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Indepth Arts News:

"Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things"
2008-08-22 until 2009-01-26
Price Tower Art Center
Bartlesville, OK, USA United States of America

On August 22nd, Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma began the conversation through art about the environmental impact of today’s society by utilizing the vocabulary of upcycling, recycling, consumption and squander. The exhibition entitled, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, will explore the new world of object reassignment, presenting creative repurposed or ‘upcycled’ objects that both stretch the imagination and suggest how to reduce the impact on the environment. From repurposed puzzle pieces on wallpaper to oversized photographs showing the massive disposal of cell phones, this exhibition makes the audience pause in a moment of awe and personal reflection. This inaugural exhibition is a part of Price Tower Arts Center’s new Triennial exhibition series, appropriately dubbed 3-logy (pronounced trilogy), which will examine international contemporary artwork produced or manufactured in the last three years.

With over 30 objects on display, contemporary artists like Tracy Kendall and Kate Goldsworthy from Great Britain, Volksware from Germany, Anke Weiss from the Netherlands, Miwa Koizumi from Japan, Zac Freeman from Florida, and Jill Weinstock from New York will be represented at Price Tower Arts Center, 510 Dewey Avenue, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, from August 22, 2008 to January 6, 2009.

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things addresses the serious environmental issues the world is facing in a playful and inventive way. The works are visually stunning in their own right, so that even the casual viewer will be fascinated by the creative transformation of common objects such as audio tapes, floppy disks, water bottles, newspapers, old clothes, and more.

T here have been few U.S. exhibitions that have highlighted this topic of sustainability in the form of art. Imaginative Qualities may well ignite a new international dialogue from the heartland of the U.S. It raises questions about the role of art and culture in developing a sustainable future. It offers new models for artistic practice and in the process, expanding the notion of what can be considered art. The exhibition’s concepts and contents raise questions about our society’s habits of consumption and attitudes toward the environment, natural and human resources and offer artistically conceived alternatives.

Many of the artists featured are exploring the manipulation of common objects to create secondary functions and works of art, for example, El Anatsui’s Detrius series, 2007-2008, a textile-like piece made of recycled wine bottle wrappers. Everyday objects such as puzzle pieces, electronic parts, VHS tapes, old clothing, books, newspapers, and even skyscrapers are rousing artists and designers to convey new ideas and fresh perspectives into issues of production, display, decoration and use.

Michaela Merryday, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of Tulsa, co-curates this exhibition along with Price Tower Arts Center’s Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Scott W. Perkins, Ph.D. candidate in History of Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture at Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York, NY. Dr. Merryday was chosen for her extensive knowledge and experience with contemporary public and political art practices. She previously had been nominated for the Council of Graduate Schools’ Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2003. She has received numerous research grants, including a number of Faculty Development Grants, a Women’s Studies Development Grant and several Kravis Travel Grants.

Dr. Merryday says, “While not all of the projects presented here offer practical or realizable solutions, they ask the audience critically to examine their own habits, their community’s environmental policies, and, in an election year, the environmental policies of the presidential candidates. Simultaneously, the exhibition seeks to inspire the audience to think about changes in their own lives and communities that would contribute toward a sustainable future. In short, the exhibition addresses issue of political currency … A museum exhibition allows us to address these issues in a neutral space divorced from political partisanship. We would like this exhibition to serve as such a forum for the communities of Northeast Oklahoma.”

Mr. Perkins, who envisioned the 3-logy series, adds, “This extraordinary opportunity to collaboration with Dr. Merryday, an expert in environmental and contemporary artwork, and the University of Tulsa provides a platform for discussion with students, professors, and the general public on up-to-the minute issues in the art world.” The vibrant duo will bring some of the most innovative artworks to the doorsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright’s only built skyscraper, the Price Tower.

The 3-logy series was formulated to encompass the three concentrations of Price Tower Arts Center’s collection – art, architecture and design - with a nod to the triangularity of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower design. Each exhibition will feature up-and-coming and established artists, architects and designers whose work engages with the central theme of each triennial exhibition.

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