Clarity and Mystery Duel in Debby Kaspari and Don Holladay's Solo Exhibitions at MAINSITE

Artist Debby Kaspari has long worked to capture every wonderful little detail in her meticulous illustrations of birds and plein air drawings of nature vignettes. Don Holladay, on the other hand, is increasingly fascinated with showcasing “a certain vagueness” with his eclectic works, even destroying a finished piece to recreate something new to him and the viewer alike. 

Together, the two Oklahoma-based artists will showcase that dichotomy through their work in two solo exhibitions opening on Friday, August 10 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main, Norman and running through Friday, September 14.

The exhibitions will be celebrated with an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, August 10 with a closing reception scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 14. 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. 

  Platte River Cottonwood  by Debby Kaspari

Platte River Cottonwood by Debby Kaspari

Kaspari has drawn and painted nature for most of her life. A graduate of the California College of the Arts, Harvard Fellow and Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists, she has worked as an illustrator and designer both in San Francisco and her adopted home of Oklahoma, where she has lived since 1995. She’s worked extensively with the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and shown painting and drawings nationally, including a solo show at the Museum of American Bird Art and in the Woodson’s Museum’s juried Birds in Art exhibit. Her husband Mike Kaspari teaches ecology at OU. 

This collection of works — titled Waterscapes/Plein Air — centers on her work literally in the field, capturing the natural wonders of America’s landscape in Maine, Nebraska, California and Oklahoma … specifically near a water edge somewhere. 

“I was always within earshot of the burble of water,” Kaspari said. “Where water flows, nature follows.”

A selection of the works were made possible in part by Norman Arts Council’s O. Gail Poole Memorial Travel Award, which allowed Kaspari to venture up and paint on Maine’s Monhegan Island, a fabled artist destination. 

  Melting Pot  by Don Holladay 

Melting Pot by Don Holladay 

Holladay’s exhibition Visual Conversation is, by design, harder to pin down. The show consists of a variety of media (wood & copper etchings, oils on paper, collages, lithographs and more) created by a variety of often unusual materials, including sticks, Q-Tips, knives, pebbles, sand and burlap. 

“The one central component running through this eclectic group of images is a certain vagueness about the content of most piece,” Holladay said. “I try to always stop working on a piece before I think it is really finished. Even then, in the last few years I have become comfortable with destroying enough of a finished piece to recreate something new out of the destruction.” 

His inclination to break the rules is seemingly at odds with his longtime career as a lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. But art has long been the perfect counterpart to that work. 

Painting since 1973 and studying printmaking in the early ’90s, Holladay has exhibited works across the world in regional and international juried competitions, popping up in art publications and is currently the board chair of the Oklahoma Arts Institute Foundation. 

Artist Ryan Mackie will have sculptural works on display in the Library Gallery. Celebrating the materials going into each piece, Mackie highlights the differences between the soft and the stoic, the fluid and the static through steel, cement, thread and dye that plays with gravity and establishes connections between opposites.  

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.