OVAC Annual Artist Survey – Report: Common Misunderstandings Part 2

May 13, 2013

OVAC Artist Survey
This post is the seventh and final in the series of posts (see the series here) examining the feedback and concerns expressed in the OVAC artist survey. We received over 250 responses from artists around the state. 

Artwork from the Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition. View the comprehensive exhibit catalog at www.concept-ok.org.
L to R: (top row) George Wilson, Kate Johnson, Cathy Deuschle, (bottom row) Bob Hawks, Sarah Hearn, Laurie Spencer, Bryan Cook

Misunderstanding #3: OVAC only supports artists working in certain styles (Responders frequently cited that style as “contemporary”).
OVAC does support contemporary artists. When we say “contemporary” we mean artists who are living and making artwork in the present day. Our exhibitions and awards are not limited to artists working in a particular style and we do not guide our guest curators to select particular types of work. 

We recruit guest curators who look at the applicant pool within a larger context of artists working regionally or nationally.  The exhibitions are usually highly competitive. The guest curators’ artwork selections are based in their own research and expertise. OVAC exhibitions seek to position Oklahoma artists to participate in the larger art community regionally and nationally. We believe this desired outcome is distinctive among exhibitions available within the state and valuable to Oklahoma artists. 

Misunderstanding #4: OVAC is mostly focused on Oklahoma City-area artists.
OVAC is a statewide organization, committed to supporting artists with programs relevant to artists all over the state. Our exhibitions, grants, workshops, etc. are open to artists living and working anywhere in Oklahoma. OVAC also has leadership in multiple communities, such as strong board presence from Tulsa-area leaders. This board guidance helps insure our programs serve a broad community of artists. 

While the OVAC office is located in the state capital of Oklahoma City, the majority of our programs take place off-site or online.  We partner with galleries and organizations across the state to present our programs in a variety of locations (see Suggestion #1 in this previous post). Plus many of our services are information-based, sent via mailed publications, email or online, making them available equally to those with technological capability. 

If there are more artists from a certain area accepted in a program, that’s likely because many more artists from that area submitted. Of course, 33% of Oklahoma’s population is in the Oklahoma City metro area and 25% in the Tulsa metro. OVAC purposely has programs and services targeted at rural and smaller communities. The geographic diversity of our services is evident by the artists from 103 Oklahoma cities or towns who have participated in our programs in the last three years.