On a recent Saturday afternoon, 13 women and a baby gathered around a large work table in a small storefront gallery on Paseo Drive in Oklahoma City. The white walls were decorated with “Husbands, Wives and Lovers,” a group of about 15 oil paintings by Mary James Ketch, one of the women seated at the table. Frequent laughter erupted and echoed off the tile floor and high ceiling of the narrow Project Box. This was a quarterly meeting of the FRINGE collective, an evolving group of artists who share feedback, resources, support and art exhibits. The women dropped-off works for their annual show which opens Friday. During an hour-long roundtable, each artist shared with the others her current creative processes and what she envisions next.
Christie Hackler co-founded the organization in 2011 with fellow recent graduates of the University of Central Oklahoma’s fine arts program. The FRINGE roster boasts thriving metro area artists working in a variety of media, including painter and stained glass artisan Kalee Jones W., glass/metal/enamel artisan Debra Ashley, painter Van Lango, sculptor and installation/lighting designer Beatriz Mayorca. Former members include Denise Duong and co-founder Christie Owens. The new president Krystle Brewer is a Tulsa resident and the group is currently working on its expansion to T-town and smaller cities in Oklahoma.
Hackler is a sculptor of clay, metal and wood and shares a downtown studio with Mayorca. She says the collective offers encouragement and kinship, but also accountability to keep one’s art or craft active rather than on the shelf. Hackler compares the group to an old-time quilting circle, or the exercise buddy that gets you to the gym.
The artists have opened doors for one another that they could not have opened alone. Member artist Lisa Allswede directs the Project Box, a community artspace and the location of the upcoming show. A Michigan native and former educator who moved to Oklahoma City by way of Pittsburgh, she happened upon gallery ownership through FRINGE connections. She also gained support to re-enter the art world after several years dedicated to arts education and child-rearing.
“At the beginning of the creative process there’s this vulnerability. It’s important to have a group you can process your ideas with, a group that supports you in your mission and goal, and gives you the confidence to do what you’re wanting to do,” said Allswede.
During Saturday’s group check-in, Hackler discussed her recent switch to smaller sculptural works, and an increasing interest in displaying little pieces in large environments. She told the group she wants to create a mobile steel conservatory large enough for people to enter, to which she will attach her series of 300-plus ceramic butterflies.
“I just remember when I was a kid playing with a dollhouse— I wanted to get in, to be the little person in the little imaginary world,” Hackler explained.
“Don’t limit yourself to butterflies then,” Allswede said.
Ketch replied that it’s a fantastic idea to erect a space for display.
“People will want to take a piece home because they connect the work with that experience,” she said.
“Or with the person,” Allswede added.
Hackler went onto explain that making butterflies has changed her life.
“You can’t be pissed off and sad about a butterfly,” she said, expressing gratitude for having moved beyond a former focus on loss and sadness in her creative works.
“I’m gonna take her grief, since she’s done with it, and use it,” she said.
The group laughs in recognition. Bochniak explained that family drama inspired her to begin encasing the broken pieces of shell and found objects she encountered during beach walks on a recent visit home to Florida.
Some artists shared resources and ideas, but mostly the women encouraged, mmmmm’d and awwww’d at one another’s ideas and works in progress.
Laura Reese said she is working on an object installation series using her mother’s collection of 1980s fanny packs. Excitedly, other members expressed their desire to put on a fashion show.
“I’d make dresses from recycled plastic bags,” Allswede said.
Someone mentioned a French fashion show.
“Ooooohh! That would be amazing!” said a wide-eyed and suddenly giddy poet named Kerri Shadid.
The FRINGE artists discussed various projects and plans, reflecting their interests and needs. Members often team up and book shows together. Hackler said the group offers what they call a curatorial committee on request, to critique members’ work midway before a show.
“People might come in and say, ‘I’m having trouble with how to frame this,’ or ‘This area right here, what color?’” she explained. “But everybody works differently. If you need help, that’s exactly what we are here for.”
The annual FRINGE show opens with a public reception at the Project Box from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Friday, May 1 during the Paseo Arts Walk. The displayed works include wearable art and jewelry, lamps, sculpture, enamel and glass, prints, paintings and mixed media on canvas, paper and wood. The artists will be present to discuss their works, which are priced for sale between approximately 100 and 1,000 dollars. The show continues until May 30, Tuesday through Saturday during regular business hours at the gallery.
Oklahoma Arts Day at the state capitol is Tuesday, May 5. Arts advocates, supporters and more than 40 organizations from across the state gather to raise awareness about the economic and social impact of the arts on rural and urban communities by sharing their stories with state legislators. Live music and interactive art demonstrations take place throughout the capitol building between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., as well as hourly tours of the State Art Collection & Capitol Galleries by curator Clint Stone and Alyson Atchison.
With so many things to do, see, hear and experience in Central Oklahoma, the OneSix8 explores meaningful arts and entertainment options for KGOU’s dedicated listeners. Please visit our calendar of community events, where you can browse live music, performance, educational and personal development opportunities, outdoors and volunteer activities in your area. Also, you may post your own events for possible listing and on-air announcement.
We’ll be back next week with a preview of Eric Lindsay and Tracy Truel’s debut opera Ascription. It premieres Thursday, May 7 in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art gallery housing the current art forgery exhibit Intent to Deceive.
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