These two highly diverse structures were created by the same Oklahoma City fabrication artist, who continues to redefine his skill set with each new assignment.
Hugh Meades Oddfab Design Lab, 703 W. Sheridan Ave., is housed in a warehouse studio within the growing Film Row district. The business, which is celebrating its first anniversary, specializes in signage and construction projects. Ultimately, Meade wants to create lasting, memorable public art pieces.
I think his stuff is so progressive, and I dont know if Oklahoma City even realizes what an amazing artist he is, said Amanda Weathers-Bradway, co-owner of the Plaza Districts DNA Galleries.
When his wife suggested moving from Atlanta to OKC, Meade wasnt initially onboard. Keeping an open mind, they visited the city, where he immediately noticed several small galleries, went to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and attended an independent play.
It wasnt that I had a bad image or that I was opposed to the city, but I just knew nothing about it, he said. But I really saw a cultural connection to the arts here.
Making the move 10 years ago, Meade received a warm welcome.
I noticed there is a camaraderie and a sense that were all in this together that is uncommon in art communities that Ive interacted with before, he said, noting that cooperation, rather than cutthroat competition, produces better artists who are held to the highest standard.
One of his favorite collaborations was with Weathers-Bradway. He constructed a table from repurposed maple wood that was discarded by a cabinet company, while she painted the top with a Japanese koi pond.
I think [the koi painting] adds immensely to the piece, but without subtracting from it, Meade
said. Its a real melding of two different artistic skills and
viewpoints that makes one great piece.
with showcasing his latest pieces, Meade brings in artists he feels are
underappreciated in the community. Their work is displayed during Film
Rows third Friday art walks each month.
Oddfab is relatively new to Meade, working in creative projects is not.
In his early career, he used time off from his day job to experiment
with new ideas.
carpenter, he gained a passion for building furniture and other
wood-based projects. When a sign company asked if hed like to join its
team, he wasnt sure he could work with aluminum, plastics and other
media. But a manager told him, If you can use tools for one thing, you
can use tools for another. This encouragement helped Meade expand his
skills in a new direction.
was one of the best experiences, both artistically and professionally, I
could have, Meade said. It has radically changed how I view art and
made me more fit for public art.
Kienzle of the Oklahoma City Planning Departments arts and culture
office said Meade is a fine craftsman who thrives on new projects.
I refer people to him all the time, she said. If Hugh Meade doesnt already know how to do it, hell figure it out.
moving to his current studio, Meade used spaces outside the city, which
he said didnt allow his business to thrive in the way it can in Film
Im right across
from one of the best galleries in the city, he said, referring to
Individual Artists of Oklahoma. The energy of a vibrant, upcoming
neighborhood cant help
but improve my interaction with the artistic community.
into the public art world isnt a simple task; selection committees
often pick more established artists in the field. But Kienzle advises
interested artists to start with smaller commissions, temporary exhibits
or privately funded works with an exterior nature to help build their
For Meade, the
Guardian of the Harvest owls created for Myriad Botanical Gardens were
supposed to be temporary, but since it was so popular, plans exist to
reconstruct it next year. He also believes good signs like the old
Broadway-style Empire piece are not just advertising but a form of
signage as part of our visual landscape, he said. Therefore, shouldnt
it be nice like the architecture of the buildings? As he continues
demonstrating his talents, Meade hopes to receive more public art
commissions. His favorite modern example is Chicagos Cloud Gate, but he
also finds inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Greek works made from
stone that still create surprise and wonder after thousands of years.