15 Years of Momentum: Looking Back

February 18, 2016

Momentum | Artist Opportunities

Editor’s note: This week guest blogger Kristen Vails Gilpin looks back on her fondest Momentum memories. For more information on Momentum, visit www.MomentumOklahoma.org.

My first Momentum experience was in 2005 in a triangle shaped building just east of Downtown OKC. I was in art school at OU, and had heard about the event and wanted to check it out. I went alone, and the place was jam-packed with people and art in an old office building-turned-art gallery. The offices became tiny galleries, and a whole community of artists I didn’t know existed was flowing in and out of rooms, up and down stairs. It was loud, it was hot, it was energetic; it was unlike any other event I had been to before!

My eyes were opened, it was the first time I had really experienced an art community. There were so many other artists making incredible work, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Nancy Smart Carlson, Momentum OKC 2005
Nancy Smart Carlson, Momentum OKC 2005

The next year, I submitted to Momentum by taking my 3 pieces of work to the Downtown Airpark. I was insecure about my work, I felt my paintings weren’t contemporary enough to be taken seriously in a show like this, but I submitted anyway and hoped for the best. Weeks later, the accepted artists were announced and I was thrilled to learn 2 of my pieces were accepted. Even more, I learned that one of my pieces had won the award of merit. To me it was unbelievable that my work had been accepted, honored, and even rewarded with a cash prize.

“Cigarette” sellers selling art at Momentum OKC 2005

I invited my family and friends; it was the first time they had been to an art show. The event fell on an evening after a gnarly snowstorm, and the location did not have heat. I remember moving back and forth between my paintings, and the closest mobile heater. The parking lot was not paved, and my dad helped pull stuck cars out of the parking lot. Even though it was a freezing night, people came out because it was Momentum, and it was not to be missed.

Momentum OKC 2015 (Photo by Joshua Cassella)

Momentum OKC 2015 (Photo by Joshua Cassella)

I get nostalgic when I think about that night. Today’s Momentum exhibitions have heat and artwork is submitted online rather than loading up the car and hoping for the best. The event has grown up just like many of us, but I’m glad I got to be a part of it the way it was then. I was a part of something great. The cold, the snow, none of it mattered because for the first time, I felt confident about my work. My work was accepted for what it was, and therefore I was accepted for who I was. Momentum gave me the confidence to continue my work, to put my portfolio out there, which led to many opportunities of showing my work across the state and eventually my passion for merging art into the community.

So, here is to 15 years of Momentum! My hope is that the younger artists still discover what I discovered over 10 years ago–a thriving art community, affirmation, and a the confidence to make work and keep getting it out there.


Come celebrate 15 years of supporting the next generation of artists at this year’s Momentum, March 4 & 5. More information at www.MomentumOklahoma.org