Local musician and arts opens art gallery and recording studio space 

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Opening a new business, especially one in which revenue is dependent on the arts, is a risky, if not downright scary, proposition. It takes far more than that to scare Richard “Dicky” Avants after what he has been through. In April, Avants opened an art gallery, live music and music production space called War-Torn Industries, 3130 N. May Ave.

In January 2013, Avants learned he had end-stage kidney failure and spent the next month hospitalized, enduring procedure after procedure. Upon release, his condition required four-hour dialysis treatments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to keep his blood clean. His kidneys were functioning at a scant 4 percent. He endured this regimen for a year and a half.

“My stepmother, Ginny Avants, took care of all the mountains of paperwork from insurance, hospital bills, dialysis bills, getting me registered with the American Kidney foundation and finally being one of the main reasons I made it through the acceptance of making the transplant list at OU [Medicine’s Oklahoma] Transplant Center,” Avants said.

“The OU Transplant team was the most amazing experience I have ever had. The care, love, discipline and humanity I was shown there was second to none. My sister, Christina Baer, also applied and qualified as a living kidney donor, meaning she went through a barrage of tests, meetings, diets and counseling. She stepped up and was going to save my life.”

On the very morning of the surgery, a little more than a year ago, Avants received a call. OU had a kidney from a deceased donor, a young man who had died earlier that morning. His organs would go on to save the lives of five people, including Avants.

“My sister never had to donate, and I went in for my transplant surgery,” he said. “I woke up later that evening with the greatest gift anyone could ever receive: a true second chance.”

Avants is seizing his chance, and War-Torn Industries is his vehicle.

“I’ve had bad luck with the art scene in Oklahoma City,” he said. “It seems to be as much about who you know as it is about your art. I wanted a place for talented artists who may not be known, a true artists’ co-op dedicated to local art.”

That was where Clark Deal, owner of 3130 Studios, came in. Avants rents 3,500 square feet of space from Deal, whose business will continue to operate in the back of the building. 3130 Studios, established in 2007, is a film, video, photography and special effects production company Deal created. Its work is familiar to many and includes spots for Trixie’s adult novelty stores and Fowler Mitsubishi.

Avants is a musician and a painter.

“I play drums, bass and guitar,” he said. “I started my interest in the arts when I was four or five. My grandfather was a sculptor, and he has pieces at the National Cowboy [& Western Heritage] Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and I spent a lot of time with his as a kid. My mom’s mom was a pianist, and I have clear memories of listening to her play the piano.”

Cultural hub

Currently, there are about a dozen artists committed to showing their work at War-Torn, and Avants is on the hunt for more. War-Torn is unique in that it will only collect a 20-percent commission, half of the standard 40 percent most galleries require. There is no cost to the artists showing at War-Torn.

Avants, Ashley Smith, Tanner Frady, J. Chris Johnson, Amanda Christine Shelton, Micah Moad, Kolby Purdham, Alyssa Graham, Nora Bisher, Ashley Forrest, Lili Covey, Gas Art and Christina Tankersley make up the current roster.

“We’ve got walls that are 15 feet tall,” Avants said. “We plan on doing as many large-scale installations as we can.”

The idea is to become an artistic hub for the community. War-Torn hosts gallery nights 5:30-9 p.m. or so the second Friday of each month. Guests can wander through the gallery, check out 3130 Studios, enjoy some live music and get to know one another.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment.

Avants is also opening Art, Inc., a recording studio. It will be available by appointment for recording demos and albums.

“There is no place that’s doing all of these things in the same space in Oklahoma,” Avants said. “Between what I’m doing with War-Torn and Art, Inc. and what Clark already has going with 3130 Studio, we cover almost every type of art you’d want to see and also everything you need to produce art, whether it’s music or a video or showing your paintings.” 

Print headline: Collective art, A new gallery and artist cooperative aims to cultivate creativity in OKC.

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