POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2010:
Crafting Its Niche
VisionMakers exhibit comes back to Tulsa after long-awaited return
Fitting a Pattern. More than 20 years after its first exhibit in Tulsa, VisionMakers returns under the Brady Craft Alliance to host this year’s exhibit at Living Arts, including works by Pamela Husky and Linda Coward. Shown: “Osage” by Kreg Kallenberger.
After a 22-year absence, VisionMakers, one of Oklahoma's most unique art exhibitions, is returning home to Tulsa.
The show highlights the most exceptional talent in fine craft that Oklahoma has to offer ranging from clay to woodwork to fibers. VisionMakers is sponsored by the Brady Craft Alliance and will be hosted by Living Arts beginning Sept. 3. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, Sept. 11 from 6 until 9pm at the gallery.
Oklahoma craft is not what it used to be. In the past, craft has been beautiful but always functional in comparison with traditional fine art such as painting or sculpture.
Art, today, will likely be remembered in art history as a time when all forms of art extended the boundaries of their expectations and blurred the distinction of what art could look like. Contemporary craft is in the midst of this transition as it has reached a state where it is no longer functional but artistic and conceptual.
River by VisionMakers artist Pamela Husky is a multi-dimensional tapestry that is so inventive and unexpected in the application of its fibers that the piece reads more like an expressionistic painting than a weaving.
Another VisionMakers artist, Linda Coward said in her artist statement, "I work in clay, using it like a canvas." Coward's work in the exhibit, titled Landscapes III, is a series of vessels held together by organic shapes and rich, indulgent colors. Both the work of Husky and Coward exemplify the way in which craft has transformed from its functional traditions to a level of creativity that can only be categorized as fine art.
VisionMakers began in 1988, where it was originally held at Tulsa's Philbrook Museum. The following year, the event took place in Tulsa again at the Bank of Oklahoma Tower.
In 1990, VisionMakers fell under the sponsorship of the Oklahoma Visual Artists Coalition (OVAC) who has hosted VisionMakers every other year at various venues around the state. With the birth of the Brady Craft Alliance in December 2009, Tulsa's newest non-profit arts organization, OVAC has passed along their sponsorship of VisionMakers where it will be welcomed alongside the Brady Craft Alliance in Tulsa's thriving Brady District.
During the opening reception, as part of a tribute to VisionMakers' beginnings in Tulsa, a slideshow of the pieces from VisionMakers' first two exhibitions will play repeatedly throughout the evening.
As a young organization, the Brady Craft Alliance has eagerly accepted complete responsibility in sponsoring VisionMakers and invited Jeannine Falino, curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York to curate the event.
Of the 180 pieces submitted by artists from across the state, Falino selected 29 pieces from 23 different artists to represent the best of contemporary Oklahoma craft. Falino's decision to choose less than a quarter of the submitted pieces has made VisionMakers a highly selective exhibition and has set a high standard for the quality of work expected of Oklahoma artists.
"It is going to be a gem of a show," said Myra Block Kaiser, chair and founder of the Brady Craft Alliance.
Before the opening reception begins on Sept. 11, an Artist's Critique will be held 4-6pm at Living Arts in which Falino will discuss fine art craft in general as well as the works in the exhibition. At this time a $2,500 Juror's Choice Award, a $1,500 Award of Merit and a $1,000 Honorable Mention Award will be given to three pieces chosen by Falino.
What most distinguishes Oklahoma craft from other forms of craft being created across the country is the state's roots in a Native American tradition of hand craft with a highly developed level of skill. Any form of craft, no matter the medium, involves a certain level of skill and dedication that is difficult to acquire.
The achievements Oklahoma artists have been able to accomplish within the realm of fine craft is significant. Events such as VisionMakers and organizations such as the Brady Craft Alliance recognize the talents of these artists and are creating opportunities for craft artists to redefine what craft is and present it in modern and unconventional ways.
Highly celebrated English sculptor David Wynne will be in Oklahoma City Sept. 3-5 for the unveiling of his 1968 masterpiece, Swans in Flight, which is part of the opening celebration for the new Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond.
The unveiling will take place on Septe. 5 on the campus of Herbert W. Armstrong College in north Edmond. Swans in Flight incorporates five stages of a swan ascending into the air from a reflecting pool. Each swan weighs three-quarters of a ton with a wingspan of 13-15 feet.
In addition, Wynne will attend a book signing at Full Circle Bookstore at 50 Penn Place on Saturday, Sept. 4 from noon-2pm for his recently released biography pictorial, Boy with a Dolphin - The Life and Work of David Wynne (Quartet Books Ltd.)
Wynne is often regarded as one of the world's greatest living sculptors. His work is featured around the world and includes numerous commissions for the Royal Family of England. In 1994, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his outstanding contributions to the arts.
"We are very excited to be bringing a sculpture of this magnitude to Edmond," said Stephen Flurry, president of Armstrong College. At the age of 84, Wynne continues to work actively as an artist accepting impressive commissions.
More information is available at armstrongauditorium.org.
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