Convention Center artist selected
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009
10/24/09 at 8:12 AM
The Arts Commission on Thursday approved world-renown artist Sarah Morris to create a large-scale, colorful, abstract wall project for the updated Tulsa Convention Center.
The artwork, which will be made of ceramic tiles in an origami pattern, is expected to cost about $360,000 and will be funded through the local ordinance that sets aside 1 percent of a project's construction dollars for art in an effort to beautify public space.
The Convention Center's $50.5 million expansion and renovation is funded through the Tulsa County Vision 2025 initiative.
A majority of commission members are pushing for Morris' work to be located on a north exterior wall of the building between the new addition and the Civic Center Parkade because of the exposure it would receive from Third Street.
But some want to see it cover the walls of a courtyard that has been created by the juxtaposition of the old Convention Center building, the parking garage and the new addition.
A decision on the location will be made at the Art Commission's Nov. 9 meeting after members are able to visit the potential sites. The location also will determine the final cost.
Speaking through a video conference from New York City, Morris told commission members about how she was inspired by the austere work of the Convention Center's original architect, Edward Durell Stone.
"He was a phenomenal architect," she said of the man who also designed the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and other famous structures. "He is quite underrated, but I think that is changing."
Morris said she created the design of the Tulsa work, using brilliant colors and geometries that she associates with the city's "unique aesthetic vocabulary and palette."
If the north exterior wall is chosen, the work will encompass more than 3,000 square feet and be made up of weather-durable, hand-crafted ceramic tiles, which will be painted and glazed. The wall is expected to be illuminated with flood lighting.
Morris said that although she prefers the courtyard site because it is a "hidden gem" and a location where the work would have a wrap-around effect on spectators, she also understands why commission members are concerned about public visibility.
The artwork is not expected to be in place in time for the Convention Center's grand opening Jan. 16, which will celebrate the completion of the addition and the new finishes for the former structure. But the goal is to have it done as soon as possible.
Arts Commission Chairman Ken Busy said Morris was in the pool of artists considered for the BOK Center, but it seemed her work would be a better fit for the Convention Center revamp.
"She's a very exciting and unique artist, and we will be proud to showcase her work here in Tulsa," he said.
Morris has done site-specific projects around the globe and has public collections at London's Tate Modern, New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, among many other institutions.
Brian Barber 581-8322
A computer-generated rendering shows how Sarah Morris' abstract, tiled artwork will look on a north exterior wall of the Tulsa Convention Center between the new addition and the parking garage.Courtesy