Local artists cross state lines for show, shine spotlight on OKC art scene 

click to enlarge Artist George Oswalt photographed at IAO Gallery on Film Rom where he was found working on the "The Elaborate Colaborate" exhibit set-up.  mh
  • Artist George Oswalt photographed at IAO Gallery on Film Rom where he was found working on the "The Elaborate Colaborate" exhibit set-up. mh

It’s no secret that Oklahoma City is home to an impressive art community bursting with talent.

With support from organizations like Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, convenient access to more than 20 galleries in the Paseo Arts District and popular events like First Friday Gallery Walk and Paseo Arts Festival, OKC is not a bad place to have a knack for creativity.

Marc Barker and George Oswalt are early pioneers of the art scene in the city, and they each contribute to keeping the artistic spirit alive and well. The pair have been supporting the art community and showing their work in local galleries for decades. Not only are they active proponents of art within the city, but they’re using their talent to gain recognition for its art community beyond state lines.

The Annual Delta Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture features handpicked work of the best artists from around the Mississippi Delta Region. Oswalt’s “Bedtime Story 2” and Barker’s “CloudScapes” will be on display as part of the exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center through Sept. 20. In addition to being an opportunity for Barker and Oswalt to have their work showcased in a prestigious museum setting, having their pieces shown outside of Oklahoma encourages outsiders to take note of what Oklahoma has to offer.

“There’s that kind of stigma of the Okie, and we always felt like second citizens in Oklahoma City,” Oswalt said. “But I think that’s been driven out to a certain extent.”

On top of support from quality galleries, there is no shortage of creative muse for artists in the metro.

“Oklahoma has a beautiful life and beautiful cloud formations,” said Barker.

In his “CloudScapes” piece, Barker reveals his fascination with Oklahoma’s breathtaking skies in black-and-white oil paintings. For Oswalt, “the sky, the open spaces, and the capriciousness of the weather at times” provide him with an interesting mix of clarity and spontaneity that he translated into his vibrantly colored “Bedtime Story 2.”

“Oklahoma breeds a lot of artists,” Barker said.

The flow of creativity and individuality is obvious when you walk through the Paseo Arts District. There are numerous organizations dedicated to preserving the arts, and countless creative minds are able to explore their talent as a result.

OKC is not on the same scale as major art cities like New York, Dallas or Santa Fe, but Oswalt doesn’t consider that a negative.

“The great thing about Oklahoma is that you can forge your identity a little bit better than if you are in a big city,” he said.

For people searching for a city that offers room to grow, explore and improve, OKC is prime real estate.

The creative spirit in Oklahoma City has become a central part of the city’s character, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, according to the artists.

“The only thing going against us is tornadoes,” Barker said.

Print headline: Creative spirit, Local artists take Oklahoma City’s creativity across state lines.

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Taylor Duane

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