Annual exhibit of the up-and-coming 'Momentum' has become a movement of emerging Oklahoma artists 

Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still
8 p.m.-Midnight Friday-Saturday
5-7 p.m. Tuesday-March 11
Goodwill Warehouse
410 S.W. Third
$10 advance, $15 door

A diverse selection of works created by more than 100 artists from around the state will be showcased this weekend at a two-night exhibition inside a warehouse turned into a makeshift gallery space.

"Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still" is an annual art show sponsored by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition that highlights works that range from more traditional 2-D and 3-D pieces, to film, performance, mixed-media creations and site-specific installations.

But there is a catch: All exhibiting artists are under the age of 30.

"Because 'Momentum' restricts age, the artists get a chance to shine on their own without having to compete with older, more established artists," said Jessica Calvert, a 21-year-old event planner for OVAC. She expects nearly 3,000 people to attend.

This year's show is curated by John Seward, an Oklahoma City professional artist, and Dr. Margo von Schlageter, an Oklahoma City psychiatrist. The two sifted through the wide variety of submitted art.

"I think the group we've decided is very diverse," von Schlageter said. "There were 350 pieces submitted from Oklahoma artists. We're in a warehouse space that isn't designed originally to be an art gallery, so we have to work that number down to between 80 to 100 pieces."

Of the 350 entries, the most memorable to Seward were the photographs, paintings and 3-D pieces. Despite the large amount of submissions, he said he didn't think the selection process was all that taxing.

"It's not difficult, because you are looking for work that has been fully realized "? that is, from beginning to the end, the execution of the piece," he said. "That's one thing I tend to look for: how they brought their idea to completion."

Split into two nights, Friday's "Downtempo" event is a more typical, reception-style opening that will feature jazz music by Cami Stinson and Norman's An Old Timepiece. Saturday's "Fullspeed" show is more of a party, with music by Norman psychedelic rockers The Mean Spirits, Tulsa experimental pop trio Ghosts and DJ Kelly Trance.

New this year is the "Momentum Spotlight," a program that gave three young Oklahomans a $1,750 honorarium to create their own projects. The selected artists each used a portion of the money to create onsite installations and new works specifically for the show.

One of the spotlight artists is Tulsan Geoffrey Hicks, who is showing at "Momentum" for the fifth time. He incorporates technological elements into his art and has a reputation for filling shows with unique mechanical creations.

"Last year, I had a robotic video screen made from a rebuilt machine that cuts out metal," he said. "Instead of a cutting head, it had TV screen on it. As it panned across the wall, the video would pan with it."

In 2008, Hicks combined a tetherball with an accelerometer to control a couple kissing on a video screen. The faster the ball moved, the quicker the couple made out. For this weekend's show, he has added sensors to his art.

"I had this idea of connecting art with the heartbeat of a person," he said. "It's a hanging sculptural installation of 150 light bulbs. When a person is connected to the system, the viewer can put their finger on a sensor, and the lights react to their heart rate."

Hicks' "Heartbeat" piece is wirelessly linked to dancers who will perform beneath the installation. As the dancers' heart rate increases, the lights glow brighter.

Now in its ninth year, "Momentum" was founded to bring together young artists to help kick-start their careers.

Some of those featured are often fresh out of college. Amber Farnell, a recent East Central University grad and the second spotlight artist, is showing work at "Momentum" for the second time. Her "Housing Subdivision" piece includes sculptural model homes on stilts, which explores the instability of the current housing crisis. She said her installation represents society's tendency to bite off more than it can chew.

"In our society, bigger is better, and people want more than they need," Farnell said. "It speaks to what social class you belong to. We work for all of this stuff that we don't really need."

For her, the most difficult part of making art is time restrictions. As a teacher in Okemah, she is sometimes unable to find all of the supplies she needs in a small town where stores' closing times are often earlier than those in bigger cities.

"I get off work at 3 p.m. and start working on my project, but the hardware store closes at 5," Farnell said. "One day, I needed two nuts and I couldn't get them."

The third spotlight artist, Delvie McPherson, is a "Momentum" first-timer. The 27-year-old studio arts graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma combines biology and art with his installation, "Nature's Runway." He said he was surprised to be picked as an spotlight artist.
"Being my first time, the professors told me you'll get 'no' after 'no' after 'no,'" McPherson said. "I knew it was a large competition. I had high hopes, but if I didn't get in, it wouldn't be horrible."

Growing up on a farm in Southwest Oklahoma impacted his work. His mother was a biology teacher, which made interacting with animals and plants a big part of his life. He hopes the influence will take him beyond "Momentum" and across the nation.

"'Momentum' is a great way to get noticed in the art community here; it's such a huge exhibit," he said. "I hope to develop my line further and maybe start presenting to other galleries, hopefully nationwide."

Tickets for a preview party, which is held 6-8 p.m. Friday, are $25. The show ends midnight Saturday, but "Momentum" reopens Tuesday, and will remain on display 5-7 p.m. daily through March 11. "?Luke Atkinson

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