Food and Storytelling Intersect in 'Potluck' Production, Staged Over Three Nights at The Depot

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2x4 Productions & Oklahoma StoryWorks will perform “Potluck,” an evening of sharing food and telling stories, as part of the theatre companyʼs ongoing Food Project at 7 p.m. on June 21, 22, and 23 at The Depot, 200 S. Jones, Norman.

All are invited to bring a potluck dish to share and enjoy a staged reading of Norman playwright Sheryl Martinʼs newest work, “Potluck.” The show includes monologues based on interviews with Norman residents, who shared with Martin their memories of food, cooking, everyday family dinners, and special celebrations, as well as concerns about whatʼs in the food weʼre eating, whoʼs going hungry, and how we deal with food fears.

In addition to scripted monologues, the show will feature food-related improv games, and some off-the-cuff storytelling by some of the areaʼs finest and most experienced actors: Al Bostick, Kym Bracken, Kathy Kelly Christos, Sue Ellen Reiman, and Terry Veal.

Martin herself is a nearly-thirty-year veteran of Norman and OKC-Metro area theatre.

“I came to Norman in 1989 to work for Street Players Theatre, and I found people who encouraged each other to make the best theatre they could,” Martin said. “We created 2x4 Productions in 1993 and weʼve toured shows to schools, libraries, college campuses, and performing arts centers all over Oklahoma."

“Oklahoma StoryWorks, our newest project, will give us the opportunity to explore the communities weʼve visited, listen to their stories, and create theatre that lets Oklahomans hear each others voices," she continued. “Norman is the perfect place to start—itʼs become my home. “And food seems like a perfect starting point, too. Everybody eats.”

“Potluck” is only one in a series of community offerings in The Food Project. Over the past year the company has presented a Food Talk Forum at The Depot, with guest speaker April Heiple of Food & Shelter, Inc; a storytelling workshop, “Whatʼs Your Story?” led by actor/director/Griot Al Bostick as part of the Norman Arts Councilʼs Undercover Artists series; a Soundpainting workshop led by certified Soundpainter and Norman native Nicole Poole; and improv workshops at Norman North High School, taught by OKC Improv Managing Director Sue Ellen Reiman.

“Potluck” is a work in progress, one that Martin hopes to fine-tune and take on the road.

“Weʼre inviting everyone who comes to see the show to stay for an Audience Talkback, to hear their questions and feedback.”

Admission to the event is free, and a potluck dish can include “anything from fried chicken to vegan burritos or a family-size bag of chips,” according to Martin. “No judging, just sharing and eating.”

The Depot will be open at 6:30 each evening of the run and Hostesses will be on hand to help everyone find a spot for their potluck dishes.

“The show will start at 7:00pm,” said Martin. “Or as soon after that as everyone is sitting down with something to eat. And thereʼll be a 15-minute intermission so everyone can grab some desert!”

The Food Project and “Potluck” are made possible by assistance and grants from The Norman Arts Council Sudden Opportunity Support Program and The Depot, and by the generous support of the Mid-America Arts Allianceʼs Arts Innovation Program and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Depot and the Norman Arts Council have served as community partners for the Food Project.

New Sculpture Welcoming Visitors to Norman's Newest Library Celebrated with Dedication Ceremony

 Prairie Wind is in the final stages of fabrication at Johnson's studio and soon set to be transported to Norman for installation.

Prairie Wind is in the final stages of fabrication at Johnson's studio and soon set to be transported to Norman for installation.

Norman’s latest public artwork — made possible by the Norman Forward 1% for Art program — will greet visitors at the new East Branch Norman Public Library, which opens to the public on Friday, July 20. A dedication to the sculpture, titled Prairie Wind, will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 28. 

Illinois-based artist James Johnson has been fabricating the sculpture since being chosen last summer. The $30,000 project sought artists through an open call for requests for qualifications this past fall, attracting 125 applicants from across the country and world. 

A selection panel composed of a City of Norman designee, Public Arts Board member, Norman Arts Council board member, Ad Hoc Committee member, the designer/architect of the complex, Norman Forward representative, Library representative, arts expert and at large community members deliberated over artist qualifications. 

The 1% for Art project team encouraged artwork that would complement the beauty of the site and the architecture of the building, expressing a spirit of wonderment, curiosity and learning inherent to all libraries. Johnson’s proposed sculpture hit all those marks, taking cues from the natural environment of the site and the building itself. 

The sculpture was constructed with Corten steel, the same material being utilized on the façade of the Library building. The artwork is 14 feet tall and weighs approximately 4,000 pounds, making it clearly visible to street traffic and visitors alike. The sculpture will also be positioned so that during the Solstice, the sun will shine through the sculpture and onto the building.

Johnson is well-versed in creating large scale public art works, having completed numerous works currently on permanent and temporary exhibition in Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa. He is inspired by ancient cultures, especially that of the Mayan and Inca, as a means to communicate lifestyle and culture. With a career spanning over 40 years, the sculptor has taught in colleges across the Midwest when not working on his own craft. 

Johnson’s work will join Mark Aeling’s SPLASH — located at the recently opened Westwood Family Aquatic Center — as Norman’s two newest public art projects made possible through the Norman Forward 1% for Art program. Details about the proposed work at the new Central Branch Norman Public Library will be announced soon, as well. 

Poole Travel Award Makes Trips Across North America Possible for Two Oklahoma Artists

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Oklahoma artists Mayumi Kiefer and Solomon Mahlatini will have their travels to Utah and Mexico City, respectively, to further their artistic practices funded in part through the Norman Arts Council-administered O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund. 

The award began in 2014 as a means to honor the late Norman painter O. Gail Poole, a longtime proponent of seeing the world to inform your art and career therein. Since 2014, Oklahoma artists Marwin Begaye, Douglas Shaw Elder, Sarah Engel-Barnett, Skip Hill, Debby Kaspari, Liz Roth, Craig Swan and Holly Wilson have been able to travel to conferences, retreats and journeys of inspiration across the world because of awards from the fund, spreading Oklahoma’s creativity to others in the process.

 Ceramic pieces of Kiefer made with the Ittekoi Kiln

Ceramic pieces of Kiefer made with the Ittekoi Kiln

Mayumi Kiefer is a Norman-based ceramic artist who has exhibited and had residencies in Japan, France, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma and more. With the Japanese designer’s approval, Kiefer built the first Ittekoi kiln outside of Japan at the University of Oklahoma and will use the award to travel to Price, Utah to construct another kiln at Utah State University Eastern, aimed to help build community, advance ceramics studies and jumpstart at stagnant economy in the eastern portion of the state. 

The Ittekoi Kiln is a modern kiln at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park located in Shiga, Japan, and one of six such ancient kilns of Japan. Kiefer previously held a residency at Shigaraki, which is how she came to build one at the University of Oklahoma. 

The constructed kiln will be utilized in programming offered by The Arts Center in Utah, which includes significant outreach to local public schools in the region where government spending on the arts is near zero. 

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Mahlatini is a talented artist who has shown in exhibitions in in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New York, California, Oklahoma and Washington D.C.. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe and now studying at East Central University in Ada, Mahlatini will use his travel award to visit Mexico City, home to the Frida Kahlo Museum (memorializing one of his biggest artistic inspirations) and a number of other world-class museums and galleries. 

Sexuality, race and tyranny are the themes most often explored his Mahlatini’s work, though visually expressed through the cultural traits and practices that he absorbed from his time growing up in Zimbabwe. He sees similar cultural traits in the artistic history of the Chickasaw Nation — headquartered in his college town — as well as in Mexican culture. In addition to a dose of inspiration, Mahlatini aims to explore the universalities and parallels of all three respective cultures and how that translation towards artistic expression. 

The O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Fund will open up with applications for more artists to apply for a travel award in Spring 2019. 

Learn Collage, Make A Keepsake with Artist Marissa Raglin

Norman Arts Council started the Undercover Artist series in 2017 to introduce would-be artists to a variety of different creative mediums through hands-on learning experiences aimed for novices, amateurs and intermediate artists, alike. Covering subjects like sculpting, storytelling and photography so far, the latest Undercover Artist workshop on collage is led by artist Marissa Raglin!

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Marissa Raglin: Custom Collage
2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 16
MAINSITE Contemporary Art | 122 E. Main, Norman

"Custom Collage" invites guests to bring their own reproductions of family photos, postcards, and/or family recipe cards to create their own 9 in. x 12 in. hand made collage work on paper under Marissa Raglin's direction. Leaning on design basics, guests are encouraged to alter the imagery they bring and add texture and shapes to create their own narrative. 

Artists Marissa Raglin and J. Chris Johnson Bring Solo Exhibitions to MAINSITE Contemporary Art

Memories and the emotions tied to them act as a binder between artists Marissa Raglin and J. Chris Johnson, who will each occupy MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main, Norman with solo exhibitions that open this June.

The exhibitions will be celebrated with an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 8 and run through Saturday, July 14 with a closing reception scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, July 13. Both receptions occur in conjunction with the free 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk — presented by Norman Arts Council — that takes place monthly in the Walker Arts District of Downtown Norman. 

 Nest IV by Marissa Raglin

Nest IV by Marissa Raglin

Raglin is an Oklahoma City visual artist and the 2017-2018 Skirvin Paseo Artist in Residence at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel located in downtown Oklahoma City. Currently working in analog collage and resin, she can be found knee-deep in old illustration books and magazines plucked from thrift stores and half-priced book shops. 

Raglin earned her BA in Studio Art from Oklahoma Baptist University with an emphasis in painting. However, she always found herself gravitating to works on paper. It was not until 2014 that Raglin picked up the Xacto knife and began working in collage. 

“Creating with images delicately removed with a cutting blade from vintage magazines, books, and postcards, I favor the endless assemblages of collage imagery,” Raglin said in an artist statement. “Using original, unaltered imagery and basic design elements, the images are compiled and become unified, telling one story. I am drawn to repetition, color, and pattern. Using these elements, I focus on the story that develops between the images” 

Her artist residency program — Cut & Paste OK — has seen her guiding guests at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel to create their own handmade collage postcards, using family photos, magazine clippings, found art and more to assemble their own story through collage. This exhibition, titled Horizons, is her largest showcase since undertaking the artist residency. 

Raglin will provide that opportunity during her exhibition as well, leading an Undercover Artist workshop on collage from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 at MAINSITE. Guests are invited to bring reproductions of family photos, postcards and/or family recipe cards to create their own handmade collage work on paper under Raglin’s direction. Registration for the workshop is $25 and available now.

 J. Chris Johnson

J. Chris Johnson

Johnson is a prolific, Norman-based oil painter interested in exploring the lives of people around him and bringing into focus that which many people tend to overlook. Johnson got started primarily in portraiture made of dark colors and lines that focused on themes of struggle. The works on display in his MAINSITE exhibition highlight his evolution as an artist as he delves deeper into what it means to confront the viewer with his art. 

His vibrant paintings depict objects engulfed in flame and smoke. They seek to immerse the viewer in the disaster taking place. The juxtaposition of the inviting colors and the tragic subject matter forces the viewer into a struggle with subject. The result is at once unsettling and calming.  

Photographer John Schaefer will have works on display in the Library Gallery. A practicing lawyer, Schaefer’s exhibition features images taken in the enchanting and mysterious countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. 

MAINSITE Contemporary Art is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer. Special appointments can be made for viewing on Saturdays.