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Visual Arts

Owens’ field

Local artist Romy Owens has earned a gig that’s literally high-profile: For the next year, her studio is streetside in the Skirvin Hilton.

Shelly Hickman October 3rd, 2012

In its storied, 101-year history, the Skirvin Hilton Hotel has accommodated some of the most influential people in the world, but no one until now — other than its legendary ghost, Effie, of course — stays for an entire year.

Yet, in partnership with the Paseo Arts Association, the Skirvin announced last week that local artist Romy Owens is to be its first artist in residence. As such, she will work and exhibit at the downtown hotel for the next year.

Her studio space is already created and accessible from within the Skirvin, open to hotel guests and visitors, as well as prominently visible from Broadway Avenue.

Skirvin General Manager Martin van der Laan said Marcus Hotels & Resorts, which operates the Skirvin, has implemented successful artist-in-residence programs at other properties, including its flagship Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, as part of the corporation’s commitment to the arts.

Using those programs as a model, the Skirvin began working with the Paseo Arts Association this summer to solicit applications for its first artist in residence. Finalists were narrowed to 12, then to three, and then a juried panel of representatives from several organizations and galleries, including the Oklahoma Arts Council, assisted the Skirvin in selecting Owens.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have found an outstanding artist that will bring what we were searching for when we conceived this program,” said van der Laan. “The most important thing for us is that meaningful art is exposed to the community — and by the community, I mean our guests, our staff, and those who work or come to the downtown area.”

Owens’ unique artwork consists of abstract mosaics created by taking photographs and then sewing them together by hand in a distinct form of needlework. A full-time artist since graduating from the Oklahoma City University graduate photography program in 2005, she said the Skirvin residency is an “amazing” opportunity.

“The ability to have this kind of exposure to national and international hotel guests, as well as the entire downtown community, is an enviable opportunity for a full-time artist,” Owens said.

While the lack of privacy in a highly public studio might not be envied by all artists, Owens said she doesn’t think it will impede her creativity in the slightest. Instead, she has witnessed an energy generated from her interactions with staff and guests that already has positively impacted her art.

“What has amazed me since I moved to the Skirvin is how much more productive I am because I don’t have the distractions of home,” she said. “I do assume that at a certain point, if I have to lock the door, I will, but one of the great things about my work is that I can carry on a conversation while I do it.”

Having committed to several shows within the next 12 months, Owens said she will follow a fairly exhaustive work schedule at the Skirvin to create approximately 100 pieces that will be needed. That may not seem like a lot of pieces for an entire year, she said, but just one of them is to be a room-size installation that will be wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling in size.

“I have a full plate with a lot of art to produce and I am thrilled to be producing it at the Skirvin,” Owens said. “In my seven years as a professional, every year gets better than the year before. Getting this residency helps to set the tone for what will be my best year yet.”

Hey! Read This:
Romy Owens in Breaking the Rules
Romy Owens in Photofest   

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