State of the Arts

Colorful creativity beyond the pandemic


There will come a point at which we no longer have to talk about an industry or community in terms of the effects of COVID. However, we are not there yet, so this is not that article. When Krystle Kaye, executive director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, answered a question about the state of arts in Oklahoma, she began with COVID’s impact.

“It’s a simple answer,” Kaye says. “Artists continue to struggle with the impact of the pandemic, including opportunities to show and sell their work [being] cut and canceled. We’re starting to see some openings, but we’re not back to pre-COVID numbers; not even close.”

Kaye also said OVAC has not had to cut back on support of artists thanks to the generosity of groups like the Arts Council and Mid-America Arts Alliance, and funding from PPP. “We’ve been able to continue all planned programming, and we’re planning on doing the same in 2021,” she says.

COVID aside, the visual arts in Oklahoma seem stronger than ever. Galleries survived 2020 without going out of business, art walks have fired back up, Kaye reported that her organization and partners were able to award 80 $1,000 grants, murals continue to sprout up around the metro, Heather Lunsford has the Hulsey Gallery at Oklahoma City University as busy as it’s ever been. Laura Warriner at Artspace at Untitled has scheduled the Steamroller Print Festival for Apr. 25 and the artists we talked to about the state of the arts never really mentioned COVID. 

The four artists below aren’t meant to be representative of all artists in Oklahoma. That’s an impossible task. They do, however, represent four very different styles, and because we’re fascinated with the use of color in and through a pandemic, they were also chosen for the ways they use the palettes seen commonly in their work. 

Lhp 3838

Ebony Iman Dallas 

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Behnaz Sohrabian

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Carlos Barboza

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Matt Goad

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