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. 

Norman Arts Now Accepting Fall 2018 Arts Education Scholarships

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In 2012, the Norman Arts Council introduced the Robert Kidd III Arts Programs Scholarship Fund to provide support for students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade who are residents of Norman to attend arts education programs with an established arts organization or educator. Awards are given for fall, spring and summer class sessions and can be used for private lessons, classes with an art organization or business (in Norman or elsewhere) or any other art education opportunity.

Scholarship Program Mission:  The Norman Arts Council Arts Education Scholarships are intended to provide Norman children with the opportunity to attend arts programming that is offered outside of schools.

Fall 2018 Arts Education Scholarships


The Robert Kidd III Arts Programs Scholarship Fund is made possible with support from Republic Bank and Trust, Norman Communities Foundation, Allied Arts and the City of Norman.

ELIGIBILITY: The Norman Arts Council invites students in grades K-8 who live or go to school in Norman, Oklahoma to apply for a scholarship to offset the cost of an arts education experience provided by an established arts organization or educator.

APPLICATIONS: The NAC has recently restructured their scholarship criteria, so there is new information. Only Applications submitted through the on-line process will be considered for funding. Applications must be 100% completed for consideration. "I don't know" or "unsure" answers will deem an incomplete application.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The NAC is seeking applications for scholarships from students who:

  • express a strong desire to enhance their arts education experience beyond what is offered at schools

  • demonstrate a past commitment to visual or performing arts

  • have the ability to commit to the completion of the program

  • have a financial need that prevents them from funding the tuition themselves

  • priority will be given to new applicants, low income applicants, and applicants seeking funds for visual arts programs

  • $500 is the maximum award a single student will be granted

  • Applications must be 100% completed

Applicants will not be turned down for not meeting all of the criteria. It is encouraged, however, to try to meet as many as possible and to address the criteria directly in the proposal.

AWARDS: Award notification will be by email. Due to limited funds, applicants may not receive the full funding requested and/or may not receive any funding at this time.

DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS: Upon award notification and receipt of agreement, the Norman Arts Council will give the awarded funds directly to the organization or individual implementing the program applied for on behalf of the student. Should the program be cancelled for any reason by the organization or individual implementing, the funds will be returned to the Norman Arts Council’s scholarship program and may be applied for during the next cycle.

COMMITMENT TO PROGRAM: Upon award notification, the student’s parent or legal guardian will receive an agreement that states they will commit to ensuring the student’s regular attendance to the program. If the student fails to attend at least 75% of the program, the student will be asked to withdraw; any remaining funds will be returned to the Norman Arts Council’s scholarship program; and the student will not be eligible in the future.

AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS: The total amount of scholarship funds available may be awarded to one applicant or divided among multiple applicants. The Norman Arts Council reserves the right to not award any scholarships should there be a lack of qualified candidates or shortage of scholarship funds.

LIABILITY: Award recipients and their guardians agree to indemnify and hold harmless the NAC, its employees, its agents, and its Board of Directors, in connection with any action, claim, lawsuit, charge, or proceeding, including but not limited to any civil action in State or Federal Court, or before any State or Federal agency, which is made or brought against recipients, NAC, and/or any of NAC's employees, agents, or board members, by any person or entity, based upon and/or arising out of a recipient's use of the funds.

APPEALS: Any applicant who is denied a scholarship in whole or in part may only appeal directly to the NAC Education Committee on the following grounds: 1) discrimination against the applicant or its membership on the basis of: race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability, which is shown to have materially and adversely affected the outcome of their application; 2) illegal activity on the part of the Education Committee or a member of the Education Committee, which is shown to have materially and adversely affected the outcome of their application.

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. 

The dedication will take place outside the library, 3001 Alameda Street. Parking at the site is limited. You may wish to carpool or park on Ridge Lake Blvd. in the Summit Lakes Addition. 

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. 


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.