Like so many others in the metro, our crew was disappointed when Oklahoma Contemporary had to postpone the grand opening of their new space, thanks to a certain pandemic. But we have been thoroughly enjoying their virtual offerings in anticipation of a rescheduled opening. We were thrilled when Contemporary recently opened their new space with much-appreciated safety procedures in place, staff and volunteers who are so delighted to welcome and engage with guests and incredibly creative artwork to examine.
Guests can now reserve FREE tickets up to two weeks in advance, with timed entry and very limited guests at a time. Masks are required for all guests and staff.
All five of us agreed: this gem was worth the wait! Here are our family’s top 5 reasons why you should check out Oklahoma Contemporary ASAP!
- Interactive art experiences. The Bright Golden Haze gallery is dedicated to artists’ use of light. We created our own family scavenger hunt of sorts to locate the one Oklahoma artist featured here (and Yatika Fields’ larger-than-life oil on canvas painting Eternal Sun, based on his memories of landscapes in his travels happened to be one of our favorites). We loved testing out standing in the golden light of at Black Glass Eclipse, a hanging orb that cancels color, which seemed to magically drain all the color from our clothing. Our favorite piece in this exhibit was Star Ceiling, a dark room with an LED show on the ceiling depicting the night sky. Creative seating areas allow you to relax and gaze upward. We could have stayed here all day!
- Oklahoma photography. Shadow on the Glare gallery features photo and video works focused on light and space, particularly in Oklahoma landscapes. We all enjoyed Wah.shka, the collaboration of a photographer and filmmaker to produce a short video of landscape images intermingled with the sounds of ceremonial dancers. Many of the photographs in the space spurred conversation or emotion: one made us giggle, several made us wonder how the artists had captured such unique colors.
- Outdoor exploration. After (mostly) being on their best behavior inside, my three kids’ favorite part of the day was exploring Jen Lewin’s Aqueous interactive light installation that winds through Campbell Art Park. The Candyland board game-like pathway reflects the sky during the day, and at night lights up and reacts to visitors’ steps. Signage encourages guests to social distance; we were extra fortunate that we got to explore the piece all by ourselves!
- Monthly free public programs. Contemporary’s beloved Second Saturdays return this month on Sept. 12 with outdoor fun for all ages. Both in September and on Oct. 10, families can enjoy paint-by-number on the street and socially-distanced artmaking on the north lawn with a DJ performance.
- Making art engaging for kids. Taking young children to an art gallery can present some unique challenges. Because this beautiful space is free and fairly quick to enjoy, I felt I could give my boys an intro to appreciating art without expecting them to hang for half a day. My daughter, husband and I could linger a little longer to explore artwork descriptions and discuss our thoughts and reactions. All the staff and volunteers are so kid-friendly, welcoming our crew joyfully and explaining fun tidbits to my kids to engage them future. I appreciated that they explained some basic rules, like making sure to stand behind black tape on the ground, in a gracious and kid-appropriate manner, and pointed out especially kid-friendly spots we should make sure to see. The message is clear throughout the space: kids are welcome here!
The new space also includes a cafe’ with a kid’s menu as well as coffee, tea, small bites, sandwiches, salads, pasta and desserts. A small gift shop includes books, art, home goods and kid items. We were very pleased with all the COVID precautions in place, grateful that we could get out and enjoy this new experience while feeling very safe.
We look forward to many more future visits!