masters of Influence" group show, in which more than artists paid tribute to famed Hopi jewelry designer Charles Loloma.
That work and five others, mostly nudes, will be on display until August 24 in the "New Works by: Jeff Ham" exhibit.
The "New Works by" series is an effort by Lovetts Gallery to fill gaps in its annual programming and to introduce Tulsa collectors to new works by artists they've either never seen before in Oklahoma or who are represented by the gallery but who have produced a new body of work.
"New Works by: Jeff Ham" opens Friday, July 25 with a reception and discussion of the artist's work from 5 to 7pm. The work will hang through Aug. 25. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm or by appointment.
The Oklahoma Arts Council announced recently that nominations for the 2009 Governor's Arts Awards will be accepted through Aug. 6.
Oklahomans are encouraged to nominate individuals and organizations that have contributed to their communities by way of the arts.
"The 34th Annual Governor's Arts Awards is an opportunity to celebrate Oklahoma arts and the people that facilitate its success," said Suzanne Tate, executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council. "During my travels, I've seen many examples across this state of how individuals, businesses, government leaders and organizations have worked to harness arts and cultural development to create economic opportunity, provide a high-quality of community life and ignite the creative potential of Oklahoma's youth."
Nomination categories are: Governor's Award, recognizing individuals for longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts in Oklahoma; Business in the Arts Award, recognizing businesses and corporations that exhibit outstand support of the arts; Media in the Arts Award, recognizing an individual member of the media who demonstrates commitment of the arts, documented through initiative, creativity, fairness and support in reporting; Arts & Education Award, recognizing an individual, organization, school, educator or group for outstanding leadership and service in the arts; Community Service Award, recognizing individuals for significant contribution in the areas of leadership and volunteerism; and George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award, recognizing an Oklahoma government official for outstanding support of the arts.
Nominees must be full-time residents of Oklahoma and/or businesses that work in and for the benefit of the state. Previous recipients are not eligible.
Recipients will be selected by members of the Governor's Arts Award Selection Committee from applications submitted by the Aug. 6 deadline. Nomination forms are available at www.arts.ok.gov or by calling the Oklahoma Arts Council at 405-521-2931.
The Oklahoma Arts Council is a state agency and has managed the Governor's Arts Awards since 1975.
Dance, Monkey, Dance!
Personality of Cult, founded by local artist and comedian (nominated for UTW's Absolute Best Comedian) Dan Fritschie and MixTape, founded by DJs Lynn K and Robbo, have teamed up to present the Mixtape Art Show on Dec. 4 at Eclipse (soon to open at Sixth Street and Peoria Avenue).
Entrance of artwork is open to the public. The deadline to enter is Aug. 30, and work is due Nov. 30.
The work must be inspired by a song that "has a good beat and you can dance to it" (to borrow the words of the immortal Dick Clark, which Mixtape organizers did). The theme of the work "must demonstrate what this song means to you personally."
December's exhibition will open with a gala/dance party featuring all of the songs chosen as inspiration for the artwork.
All media are allowed, but there are size guidelines. A non-refundable fee of $15 is due at time of entry. For a complete list of requirements as well as an entry form, e-mail Fritschie at email@example.com.
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