OKC VeloCity | Artster tells the story of the Oklahomans behind the art

Artster tells the story of the Oklahomans behind the art

By Josh Vaughn / Lifestyle / April 25, 2019

“Artster Oklahoma” exhibition will be showing in the Tulsa World/Lorton Family Gallery at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame through May 18.

Photographer Michelle LaVasque and fellow artist Espanta Steppe spent 2018 seeking to connect to other creatives in a very unique way. Together, they traveled throughout Oklahoma meeting and interviewing 30 other artists and artisans. Along with the interviews, they were privileged enough to be shown the individual process and workspace of each artist, photographing everything as they went. The fruits of their labor resulted in the publishing of a book entitled “Artster Oklahoma” and an exhibition of selected artists in the Tulsa World/Lorton Family Gallery at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame that runs through May 18.

Earlier this year, the "Artster Oklahoma" exhibition opened to a packed house, one of the gallery's highest-attended shows ever.

In their own terms, Artster refers to “...an individual who chooses a culturally rich lifestyle and maintains a great admiration for various forms of art. Informed and typically altruistic by nature, this individual believes in the power of creative appreciation and collaboration as a means to benefit humanity.” The book focuses on each artist’s story, studio and process, giving intimate glimpses into the world behind the magic of each creative’s respective art. To them, it is the human story of each artist that makes their art compelling. “We are very proud of this project and the opportunity to highlight the creative works happening in our state,” said LaVasque.

The exhibition brought together many artists and artisans that most likely would have never have had the opportunity to show together otherwise.

In the exhibition, one sees that the creation points back to its creator. The artist themselves are thrust into the spotlight as much as their art is. The vast variety of exquisite talent on display in so many creative disciplines is quite astonishing. Masterfully crafted and conceived jewelry is displayed with equally detailed leatherwork in the form of saddles and boots. Through this exhibit, you find abstract sculpture is just as at home with its impressionistic portrait neighbor as it is with the stunningly gorgeous handcrafted knife blade that hangs gleaming on the wall as sculpture itself. Local artist and curator of the show, Marissa Raglin, expertly assembled a showing of the cross-section of creativity that exists in Oklahoma today. It can be eye-opening to many today that there is such a vibrant and accessible community of artists that live alongside us day to day. Each one has their own story that once discovered, often times changes the way their art is seen. LaVasque and Steppe, are doing their part by sharing Artster and their passion for the arts in Oklahoma with us through the book and exhibition.

Co-creators of Artster Michelle LaVasque (left) and Espanta Steppe (right) pose with exhibit curator, Marissa Raglin (center) on the opening night of the exhibition.

The book, “Artster Oklahoma”, is available to purchase at the Museum Store in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the exhibition runs through May 18 of 2019. The Tulsa World | Lorton Family Gallery at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please check the museum’s website oklahomahof.com for any exceptions and the latest information about this exhibit.

Artisan shows guests details on his handmade saddles and explains his process.

The "Artster Oklahoma" exhibition showcases a wide variety of mediums and styles of art.


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