Painting the Town
Oklahoma is a big piece of fine art. Just walk outside and look up at the beautiful April sky. You’re definitely marveling at its brilliant blues and soft oranges. This spring, several local artists will help you see the beauty that surrounds our state all draw some inspiration from the Sooner State.
The beauty of events like the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival is the abundance and variety of talent that consumes the show. From oil paint to hand-blown art and photography—there truly is something for everyone.
Chris Cargill is an Oklahoma native who currently resides in Edmond. Naturally, Oklahoma has inspired his work. “Although I have worked with oil paints, I currently work with acrylics on mixed-media paintings,” Cargill said. He has garnered local notoriety for his portrait of a famous Oklahoman. “One of my favorite pieces I’ve done is a portrait of Kevin Durant,” he said. “When it was displayed at different festivals, it was always fun hearing people say, ‘Look, it’s Kevin Durant!’ as they saw the painting and then watching all the other people start looking around for the real Kevin Durant.”
This year, Cargill will be a featured artist at the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival. The experience gives Chris a chance to get up close and personal with his hometown supporters. “I think events like this festival are important for artists because they help provide exposure for the art as well as a venue to visit with other working artists,” he said. “The visitors also provide useful critique and reinforcement to your artistic endeavors.”
Edmond Memorial graduate Andrew Boatman loves sharing the gift of art with his supporters. “I create hand-blown art glass. We work with 2000° molten glass to create a wide variety of pieces,” Boatman said. The uniquely stylish pieces he designs are definitely conversation starters all inspired by the natural beauty of Oklahoma. “I keep trying to capture the colors of the sunset in a vase,” Boatman said. “The people, sounds and colors create within us a way of being. I think that comes out in the endeavors of the people.” Boatman believes events like the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival create an interesting opportunity for art consumers. “It is important for people to see art,” he said. “To see how accessible it is. Folks can begin collecting what they like and hopefully even engage in creating art in their own lives.”
Bixby, Oklahoma native John Kennington is also hoping to share his passion this year. The photographer has maintained a 45-year career that spans from dark rooms to digital jpegs. “As I got busy with my children and work, I went through many years not doing much other than snapshots of my family,” Kennington said. “About 8 years ago, after my kids were on their own, I spent more time in the field birding. The vast and varied landscapes of Oklahoma inspired me to start getting serious again about photography.” Kennington thinks that every novice artist should consider taking their work directly to the people. “Nothing beats participating in an arts festival and showing your work to thousands of people and hearing their immediate feedback. When a stranger actually buys your work so they can display it in their home, you know you are succeeding!”
Bart Gernandt has grown his craft through many conversations with patrons of arts festivals. “I’ve lived in Oklahoma since I was 12,” he said. “I think the colors I see in the sunlight or nature is where I get my ideas.” Gernandt family was initially his greatest support system. His first piece was a painting he completed in hopes of finding a complementary art piece to go with a new comforter set that his wife picked for their bedroom. After receiving accolades from friend and family members, Gernandt decided to enter the painting titled “Acid Rain” into one of his shows. Only a few hours in, the family jewel was being sold to a new admirer. “It was pretty emotional,” he said. “Your family likes it, but you take it with a grain of salt. When you see other people coming through, even if they don’t buy it, you feel good that someone appreciates it.”
Kevin Byrne is hoping that art lovers appreciate the functionality of his pottery items. He’s been to nearly a dozen art festivals in Oklahoma and he notices that people still appreciate fine art that serves a purpose. “At festivals you can go around and see what other potters are making. Functional things are key.” Byrne is known for his colorful bread bowls. While all of his items are practical, they are also showcase pieces. In addition to using them to serve your favorite dishes, his items will also enhance your home décor when displayed as the intricate pieces of art that they are. Byrne enjoys making pottering mainly because clay is his favorite material to work with. “The material is so open-ended,” he said. “It’s kind of like people, if you educate them and nurture them, it’s amazing what they can do.”
Visit the Edmond Arts Festival April 29-May 1, 2016. Head to downtownedmondok.com for more info.