Reboot Your Creativity with International Artist Skip Hill

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Everyone has an artist lurking within. Undercover Artists is a series of art workshops — led by some of Norman's finest artists — debuting in 2017 that celebrates the creativity of amateurs and practiced artists, alike. The workshops, inviting all skill levels and a variety of ages, are equal parts fun and informative, a collaborative community experience that will let that inner artist come to the forefront for a spell (or maybe unleash a new, long love affair).

The next workshop in the series is Asking Your Creativity to Dance: A Creative Reboot with Skip Hill from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 7 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main. The beloved international artist will share his story and advice for getting back up on the horse after a long break away from art and other creative work.

"If there is one phrase I hear more than any other from creatives it's, 'I wish I could get back to making my art again,'" Hill said. "My first question is usually 'Why did you stop?' followed by 'What will it take to get you making Art again? How do you make space in your life for an art practice? How do you re-engage the creative activity that at one point brought you so much joy, expression and challenge?'"

Rebooting your inner artist, uncovering your internal creative blocks to making art, and learning exercises and strategies to overcome those creative blocks is the purpose of this two hour workshop facilitated by artist Skip Hill.


Skip Hill creates lyrical collage paintings and drawings that blend High and Low aesthetics through a tapestry of styles rooted in cultures around the world. Hill's images and forms are drawn from such diverse sources as comic books, Folk art, tribal textiles, Ukiyo prints, Asian calligraphy, and Western Art History to produce Art that engages the viewer in a visually meditative experience. His artwork is found in private and public collections in the US, the UK, France, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and the Netherlands.

Norman Arts Council Announces RFQ for Central Norman Library Public Art Project

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Norman Arts Council on behalf of The City of Norman and Norman Forward Percent for Art, for Norman Public Library Central, is seeking an artist (or team of artists) to create a significant work of art for the new Norman Public Library Central Branch to be located at 103 West Acres Street, Norman, Oklahoma.

Norman is a growing, progressive city located 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City and is the third-largest city in Oklahoma. The citizens of Norman initiated NORMAN FORWARD, a proposal to renovate, expand, construct and fund Quality of Life projects, such as multiple recreational facilities, libraries, parks, athletic venues, public art, trails, swim complexes and other quality of life projects throughout Norman.  The initiative went to the City Council from community groups, stakeholders and Norman residents, who prepared an initial package using analysis and information from recreational planning professionals and research firms. In 2015, the City Council placed NORMAN FORWARD on a ballot that was overwhelmingly supported by Norman voters. For more information about Norman, please see and

The Norman Public Library Central Branch is part of the Pioneer Library System whose mission is to inspire innovation, engagement and learning in our communities. This mission is realized through cutting edge technologies and 21st century customer service strategies. The oldest of eight multi-county library systems in Oklahoma, Pioneer began in 1958 and serves Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties with branch libraries in ten communities including Norman.

The library will be in a located in an area that is historically significant and in the heart of Norman. There are historic homes in the neighborhoods to the East and to the South sits Andrew’s Park, established in the late 1890s and improved during the New Deal, between 1935 and 1937, which is a verdant and beloved space. This area is also the hub for Legacy Trail that creates links across town -- connecting the library and downtown to the University of Oklahoma (further south) and Ruby Grant Park in the far northwest part of Norman.

The new library will also be near City Hall, the city’s administrative services offices, and a very vibrant downtown including the designated Walker Arts District.

The Library

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Norman Public Library Central Branch will provide its users with 21st century services with new models of information access, digital/physical collections and spaces that support active and participatory learning.

The first floor of the building is parallel and at the same elevation as the regional rail tracks that follow Legacy Trails and James Garner Ave. By rotating the upper two floors, the amount of daylight and visual integration of the interior spaces with the natural surroundings of gardens, a small reading grove, public plaza, and Andrews Park is enhanced.

Entrances to the first floor are easily accessible to vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic and bring the visitor into the information marketplace of the library and children’s collections. Digital literacy will be supported in the library with a digital classroom, maker space, and lending services. Computer stations, adult collections, study rooms and meeting rooms will be located on the upper two floors. An outdoor terrace will overlook the plaza and Andrews Park.

The Artwork

The Project Team has determined that the most effective artwork will be a monumental,  exterior piece located in either of the two spaces indicated on the attached site plan. Because the library is one story where the plaza is located, (the circle on the attached plan), a component of the artwork could be located on the roof of that story which would make it very visible from the other two stories when viewed from inside the library. (The limit weight load of the roof would have to be determined and taken into consideration.)

Since the work of art will be outside, it should complement the natural beauty of the site and the architecture of the building as well as welcome all visitors to the library. The artwork should also express qualities inherent in all libraries, e.g. a sense of wonderment, curiosity, learning and inclusiveness. Visitors, staff, and customers should be able to interact with the chosen artwork by listening to it or observing it reacting to changes in light, seasons or weather.

It is the desire of the Project Team for this work of art be a very visible addition to the cultural fabric of Norman relating to its history, but also its current importance to the state and country, as well as its future. Because the library and this art will be located in the heart and administrative center of the city, it is hoped that it will become an iconic symbol of the spirit of Norman.

The Project Team is open to any media or material that is appropriate to the site as long as it is durable, safe, low maintenance and vandalism resistant.


The total artist's fee for the project is $230,000.00. This amount must cover all associated costs including design, materials, fabrication, lighting, travel, insurance coverage, shipping and installation.

Artist Eligibility

Open to professional artists with experience working on public art projects of this scale and creating site-specific works.


  • RFQ Deadline: Friday, October 27, 2017 at 11:00pm (CST)

The following dates are subject to change:

  • Notify Artists:  By Wednesday, December 20, 2017
  • Finalists’ Site Visit: By Friday, January 12, 2018
  • Finalists’ Presentation of Proposals: By Friday, March 2, 2018
  • Selection of Artist: By Thursday, March  16, 2018
  • Opening of Norman Public Library Central: June 15, 2019

Application Guidelines

Submissions for this project must contain the following materials:

  • A one page maximum typed letter of interest outlining your qualifications for and interest in the project, as well as the general idea for your approach.  Please consider the following questions when developing your letter of interest:
    • Why do you want to work on this project?
    • How would you approach this project? 
    • What materials do you work with that would be appropriate for outdoor use?
    • Have you worked on similar projects? If not, what relevant experiences do you have?
    • How does the project relate to your current work?
  • Resume (not to exceed three pages)
  • 10 to 15 digital high resolution images of previous work you feel would support your ability to carry out this project
  • Annotated image list in desired priority of viewing that corresponds with the names of the digital files and includes the following information:
    • Artist’s name, Title of artwork, medium, size, date of artwork completion, location and project details (i.e. Budget commissioning agency, etc., if public art).
    • The list should be sorted in desired priority of viewing.
    • A list of three references with whom you have worked on a public art project, including current telephone number and/or email address.

Questions or for more information, contact:
Debby Williams, Norman Arts Council, Percent for Art Project Manager

Committee and Selection Criteria

The artist will be selected based on the materials submitted---please see the Application Guidelines above. Selection for this project will be made by a panel including stakeholders, design professionals, a City representative, a member of the Norman Public Art board and members of the arts community. The panel will be looking at the merit of the artist’s work, past experience at completing projects on time and within budget, and appropriateness and maintenance requirements of the proposed concept. The Panel will also consider artists who can demonstrate sensitivity to the site and surroundings. Artists must be able to commit and effectively work within the project timeline and collaborate with the Library administration.

Selection Process

The Selection Panel will review applicants’ submissions and then select three finalists who will come to Norman for a mandatory site visit to meet with the Project Team and others. They will be paid a $750.00 allowance to cover transportation, hotel and per diem expenses for the site visit. After the site visit, they will be asked to create a site specific design proposal that will include:

  • a scale model, maquette, or computer generated design
  • an itemized budget
  • a project timeline
  • project narrative
  • maintenance plan

The finalists selected will each be awarded an honorarium of $1,250.00 for their proposal. Finalists will be required to present their proposals in person to the Selection Panel. Artists will receive a $750.00 allowance for transportation, hotel and per diem expenses for the proposal presentations. The Selection Panel will make the final decision on the artist awarded the project.

Commissioning of artists is implemented without preference to racial or ethnic origins, sex, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disability or age.

Picher Exhibition Closes With Reception Sept. 7 at OU

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A summer exhibition exploring the environmental demise and eventual dissolution of a small Oklahoma town comes to a close in September at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Picher, Oklahoma: Catastrophe, Memory and Trauma, which opened in June, will close with a public lecture and reception at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7.

An Oklahoma boomtown, once responsible for billions of dollars of zinc and ore during both World Wars, Picher now sits vacant and uninhabitable after a series of environmental catastrophes. Picher, Oklahoma: Catastrophe, Memory and Trauma gives insight into the devastation caused by depleting natural resources in the nation’s heartland.

The exhibition of photography and found objects explores the dissolution of Picher after its designation as part of the 1983 Tar Creek Superfund Site and tornado disaster in 2008.

Alison Fields, the Mary Lou Milner Carver Professor of Art of the American West and associate professor of art history at the University of Oklahoma, will deliver a lecture at 7 p.m. titled Displaced Memories in Picher, Oklahoma, followed by a reception at 8 p.m. Both are complimentary and open to the public.

What began as an initial visit to Picher, shortly after an F4 tornado forced residents to abandon the damaged remains of their town, turned into a nine-year project for photographer Todd Stewart.

“For many years, my concerns as a photographer have been centered on the idea that landscapes are embedded with memory and history – that personal, cultural and historical narrative is what defines a place,” he said. “I’m drawn to landscapes where evidence of this fact is evident, and where, as a photographer, I believe I can represent these ideas in my work.”

Stewart, who is the associate professor of art, technology and culture in the OU School of Visual Arts, collaborated with Fields to produce a photoessay that was published last year by the University of Oklahoma Press. That book became the genesis for the exhibition at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

“The tornado had leveled houses in a significant part of the town, leaving only building foundations and pavement still in place,” Stewart said. “The ground was layered with material artifacts: photographs, books, clothes, toys, letters. All lay bare on the ground, all dislocated, all removed from their original context. During the next few years, each time I returned to Picher I found less and less remaining, the landscape increasingly enveloping everything left behind.”

A series of photographs of Picher, taken by Stewart from 2008 to 2017, documents Picher’s entangled identities – the thriving small town that is proud of its churches, schools and contributions to the U.S. military; the country’s most toxic Superfund site; the otherworldly ghost town precariously positioned over massive sinkholes. Stewart’s images, along with found objects collected by the artist,detail the way that memory, embedded in the artifacts, landscapes and structures left behind, is dislocated and reframed through events of environmental trauma.

“Picher’s demise raises the question, when material and physical markers of identity are destroyed, what remains to tell the story of the past?” said Fields. “This exhibit attempts to unravel the deep connections among memory, place and identity in Picher.”

The former town of Picher is located eight miles north of Miami on U.S. Highway 69. Situated on Quapaw tribal lands, the town had its beginnings in a 1913 zinc and oil discovery. In the Tri-State Lead and Zinc district, a network of underground mines extending from Treece, Kansas, to Joplin, Missouri, Picher became the top-producing mining field and reached a population of over 14,000 in the 1920s. Playing a major role in both World Wars, the mining field produced more than $20 billion in ore from 1917 to 1947.

After the mines largely closed in 1967, Picher was left with a transformed landscape. Ore production led to massive piles of chat (fine gravel waste made up of leftover mineral fragments), which still are standing today.  The mine waste covered 25,000 acres and devastated Quapaw lands and the town’s economy. Abandoned mines filled with groundwater and acid seeped into Tar Creek. Sinking ground over former mineshafts swallowed homes.

In 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the Tar Creek Superfund Site the most toxic 47 square miles in America, including the towns of Picher, Cardin, Quapaw, Commerce and North Miami. Despite remediation efforts, in 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers declared that the town was unsafe, noting that one-third of the town’s homes were threatened by underground caverns. On May 10, 2008, an F4 tornado hit Picher, causing extensive damage and injuries, and taking six lives. Afterward, there were no attempts to rebuild.

“From Picher’s incorporation in 1918 to its formal dissolution in 2014, its mining industry fueled war efforts, supported generations of miners and their families, and ultimately left behind immense underground voids and towering mountains of waste,” Fields said.

An educational space within the exhibition provides hands-on art activities and props that encourage discussion and storytelling. A writing workshop with creative writer and OU graduate student Matt Jacobson is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1.

The exhibition closes Sept. 10 in the Nancy Johnston Records Gallery.

More information about Picher, Oklahoma: Catastrophe, Memory and Trauma and related programs is available on the museum’s website at

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is located in the OU Arts District on the corner of Elm Avenue and Boyd Street, at 555 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus. Admission to the museum is complimentary to all visitors, thanks to the generosity of the OU Office of the President and the OU Athletics Department. The museum is closed on Mondays. Information and accommodations are available by calling (405) 325-4938 or visiting



An exhibition revealing the tragic demise of Picher, Oklahoma, comes to a close with a public reception Sept. 7 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Objects found by photographer Todd Stewart, such as this ceramic work, as well as photographs of the landscape, reveal the effects of environmental trauma on a once booming small town.

Todd Stewart (U.S., b. 1963)
Blue Boy, n.d.
Image courtesy of the artist

Norman Welcomes French Artists to Oklahoma through Norman Arts Council's Cultural Connections Program

Cecile Gambini

Cecile Gambini

Three French artists will exhibit works in Norman through Norman Arts Council’s Cultural Connections Program. Clermont-Ferrand-based artists Hervé Bréhier, Cecile Gambini and Anne Marie Rognon will showcase works made onsite and abroad from Friday, September 8 through Friday, November 10 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main, Norman.

A public opening reception will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 8 with the closing set for 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, November 10, both in conjunction with the free monthly 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk. An artist and curator gallery tour will also take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 9 for those wanting to learn more about the artists, their works and the culture of their city.

Norman Arts Council developed the Cultural Connections program in 2015 with the aim of furthering the bonds of Norman and its sister cities across the globe through cultural and art exchanges.

This cultural exchange follows a successful two-part exchange with Arezzo, Italy. The first half of the Clermont-Ferrand exchange took place in May, bringing Norman artists Jason Cytacki, Ginna Dowling and Daren Kendall to create and exhibit works in the historical Chapelle de l’Oratoire during the city’s annual art festival Les Arts en Balade.

The three Norman artists selected from dozens of applicants by a panel of stakeholders representing the Norman and Clermont-Ferrand arts and cultural interests all celebrate local life, community and neighborhood connections through varied mediums, approaches and perspectives.

Bréhier, Gambini and Rognon were the current artists taking part in a city-sponsored arts residency in Clermont-Ferrand. Bréhier is a skilled sculptor and installation artist. Gambini specializes in illustration, both fine art and for assorted publications and children’s books. Rognon is a multi-disciplinary artist with a penchant for playful creations.

To further Cultural Connections’ aim to promote the understanding of our sister city’s culture, Norman Arts Council is partnering with Le Monde International School for A Night of French Immersion from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 31 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art. The event will include refreshments and light, sweet & savory French hors d’oeuvres courtesy of La Baguette, along with a French-themed silent auction to benefit Le Monde. It’s also the public’s first chance to greet the visiting artists and see their art installation in progress. The evening is free and open to the public, but those interested should RSVP to Cher Duncan at

Hervé Bréhier

Hervé Bréhier

AnneMarie Rognon

AnneMarie Rognon

Chainsaw Kittens, The Octopus Project headline Opolis 15th Anniversary Party

Alternative legends Chainsaw Kittens are reuniting for their first show since the inaugural Norman Music Festival and being joined by the likes of Austin indie pop outfit The Octopus Project, Oklahoma City folk rockers Horse Thief, Japanese punk bands Mugen Hoso and Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re and many more local favorites in celebration of Opolis 15th Anniversary with a three day festival to be held across two stages on September 7 through 9 at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford, in the Walker Arts District of Downtown Norman.

Norman Arts Council is proud to present the festival, along with support from The Garage, The Spy FM, Fowler Automotive and Guestroom Records. The festival will take place during the September 2nd Friday Norman Art Walk

A three day pass is available now for $15 at, and $1 of every ticket goes on to support Norman Arts Council's Art Education Scholarships! 

The Norman "microvenue" has supported hundreds of local artists and shown a knack for shepherding young, emerging talent through town for memorably intimate shows. Artists like Beach House, Cold War Kids, The Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Future Islands, The Head & The Heart, Jason Isbell, Iron & Wine, Mac Demarco, The National, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Washed Out and Young The Giant have all performed at the venue before headlining festivals and selling out large rooms across the country.

Chainsaw Kittens — headlining Friday night — were underground favorites of the ’90s grunge and glam rock wave, touring with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and influencing Kurt Cobain and countless others. The group disbanded in 2000, reuniting for a performance at Norman Music Festival in 2008. The members have gone on to perform and record music in various other capacities in the years since. 

The Octopus Project — headlining Saturday night — are a fellow inaugural Norman Music Festival performer who have charmed audiences for nearly 20 years. The Austin-based quartet has toured with Devo and Explosions in the Sky, among others, and released six studio records, including this year's Memory Mirror. 

The bands will be joined by Mugen Hoso & Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re (Thursday) as well as local and regional standouts like Horse Thief, Ester Drang, Tallows, Rainbows Are Free, Helen Kelter Skelter, New Fumes and more. You can see the full, initial lineup below. 

Lineup updates and a full schedule will become available at soon!