Exhibition celebrates opening of new Oklahoma Contemporary building

In celebration of Oklahoma Contemporary’s inaugural exhibition, "Bright Golden Haze," the Oklahoma City Museum of Art will present its own satellite exhibition, "The Art of Light." Part of "Bright Golden Haze: Reflections," 12 artistic projects across Oklahoma commemorating Oklahoma Contemporary's opening, "The Art of Light" is funded by The Kirkpatrick Family Fund and Annie Bohanon. The three-work exhibition will be open March 19 to Aug. 16.


“Oklahoma Contemporary’s move to midtown represents an important milestone in the growth and development of Oklahoma City’s arts and cultural landscape,” said Michael Anderson, OKCMOA president & CEO. “Their inaugural exhibition ‘Bright Golden Haze’ explores the ways artists use light. We are thrilled to present ‘The Art of Light,’ an original pocket exhibition, to complement this historic event. It’s an exciting time to live and work in Oklahoma City.” 


Inspired by the exploration of light as a tool to create space, "The Art of Light" seeks to communicate the unique visual experiences provided by different forms of light when they are employed to achieve artistic ends. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Barbara Astman’s "Present Tense" (2005-6), comprised of a set of flashlights whose lenses are masked by pictures of faces. The work projects floating, smiling faces onto darkened surfaces. 


“Present Tense” was commissioned by Christian Keesee, founder and president of Oklahoma Contemporary, after he visited Astman’s exhibition “The Clementine Suite” at the Koffler Gallery in Toronto in 2006. “The Clementine Suite” featured Astman’s research on Holocaust survivors. For “Present Tense” Astman revised her focus from survivors to generations.


“For ‘Present Tense,’ I used portraits of people from different generations and used toy flashlights as the mode of projections,” said Astman. “The ghostly images projected onto the floor have an ephemeral feeling, and it takes a few moments to realize what you are seeing. They speak to memory and how we try to hold onto an image.”


Additionally, the Museum will present “Laser Drawing” (1967) by Forrest Myers and "Balthazar” (1968) by Stanley Landsman. “Laser Drawing," the first laser artwork ever created, was originally installed in July 1967 at the nightclub Max’s Kansas City in New York. The laser was shown nightly from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. from July 1967 until around 1974. The laser moves to the beat from the sound of the speaker it sits on. OKCMOA will show the piece accompanied by a variety of music appropriate to the time period.


New York artist Stanley Landsman made both self-contained works with light, like “Balthazar,” and environments that a viewer could enter. Either way, working with electric light and mirrors, Landsman created illusions of deep space that involve the viewer both visually and as a participant. "Balthazar," a kinetic light sculpture, includes interactive knobs for visitors to change the lighting of the piece. 


"Present Tense" and "Laser Drawing" have never been shown at the Museum.