The Concept exhibition presents an evocative investigation of contemporary artists in Oklahoma, along with a regional artist exchange. The exhibition is designed to nurture, support, and connect artists and arts practitioners; increase exposure for outstanding artists; and foster critical dialogue about their work.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) announces a call for entries for the exhibition Concept. Inclusive of practicing Oklahoma artists, Concept will open at ahha in Tulsa on February 7, 2020.

Through this triennial exhibition, audiences can investigate current art making in Oklahoma. The Concept Survey provides a broad look at contemporary work in Oklahoma, while four Focus artists will be selected to dive deeper, and participate in a group exhibition and exchange with four Focus artists from Wichita, KS.

Participating artists will be encouraged to lead educational opportunities engaging the public through programs such as workshops, lectures, discussion, critiques, tours, online forums, and other creative ideas.

Project partners include ahha in Tulsa and Harvester Arts in Wichita, KS. The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition receives organizational support from Allied Arts, the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

Concept Eligibility:

Visual artists working in all media are eligible to submit, from studio art media to film, installation and new media. OVAC supports artworks and projects in direct dialogue with the visual arts.

Applicants cannot be enrolled as degree-seeking-students. The exhibition is open to artists 21 years or older who reside in Oklahoma at the time of application and throughout the exhibition. Collaborative or collective artwork submissions are welcome if all participating artists are eligible.

Artists who apply and are not accepted for the Focus exhibition may apply to the Survey exhibition.


Concept offers more than $15,000 in artist awards. Of this, $3,000 in awards will be given in the Survey exhibition. An honorarium of $1,500 each will be given to up to four Focus artists from each city (8 total) who will also receive travel assistance for an exchange exhibition between Tulsa and Wichita.

The exhibition will be documented with a catalog in which all accepted artists will be included. Each artist will receive three copies of the catalog.


Heather Pesanti joined the Contemporary Austin in 2013, and was named Chief Curator in 2018. Since then, she has organized monographic exhibitions and outdoor commissions of John Bock, Carol Bove, Anya Gallaccio, Lionel Maunz, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, Monika Sosnowska, Robert Therrien, and Marianne Vitale, with forthcoming solo exhibitions of Abraham Cruzvillegas, Nicole Eisenman, and Torbjørn Rødland. In 2015, she organized Strange Pilgrims, a large-scale, thematic exhibition on experiential art, in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently developing The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn, a large-scale exhibition on the intersection of art and anthropology, opening fall 2019.

From 2008 to 2013, Pesanti was Curator of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, where she organized collection and special exhibitions including Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, a historic survey of Buffalo’s dynamic arts scene, and was adjunct professor in the Visual Studies Department at the University at Buffalo. Before joining the Albright-Knox, she was assistant curator of Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art. Pesanti received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, MSc in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England, and MA in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She has published monographic catalogue essays on Charles Atlas, Rodney McMillian, Angelbert Metoyer, Sofía Táboas, Robert Therrien, and Garth Weiser, and thematic exhibition catalogues for Strange Pilgrims, A Secret Affair: Selections from the Fuhrman Family Collection, Decade: Contemporary Collecting, 2002-2012, Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, and Life on Mars: 55thCarnegie International. She has forthcoming catalogues essays for Nicole Eisenman, The Sorcerer’s Burden, and the University of Texas at Austin Black Studies collection. Her exhibitions have received two grants awarded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (for Strange Pilgrims and The Sorcerer’s Burden).

How to Apply

Focus entries must be received online by June 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm.
Survey entries must be received online by November 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm.
No late or incomplete applications will be processed. Violation of any of the terms of this agreement or of the application criteria will result in a rejection of an application, or if already awarded, rescission, or return of all funds disbursed.


Please make sure you have reviewed all of the guidelines before submitting your application!
If you have questions, please email


Become a Concept Sponsor

Concept Sponsorship

    • $10,000 and up "Visionary" Sponsors: Sustain free public admission to this groundbreaking, ambitious exhibition.
      Visionary Sponsors receive all acknowledgements below and:
       Top level acknowledgement with logo or name placement on all promotional materials
       ½ page advertisement in Art Focus Oklahoma magazine
       Invitations for up to 20 guests to the Patron Preview opening and catalog release receptions

    • $5,000 and up “Catalog” Sponsors: Facilitate production and national circulation of the Concept catalog.
      Catalog Sponsors receive all acknowledgements below and:
       Logo or name placement on local print advertising
       ¼ page advertisement in Art Focus Oklahoma magazine
       Invitations for up to 15 guests to the Patron Preview opening and catalog release receptions

    • $1,000 and up “Contemporary” Sponsors: Support educational materials and programs to help the public understand and enjoy the artwork.
      Contemporary Sponsors receive all acknowledgements below and:
       Acknowledgement on local print advertising
       Acknowledgement on invitations to local and national audiences of more than 10,000
       Thank you listing in Art Focus Oklahoma magazine, seen by more than 12,000
       Invitations for up to 10 guests to the Patron Preview opening and catalog release receptions

    • $500 “Major” Sponsors: Subsidize outreach efforts and free tours to area schools and social service organizations.
      Major sponsors receive all acknowledgements below and:
       Acknowledgment on gallery wall signage
       Invitations for up to 5 guests to the Patron Preview opening and catalog release receptions

    • $250 Sponsors: Promote the national exposure of Oklahoma artists through Concept.
       Acknowledgement in printed exhibition catalog
       Website and social media acknowledgment
       Invitations for up to 2 guests to the Patron Preview opening and catalog release receptions

    • Corporate giving levels also available. Email director Holly Moye for more info
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Thank you 2016 Sponsors
Allied Arts
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation
George Kaiser Family Foundation
Kirkpatrick Family Fund
National Endowment for the Arts
Oklahoma Arts Council

Concept contains two exhibition components.
 is a competitively selected exhibition of artwork in all media selected by the guest curator from artist submissions. Concept/Focus is a curated group exhibition of new work by 4 Oklahoma artists and 4 artists from a partner city in the region (the 2016 partner city is St. Louis, MO). The Focus artists are selected by the guest curator from proposals and receive an honorarium and curatorial guidance to create new work to debut at the exhibition.

2016 Focus artists:
Glenn Herbert Davis (Tulsa)
Heather Clark Hilliard (Norman)
Andy Mattern (Stillwater)
Anh-Thuy Nguyen (Tulsa)

St. Louis:
Addoley Dzegede
Meredith Foster
Cole Lu
Catalina Ouyang

2016 Survey artists:
Marilyn Artus (OKC)
Stuart Asprey (Norman)
Randall Barnes (Midwest City)
Tracey Bewley (OKC)
Steve Breerwood (Moore)
Cynthia Brown (Tulsa)
Jason Cytacki (Norman)
Brian Dehart (Tulsa)
Ginna Dowling (Norman)
Yiren Gallagher (Tulsa)
Grace Grothaus Grimm (Tulsa)
Geoffrey Hicks (Tulsa)
Michelle Himes-McCrory (Stillwater)
Akiko Jackson (Tulsa)
Mary Ketch (Norman)
Mandy Messina (OKC)
Molly Murphy-Adams (Tulsa)
Angie Piehl (Stillwater)
Stephanie Pinkston (Broken Arrow)
Haley Prestifilippo (Norman)
Kim Rice (Norman)
Liz Roth (Stillwater)
Parker Seward (Stillwater)
Byron Shen (Skiatook)
Cecilia Villalobos (Skiatook)
George Wilson (OKC)
Jason Wilson (Hartshorne)

2016 Curator: Adam Welch, Pittsburgh, PA


Concept Focus Artists 2016

Glenn Herbert Davis


Addoley Dzegede


Meredith Foster


Heather Clark Hilliard


Cole Lu


Andy Mattern


Catalina Ouyang


Adam Welch


Not pictured: Anh-Thuy Nguyen (as she was completing a residency in Italy at the time of filming)


The Concept exhibition debuted in Tulsa as the inaugural exhibition of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa’s new Hardesty Arts Center. Featuring 44 artists, the exhibition welcomed thousands of visitors during its run December 16, 2012-February 16, 2013. Concept is presented triennially by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Through a regional partnership with Kansas City-based Charlotte Street Foundation, the Concept/Focus portion of the exhibition included an exchange of four artistic projects from both Oklahoma and Kansas City. The second exhibition in this exchange was presented at Charlotte Street’s la Esquina gallery, Kansas City, March 15-April 20, 2013, curated by Charlotte Street 2012-13 Curator-in-Residence Jamilee Polson Lacy.

With site specificity in mind, for FOCUS: OK<->KC at la Esquina, the featured Kansas City and Oklahoma artists reconsider, adjust, and even recreate projects originally presented at the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa. In doing so, each artist’s contribution stresses the union of material and site, content and place, and audience and experience. Together, the artworks featured in this traveling exhibition represent artistic and intellectual growth generated by a change of scenery.

2013 Focus Artists
Grace Grothaus (Tulsa)
Aaron Hauck (Afton)
Geoffrey Krawczyk (Norman)
Romy Owens (OKC)

Kansas City, MO:
Jason Carron
Cory Imig
Charlie Mylie & Lindsey Griffith
Garry Noland

Blog: Focus Artist project updates.

2013 Residency Artists
Narciso Argüelles (Edmond)
Sarah Hearn (OKC)
Gregory Ruppe (Ft. Worth, TX)

2013 Survey Artists
Sarah Atlee
Marjorie Atwood
Paul Bagley
Nick Bayer
Autumn Brown
Kendall Brown
Bryan Cook
Glenn Herbert Davis
Cathy Deuschle
Robert Dorhmann
Ron Fleming & Linda Stilley
James Gaar
Justine Green
Katherine Hair
Bob Hawks
Geoffrey Hicks
Heather Clark Hilliard
Kaylee Huerta
Travis Hummingbird
Kate Johnson
Marcus Kesler
Bobby Martin
Nicole McMahan
Caryl Morgan
Laurie Spencer
William Struby
Patrick Uva
George Wilson
Janice Wright