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A New Home for Oklahoma Contemporary

Oklahoma Contemporary looks to an impending dawn



Orly Genger’s immense creative undertaking, “Terra,”

 

At first glance, a piece of artwork along N Broadway in downtown OKC looks oddly misplaced, with a vacant field as a backdrop. But it’s no accident: “Terra,” an immense knotted rope sculpture by artist Orly Genger, whispers that bigger things are to come.

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center plans to construct a 50,000-square-foot building on the site that will itself be a work of art, as well as a crown jewel that will bookend the north entrance into downtown.

In June, renderings were unveiled of Oklahoma Contemporary’s soon-to-be-new home, designed by 2015 International Architecture Award winner Rand Elliott of Elliott + Associates Architects.

Elliott was a natural fit based on his unique architectural designs and relationship with the organization – he and its co-founder, Christian Keesee, have worked for 25 years to enrich the arts in Oklahoma. Elliott took his love of the organization, and with Keesee’s blessing, set to work to create a new home that itself would celebrate the arts, Oklahoma and its people.

 Rand Elliott, award-winning architect of Oklahoma Contemporary’s new home


“As an architect, the more you know about a client the better,” Elliott says. “We know each other, we like each other and we have a common vision.”

The result is a stunning metal and glass structure dubbed Folding Light.

“In many ways, while you hope to have a building that is aesthetically appealing, it also has to be functional,” Keesee says. “Rand worked very hard with the educators, administration and board of Oklahoma Contemporary to make certain that all of the practical needs will be met, but also to provide for a new, dynamic, attractive building that will not only function as an art center, but as a new cultural destination. I think our city will be very proud of our new building.”

The Oklahoma Contemporary structure will have a facade composed of folded metal sheets designed to play with the light in a way few buildings can achieve. Renderings show how the facility’s appearance will change with the light and weather. It is designed to reflect its home state both inside and out.

“It needed to be a mirror of our community,” Elliott says. “The light in Oklahoma is particularly important, and ‘Folding Light’ is a response to the skin of the building.”

Renderings of the Folding Light facility showcase its planned versatility as a space to display art, hold creative classes and host performances.


Just as the design is important, so is the placement of the building. The location on Broadway was selected because it’s the entrance to downtown for many coming from the north. It needed to be the kind of structure that would not be mistaken for an office building, but rather something that would draw people to the site to see what was going on.

“Visitors to arts and cultural organizations have come to expect a great visitor experience when viewing art, attending a Philharmonic concert or bringing their family to take part in new art experiences,” Keesee says. “That experience has been a part of our planning since day one. Our new building will be visually striking, but also very practical and easy to use for the 75,000 visitors we plan to see in our first year of business at 11th and Broadway.”

 

Oklahoma Contemporary is not a museum in the sense that it doesn’t purchase or collect art. Instead, it functions as a way to educate visitors, highlight local artists and tie those artists and the community into the global arts scene. The center, currently housed at the Oklahoma State Fair Park, offers enriching art classes in a variety of disciplines.

Elliott said one main advantage of the new building will be enhanced control over temperature and humidity, enabling curators to preserve and protect art, and giving the site the ability to host national touring exhibitions that might otherwise never be seen in the state.

In addition to hosting famous exhibitions, Executive Director Donna Rinehart-Keever said the new facility would allow the organization to offer additional programming and educational opportunities in an expanded space, and to be a resource for the community.

“We expect more than 20,000 youth and adult students to take advantage of a much-expanded visual arts curriculum, with such classes as animation, filmmaking, 3-D printing and design, metalwork and jewelry-making,” she says. “We’ll have space to deepen our thriving ceramics, sculpture, fiber and 2-D arts programs. We’ll also develop a larger performance art curriculum, with expanded programs in dance and new classes in drama and public speaking. The dance studio and theater, as well as other areas throughout the building, will be available for private events.”

With renderings drawn and plans still being tweaked, Oklahoma Contemporary is working to slowly introduce itself to downtown at the new site. In addition to the “Terra” sculpture, The Showroom at Oklahoma Contemporary, made from four shipping containers, opened on the site in March.

Elliott said it is gratifying to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for a project 25 years in the works.

“This is our opportunity to make something happen,” he says.


► Down to Business

The new arts campus project, while well on its way to meeting its fundraising goal, still has a ways to go. As of press time, just over half of the $26 million price tag has been raised, but Oklahoma Contemporary Executive Director Donna Rinehart-Keever said a capital campaign committee is in place, and they will break ground when 80 percent of the fundraising goal has been achieved.

 

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Calendar

May 2017

The inaugural Oklahoma City Whitewater Festival will host many whitewater rafting and kayaking events. This four-day whitewater celebration will include the R4 Rafting National Championship and USA...

Cost: Free

Where:
Riversport Rapids
800 Riversport Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Boathouse Foundation
Website »

More information

Six homes and gardens -- from grand domiciles to cozy bungalows -- are ready to welcome the public. The 2017 tour will showcase the diverse architecture, array of interior décor and...

Cost: $10

Where:
Miller Neighborhood
2649 NW 14th St
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Miller Neighborhood Association OKC
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Internationally known multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson’s first Oklahoma solo exhibition will feature recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary
3000 General Pershing Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Celebrate the last day of the Farm's spring season and Memorial Day!

Cost: $11.50

Where:
The Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Sponsor: The Orr Family Farm
Telephone: 405.799.3276
Contact Name: Shanain
Website »

More information

Departs Exchange Landing | Saturdays (May  – August) | 11:40 am Experience history as you never have before. Colorful Oklahoma characters will reenact history through the eyes of...

Cost: $6-15

Where:
Exchange Landing
1503 Exchange Avenue
SW, over the bridge from Farmer's Market
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

Saturday cartoons aren’t just for the children anymore. Share the classics with your crew every Saturday on an Oklahoma River Cruise. Kids 6 and under ride free.

Cost: $15 (free for kids 6 and under)

Where:
Exchange Landing
1503 Exchange Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Website »

More information

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson interweaves fiber art, ceramics, video and performance art, painting and elements and influences from his Choctaw/Cherokee heritage for this captivating exhibition...

Where:
Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
3000 General Pershing
OKC, OK  73107
View map »


Telephone: 405.951.0000
Website »

More information

A joint exhibition of Western portraiture and iconography from Oklahoma Hall of Fame artists Mike Larsen and Harold T. Holden.

Where:
OK Hall of Fame Museum
1400 N Classen
OKC, OK  73106
View map »


Telephone: 405.235.4458
Website »

More information

A slice of American (and Oklahoman) history retakes the spotlight in this exhibition of works created under the New Deal's Federal Art Project.

Where:
OKC Museum of Art
415 Couch
OKC, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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