108 Contemporary to feature artwork in fibers, paper, ceramics and more
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2013
3/13/13 at 2:45 PM
Related Story: Tapestry master exhibits work in 108 Contemporary
Myra Kaiser isn't worried that some may think the name of the latest gallery to open in the Brady Arts District is a little obscure.
The gallery is 108 Contemporary, which will open Friday. It is the first portion of the Mathews Warehouse renovation, which will ultimately house the Woody Guthrie Archives, to be completed.
Up until late last year, 108 Contemporary was known as the Brady Craft Alliance, a group created to promote fine art created from craft materials, such as ceramic, paper, fiber, metal and wood.
"We felt that the original name was too traditional for such an energized place as the Brady Arts District," said Kaiser, who serves as chairman of the group's executive board. "Also, having the word 'craft' in the name could give the idea that this was more of a hobbyist organization. Those groups are wonderful, but that's not our focus.
"What we do is contemporary art that has its basis in traditional craft," she said.
The gallery will have as its inaugural exhibit a show of work by the internationally known tapestry artist Jon Eric Riis.
Kaiser's interest in craft-based art - fiber arts in particular - began when she was taking classes at the California College of Arts.
"At that time, California was an epicenter of this, with artists like Ed Rossbach and Peter Voulkos doing incredible work in fiber and ceramics," she said. "I kept discovering all this amazing work, and I wanted to know where I could buy it. But no one was representing these artists.
"So I never finished my degree and jumped right into becoming an art dealer," Kaiser said.
In addition to exhibitions, 108 Contemporary also plans to expand its educational programs, bringing in local students to have some hands-on experience in whatever art form or media is being featured.
"The key thing," Kaiser said, "is that each student leaves here with something he or she has made."
The space that 108 Contemporary occupies in what was once the Mathews Warehouse used to be that facility's loading dock.
And that, Kaiser said, has worked to the group's advantage.
"We've got this great frontage that looks out on the Guthrie Green, and these lovely windows to draw people in," she said.
Executive director Emily Kern added, "People have been walking by and trying to peer in the window. And I've seen a lot of cars slow down and stop in front of the gallery, to get a good look at the image (of Riis' tapestry "Icarus") in the window. I think people are getting excited about this place."
'TAPESTRIES OF JON ERIC RIIS'
When: Friday through April 21. Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Artist talk 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: 108 Contemporary, 108 E. Brady St.
Original Print Headline: Artistic Thread
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
Myra Block Kaiser poses for a portrait in front of work by Jon Eric Riis at 108 Contemporary. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
The exhibit "Tapestries of Jon Eric Riis" begins Friday at 108 Contemporary. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World