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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

October 2017

DogFest Walk n' Roll is a family-friendly, dog-friendly walk and festival benefiting Canine Companions for Independence, which is the oldest and largest dog assistance organization in the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Earlywine Park
3033 SW 119th Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Sponsor: Canine Companions for Independence
Website »

More information

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
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...

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
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...

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
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

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

OKCMOA’s Roof Terrace gives visitors the ultimate downtown experience every Thursday evening from April through October with live local music, the best views of downtown OKC, a relaxing...

Cost: $5

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Contact Name: Becky Weintz
Website »

More information

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
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

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Light The Night Walk is a fundraising campaign benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and their funding of research to find blood cancer cures. This event celebrates and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Devon Boathouse
725 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Telephone: 405.415.7035
Contact Name: Suzanne Chew
Website »

More information

Tired of the same old Halloween parties?  Come Haunt the River and enjoy the decorated boat, haunted tunes, light snacks and cash bar. This is an adults-only cruise and boards at 7:45...

Cost: $35

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

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
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

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kids, wear your costumes and ride the haunted boat. Organizers will have candy, activity books and costume contests. View the ferry schedule online for departure times. Pay regular ferry price...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
All OK River Cruise Landings
Oklahoma City, OK  73109


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

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

ROCK OF AGES is a high-energy rock musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s. This worldwide hit musical takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos...

Cost: $30-60 (military/child discounts available)

Where:
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
1727 NW 16th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.524.9312
Contact Name: Cynthia Bedford
Website »

More information

Tired of the same old Halloween parties?  Come Haunt the River and enjoy the decorated boat, haunted tunes, light snacks and cash bar. This is an adults-only cruise and boards at 7:45...

Cost: $35

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

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

This portrait of early Oklahoma revolves around photography from the decades of shots archived by Land Run settler Henry Wantland.

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
OKC, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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