Mayfest artist captures Tulsa's sunrise for signature poster
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, May 05, 2011
5/05/11 at 7:05 AM
When Tulsa artist Michelle Ferment Reid was commissioned in October to create the signature image of the 2011 Tulsa International Mayfest, she looked back over the last 38 years of Mayfest poster art.
"I knew I wanted something that was representational, because this is an image that a lot of people are going to see," she said.
"And I also wanted to keep it relatively simple and clear, because it's going to be used for posters and T-shirts and note cards and things like that."
Reid also spent a good deal of time scouting Tulsa for a vantage point that would give her a view of the city that she hoped would be inspiring.
She finally decided on a spot in Chandler Park that would include two of Tulsa's iconic vistas - the city's skyline and the Arkansas River.
The result - which was unveiled Wednesday at the Helmerich Research Center at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa - is "On the Horizon."
It depicts the silhouette of a figure standing at an easel looking over a section of the Arkansas River toward downtown, with the sky beginning to turn orange with the sunrise as three scissor-tailed flycatchers fly by.
The 39th annual Tulsa International Mayfest will be held May 19-22 downtown.
This year's event will feature five indoor galleries showcasing more than 800 works by local artists, in addition to the 120 artists who will be showing and selling their work in booths along and around Main Street.
Reid's work will be auctioned off as part of the Mayfest Invitational Gallery opening May 18.
Compared with some of the past Mayfest images, which tried to capture the cacophonous nature of Tulsa's springtime festival of the arts, Reid's work is deliberately more contemplative.
"I deliberately left it vague as to whether the figure is male or female, because I wanted it to represent all artists," she said. "And the fact that the artist's arm kind of flows into the canvas on the easel represents the way artists really become the work they create.
"I knew I wanted to include the river from the very beginning, because I know people from other areas of the country who don't know Tulsa has a river," Reid said.
The open sky of Oklahoma has been a major influence and subject matter for her work, which was why she also incorporated it into her Mayfest image.
"I did a lot of thinking about whether it should be a sunset or a sunrise," Reid said.
"But in the end, I realized that the sunrise was the only way to go, because I wanted the painting to be about hope for what's to come," she said. "There are so many great things going on in Tulsa, and they need to be celebrated."
Original Print Headline: Mayfest artist captures Tulsa's sunrise for poster
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
Tulsa artist Michelle Ferment Reid is shown Wednesday at the unveiling of her poster for the 2011 Tulsa International Mayfest. STEPHEN PINGRY/ Tulsa World