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Sculptor Morgan Robinson’s new solo exhibition explores the duality of calm and chaos

August 17, 2017 - Ben Luschen: Oklahoma Gazette

Sculptor Morgan Robinson’s new solo exhibition explores the duality of calm and chaos

By    |   August 11, 2017 Morgan Robinson works inside his Stillwater art studio on pieces for a new solo exhibition. (Richmond Boswell / provided)

Morgan Robinson works inside his Stillwater art studio on pieces for a new solo exhibition. (Richmond Boswell / provided)

The last year or so in sculptor Morgan Robinson’s life has been at once both leisurely and hectic.

The artist, carpenter and designer is splitting time between Oklahoma and Japan. Most of Morgan’s time is spent at peace, crafting his nature-inspired sculptures and wall ornaments at his own pace in his Stillwater-based studio. He is also part of Oklahoma State University’s art department faculty.

Yet simultaneously, a personally unprecedented list of work- and family-related international travel demands have him feeling pressed for time.

In addition to installing his work in galleries across the United States and overseas, Robinson tries to see his Japan-dwelling wife and daughter whenever he can.

That emotional contrast is the theme in Robinson’s newest solo exhibition at Kasum Contemporary Fine Art. The show opens Aug. 19 at the 16th Street Plaza District gallery, 1706 NW 16th St. The exhibit runs through Sept. 23.

Discovering expression

Robinson was fascinated by natural forms and movement from a young age. Things like eyebrows, clouds and insects, in addition to the shapes of mouths and shadows, captured his imagination.

Still, it did not take long for Robinson to realize these topics had no place in conversation with his friends. He learned to bottle up his interest for the time being.

Robinson eventually earned a baseball scholarship to Ada’s East Central University, where he took his first art class. He took great joy in the chance to creatively express himself.

“There was finally an outlet for this stuff I had bottled up inside me,” he said.

He began to lose interest in baseball as he became more invested in his new hobby making beaded necklaces. He decided to leave Ada and transfer to the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) for the school’s jewelry program.

While at UCO, Robinson’s attention slowly began to shift from jewelry to sculpture. He graduated with an art degree in 2002. Like recent graduates in many other creative fields, he was not sure how to apply his skills toward a career.

Finding purpose

Robinson found the direction he was searching for after meeting one of his father’s business associates, an Australian entrepreneur named Stefan Broinowski. However, it was not what he was expecting.

Broinowski was an eccentric businessman with a diverse set of interests. Robinson was confident in his art and sculptural abilities but knew nothing about how to make his work profitable. After the two became friends, he asked Broinowski if he could become his
apprentice.

The businessman agreed, but under the condition that Robinson first agree to drop everything he was doing and live a year in the Australian Outback. Eventually (and some would say amazingly), Robinson agreed, selling his car and possessions to make money for the trip.

“He wanted me to basically go out and become undistracted and really figure out what I wanted to do and if I wanted to really be his apprentice or if I wanted to do something else,” Robinson said. “He saw it as a prime time in my life to really answer this question and to choose the direction I really wanted to go.”

Robinson lived in the remote South West Queensland region with little to do but reflect on his life and what he wanted from it. Broinowski’s hypothesis all along was that Robinson did not actually want to be his apprentice as much as he wanted clarity.

“He ended up being right, as if he needed any more ego,” Robinson said.

The artist’s time in the Outback left him with a new appreciation for meditation and minimalism. He soon became aware that they were also important aspects of Japanese culture and became intent on visiting the country. He spent two years learning the language and traveled to Tokyo, where he found a job making furniture in a studio of Japanese carpenters.

Robinson gained an understanding and appreciation for traditional Japanese woodworking techniques during his year across the Pacific Ocean — techniques he still incorporates in his work today.

Two worlds

The artist also met his wife during that year in Japan. The country has become an important part of his life and work. He spent the winter months with his family in Japan while also visiting some local galleries. Robinson recently returned from a two-week business and family trip to Tokyo.

Robinson has a lot to keep up with these days, both personally and professionally. The demands, at times, have pushed him to emotional limits.

“It’s been really tricky to try and balance all of that,” he said.

But if there is one thing the artist has learned in his life, it is how calmness and reflection always lead to discovery.

Visit morgan-robinson.com.


Morgan Robinson solo exhibition

Aug. 19-Sept. 23

11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, by appointment Monday-Tuesday

Kasum Contemporary Fine Art

1706 NW 16th St.

kasumcontemporary.com

405-604-6602

Artists of Note: Theresa Paden

May 15, 2017 - Southwest Art Magazine

When she was 18 months old, Theresa Paden’s mother put her in a highchair and gave her some watercolor paints; all she said was, “Don’t drink the water.” Later, Paden attended festivals with her artist parents and began creating and selling small oil paintings. After attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, she pursued a career in graphic design, which eventually led her to work with the National Football League.

But when she married and had children, she became a stay-at-home mom and began painting full time in 2010. An animal lover, the artist drew extensive inspiration from the wildlife of the West, including horses, bison, longhorns, wolves, and bears. “I used to paint very realistically, but I didn’t want to be a human camera,” Paden says. “Anyone can just go out and take a photograph. I’m trying to do something that can’t be done with a camera by bringing out a lot of feeling and emotion.”

Spotlight on Diane Salamon

May 5, 2017 - Southwest Watercolor Society

Interesting quotes and writings influence Diane’s work. Her two favorites are “I hate flowers. I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.”- Georgia O’Keefe, and “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” - Picasso. Both of these quotes remind her to be true to her creative thought and follow her own path. She refuses to paint anything she hates and understands that good sense is often counter to an interesting painting.

 

 Diane has been curated into numerous national exhibits. She is proud to be a signature member of SWS and Oklahoma Watercolor Society. Diane was a Centennial Artist for the State of Oklahoma and exhibited 26 paintings at the State Capitol. One of her works is included in the Official State Collection of Oklahoma. She is included in the Clara database in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is a member of the National Association of Women Artists in New York City. In 1997 Diane had a featured article about her life and work in “Watercolor” magazine.

 

Through the years Diane wandered away from transparent watercolor and now prefers acrylic and paints mostly on canvas. She loves the diversity of acrylic and the necessity to think quickly while painting. She is currently working on several oversize paintings and is looking forward to exhibiting in New York this fall in the National Association of Women Artists Members Exhibit.

 

In addition to painting and exhibiting, Diane is an arts advocate and serves as treasurer on the board of Living Arts of Tulsa and regularly contributes her talent and expertise to charitable causes. She has also been a panel speaker for Oklahoma Visual Artists Coalition and was a co- owner of Color Connection Gallery for 12 years. When Diane is not spending time with her husband, daughters or two grandchildren; she enjoys playing the piano, reading, traveling, walking and yoga.

 

Diane is represented by Kasum Contemporary in Oklahoma City, Eva Reynolds Fine Art in Kansas City and Pierson Gallery in Tulsa.

Art Talk – Kjelshus Collins

April 11, 2017 - Art Whore

Art Talk – Kjelshus Collins aka ‘Killajayzeus’ aka ‘Howaitogoburin’

10 April 2017

Kjelshus Collins aka ‘Killajayzeus’ aka ‘Howaitogoburin’ is an American multidisciplinary artist who came to our attention thanks to his amazingly unique sculpts. From there we quickly found Kjelshus’ other work in the mediums of print, painting, ceramics and sketching. All imbued with Kjelshus’ unique eye, love of the absurd, pop culture, beautiful lines and dada-esque craftsmanship.

(Picture below of Kjelshus’ just released soft vinyl figure – the Paleonaut)

With Kjelshus having recently released his debut soft vinyl, and much more always in the works, now is a great time to get to know the man and his art, by reading the Art Talk interview below…

 

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

Kjelshus Collins 2/17/1982

City, State n Country you currently call home?

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

City, State n Country you’re from?

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

(Pictures below of some art by Kjelshus)

Describe a memory from some stages of yr life basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING man!

Sure. I can think of a few…. One afternoon a few years ago, I was working with a more established artist and he was talking about how he was going to fund some toy production back in the day, some of his own designs from when he was a child. I started thinking about portraits I made in college, and then I started thinking of some pink resin bootleg toys I saw in a local record store in 2005 by this interesting guy from NYC. So, after some thinking and encouragement, I picked up where I left off in college with making art toys, along with cutting prints.  I mention this because it was a combination of pivotal moments that came together in this random conversation with this artist—and that changed things for me.

* age 5 – beginnings:

My mother is a painter and my dad, brother Ari, and I traveled with her to art festivals and galleries in major U.S. cities to sell art. Sometimes my parents would slip a piece of art that my brother or I made into their booth.  I sold my first piece of art for $100 when I was five, to a nice lady at the Lakefront Festival of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My folks made it a point to take us to as many museums, art galleries, and zoos as possible whilst on the road. I saw the USA many times over.

(Picture below of Kjelshus as a kid)

* age 10 – continuations:

1992. Toy collecting has always been very popular with me, but I started to really enjoy action figures when I was in elementary school. My brother and I would be crammed into motels on the road and we spent our time playing—instead of terrorizing the other artists. We had many of the early Kenner Star Wars figures, so I liked the 3.75” scale and that meant GI Joe and similar series of toys. I’d packed up all of my toy collection when I went to college.  Years later it was like opening a time capsule, I had literal tears of joy at seeing my old friends.

(Picture below of Kjelshus in his teens)

* age 20 – young adult:

2002 University life – I didn’t have the drive to go to college out of state — I’d traveled too much as kid. In my mind, logistically, Oklahoma was a great place to set up a base of operations due to many major interstates crossing through OKC. I went to Oklahoma State University, an intense agriculture and engineering school.  But I studied art.  And I am very glad I did study art at this farm school.  Despite how that seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron, this school had big MONEY.  And the hidden gem was the art facilities out on the edge of town; foundry, forges, every type of kiln imaginable, a woodshop, metal shop, beautiful printing presses, ANYFUCKINGTHING could be made here. It was here that I learned the alchemy that is ceramics, how to make moulds,pour bronze, and traditional printmaking.  I also vigorously studied art history and aesthetics. OSU is right in the middle of farmland, so our weekly routine was go to class, study, drink, and hit up punk rock shows in the two flanking cities. Or get loaded and watch cartoons.  In that sense it was a typical American college town. Most of my friends were creatives and we had our own drunken fun. Art wise I loved printmaking and comic books, but I really wanted to sculpt.  Even back then I wanted to make toys. One of my final pieces for sculpting was an action figure of myself.  I think I took an old Wizard Magazine to my professor and showed him a tutorial on customizing action figures.  He was pretty wild so he was with it.  I customized and recast (most) of a Vince McMahon figure in real shitty hobby resin as myself in 2005. The idea for the project was to make a run of these with my C.V. and portfolio on the back to present to whomever.  I never made the edition, in retrospect, I probably should have.

* age 30 – fully formed:

At thirty I had been out of college for about 5-6 years, I was making money teaching, doing workshops, demonstrations and selling lots of prints.  I gained representation in a very nice gallery and had moved in with a nice artist lady. We cloned each other twice. Somewhere around this time I got all of my old toys out of storage and decorating my studio with my vintage toys and more recent designer/art toys. Opening those boxes brought back a flood of memories of customizing with my brother and attempting to make crude rudimentary moulds to recast GI Joes in our bedroom. …And this is when I had the conversation with that artist I mentioned earlier. Now I’m almost 35. Art wise I am working on printed editions, applying for festivals, completing commission work, writing for grants, making toys, and hustling. Right now I have a teaching studio at a chartered prep school, a studio at home, and an office in an industrial area I share with two other artists. It’s called The Strange Exchange Trading Post.  We stash our completed works there, meet clients, and have parties.  It works out well; our studios are fucked up.  Ink everywhere, beer bottles, half-finished shit, tools stacked arbitrarily, it’s really not the best place to meet a client.

(A recent picture of Kjelshus below)

Personal motto?

Work first, then play.

Favorite band(s)?

I enjoy a plethora of different music-punk: CRASS, Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, Electric Wizard, Sleep, NIN, Slayer, Vivaldi…

Favorite TV show(s)?

Off the top of my head – Lost, Fringe, Walking Dead, Clone Wars, It’s Always Sunny, The Simpsons, Game of Thrones…

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

OKC Thunder

Favorite movie(s)?

Off the top of my head –  Alien, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian (1982), Blade Runner, Wizards…

Favorite books and comics?

I have too many books, off the top of my head – Dune, Akira, Krazy Kat, A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord of the Rings, art history tomes…

Art Questions

Why the names ‘Killajayzeus’ and ‘Howaitogoburin’ for your online art presence?

Killajayzeus kind of sounds like my real name, and maybe Wu-Tang? Howaitogoburin is an art history joke I came up with as a pseudonym in college for side projects. I studied Asian art history, especially East-West mutual influences. My professor told us a story that when the Europeans landed in Japan, the Japanese thought they were a type of white goblin due to their pale skin, colored hair, big noses, odd clothing, and smell. I thought that shit was hilarious. Howaitogoburin is kind of Wasei-eigo for white goblin. So I use this for my toy stuff, really just for organization purposes and its funny. To me.

Favorite other artist(s)?

There are so many great artists around the globe. The world has become so populated and small at the same time. It seems every community has an enclave of working artists and I think that is just great. Anyway, right now I really enjoy The Chicago Imagists, Takashi Murakami, David Healey, Kris Kuksi, Gregg Griffin, The Super Sucklord, Skinner, Richard Notkin, Nick Gazin, Basil Wolverton, Hieronymus Bosch, Frank Kozik and so on.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

The lack of interest or understanding many people have in art all together. Busting ass to get a project done that you feel is an amazing accomplishment, and then no one gives a shit is pretty annoying. It doesn’t ever keep me from creating, but it is fairly lame.

(Pictures below of some prints by Kjelshus)

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

The people who drop cash on your work are doing it because they love what you made. I have a constant flow of new art and that is accomplished by these lovely people. The return business is great and I love meeting new people who are excited about what they have. I often am sent pictures of my prints in frames or my toys on shelves and that’s fun. In my head,I think the stuff disappears into a flat file, but realistically most people do not have those.

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

I know the 3 pillars of visual aesthetics are art, craft, and design. All three are just as important as the next, though they may serve different purposes at the time. Sometimes they overlap into something new. People have been making art close to 40,000 years, so yes there is definitely some rehashed crap in everyone’s work. That is one reason why I study so much of it. You don’t want to recreate someone else’s idea though you will inevitably be influenced by some of it, and that is OK, it’s just culture, go with it. Techniques on the other hand are obviously unavoidable. Therefore, when you experiment with different techniques to create a piece of art you have to accept that someone probably experimented the same way. For example, I read that Morgan Phillips  aka ‘The Sucklord’ once tried to cast a Greedo toy out of a soap bar and melted crayon. Years later in my childhood bedroom, I tried to make a GI Joe out of Play-Doh and candle wax. Completely different people, place, and time, but similar experiment.

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?

I remember making a painting with my mom and her friends on my first birthday. I believe that is my earliest memory. Art is something that I was always around. I grew up in it. I understand it and why some people obsess over it. I have always drawn or sculpted something.

(Pictures below of the Kouros ceramic figure from Kjelshus)

What did you draw and make as a pre-teen child?

I drew Star Wars and comic book characters; we also made some rudimentary dioramas for “action playsets”. We once built a mud daub fort for our Britain’s miniatures (54mm), left town for Florida for a month to do art shows, came back, and it was still standing. Win for the little guys.

What did you draw and make as a teen?

Assemblage sculptures and abstract paintings because my mother was probably the one who taught me to paint.

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

Again, in Milwaukee, I was at the Lakefront Art Festival with my family, maybe 5th grade and there was a Jim Nutt exhibit at the museum. This was probably the first time I had seen an exhibition of this kind of art. I had no idea who the Chicago Imagists were; my mother exposed us to the Old Masters mostly. I remember being appalled and intrigued at the same time.  This was also right around the time MTV aired Liquid Television late at night, which I would watch in hotel rooms whilst on the road.  It was a time of glorious visual bombardment.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

I had thought about pursuing science in college, anthropology/archaeology to be exact. I did study these things, I went to Egypt and Jordan for a dig, but I just could not get away from art. I loved being in studio and I loved researching art history which works with archaeology quite well. I just made it a mission to work in the arts in some capacity. So far so good.

(Pictures below of the Planet Asia Freighter Sushi resin from Kjelshus)

Describe the process of producing your art…

* Your sketches and illustrations?

My sketchbook is a combination of crude doodles and esoteric scribblings.  This all eventually solidifies into a cohesive idea, which I sit on for a minute while I figure out how to tackle the process. Quite a bit of work is done in my head and little scraps of paper I find in my pockets. Sometimes I work out things in my sleep.

* Your paintings?

If I do a painting, I do a rough contour and really just let it evolve as I go. I am partially colorblind so I always start out with primary colors and build up from there. When they start mixing is when I cannot tell which is which. I don’t create paintings that often. I do enjoy watercolor though, and recently illustrated a children’s book.

* Your prints – such as wood and lino-cuts?

I prefer to use battleship grey linoleum when cutting a block. I think wood is great but sometimes I don’t want to see the woodgrain in my image. What I really like about the process of block printing is the cuts themselves. In this regard the German Expressionist printmakers influence me. I want the textures that my gouges make to speak for themselves. Most of my subject matter is humorous with real subtle social commentary, almost non-existent, but it is in there straddling the fence between fine art and lowbrow.   I also utilize other methods of printing such as intaglio, lithography, serigraphy, and recently I learned about antiquated photographic methods to produce an image on different substrates.

Toy Questions

Describe the process of producing your resin toys? – from original sculpt, molding, production, to finally holding that sweet sweet finished product in your hands… (dot point all o.k.)

I think kit bashing and recasting is great fun, I have done a few of those, but I would rather sculpt my own design and make an edition of that. There are many artisans who do great “bootleg” toys, I will for the most part, leave that to them…
  • I begin by doing a few sketches; maybe look at some reference materials then I begin to sculpt out of polymer clays. Polymer clay is great due to the rapid firing time and strength.
  • After the models are sculpted, smoothed, and fired, the tedious parts begins:
  • I add sprues and venting then begin to build the mold – I have been using leftover foam core and a glue gun, pretty standard.
  • Dump silicone into the mold, put mold into pressure tank, let cure, demold.
  • Pour the resin, place mold back in the tank, let cure, demold, clean the figure up, and repeat about twenty five times.
  • I like the initial sculpting and painting steps the best. It is Zen, I can lose myself in the process and block out everything.
  • Finally, in the end, I put the toys in whatever package I come up with and feel good.
Another thing done and accomplished.

(Pictures below of some resin art toys by Kjelshus)

Digital Vs Hand sculpting – what wins and why?

It’s all up to the collector I think. Personally, I like hand building, but I wouldn’t be opposed to designing something digitally. I think some people really like the smooth geometric look of some toys while others enjoy the organic textures of hand sculpted toys.  I love the textures on the sofubi pieces coming out of Japan, also when I think of the toys that I liked as a kid I know they were all designed by hand. I don’t know if there is a clear winner here.  I’ll probably keep doing things by hand as long as I can.

(Pictures below of a large sculptural work by Kjelshus)

Are art-toys for the kids?

This really depends on the kid. My folks actually gave us handmade toys from artists they knew and we played with them carefully and shelved them. They still exist. Some kids would have set all that on fire.  I never did that kind of shit with my toys.  Sure I shot the fuck out of Green Army Men with my Red Rider, but I never subjected Cobra Commander to immolation or anything. Not my thing, I always saw my toys as objet d’art, hence their continued existence in my studio.

Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?

I would say it is just an evolution of contemporary aesthetics. I don’t see folk stopping their worship at the Altar of the Abstract Sublime, but that kind of work is not for everyone.  Boutique toys on the other hand allow the younger modern collector to find a piece that they can relate to and afford.  These things are essentially small sculptures even if they are in the form of what would be considered a toy. Whatever you want to call it, Pop Art, 21st century craft, toy making, whatever, it is still an objet d’art that I can collect for a reasonable price and enjoy in my home or office.

Thoughts on the rise of resin as an artistic medium?

Resin is neat. It is cheap, quick, and consistent.  I think it is great that is has been taken out of the garage and into the studio. A material that was once mostly used by hobbyists to being sold in galleries.  Can’t beat that.  And if you are in the art of multiples business, it will always be cheaper than bronze.

(Picture below of some carded resin art toys by Kjelshus)

What role did toys play in your childhood?

Toys are essentially our first friends and teachers.  My toys took us on adventures through time and space.  A lot of times they were someone to talk to when we were little.  I believe this is in part why I still have most of them.  Shitty thing to throw your friends away.

Top 3 toys you own and why? – Please include pics!

(*) Tomy Omnibot I love the design of this on top of my affection for vintage personal robots. I remember the commercials for this toy, I always wanted it but it was crazy expensive back in the day. I scored a complete ‘bot at a thrift store a few years ago for fifty bucks.

(Picture below of Kjelshus’ ‘Tomy’ Omnibot toy – released in the mid 1980’s)

(*) Vintage Kenner Rancor This was a guy that got played with till he fell apart. At some point, some years after it had been discontinued in the dark ages, my parents and I literally scoured the country side going to antique shops and thrift stores (which are a big thing in Oklahoma) to find another Rancor. We did and I still have this one. Complete.

(Picture below of Kjelshus’ ‘Kenner’ Rancor toy – released in 1983)

(*) Skinner x Healeymade Mother v.1 I recently got one of these for Christmas. I really enjoy both of these fellows. I remember when I first saw this piece and how it made me excited. Just one of those things I am glad exists. Skinner’s use of color, line, humor, and the grotesque gets to me. Healey is a great craftsman and I love the esotericism of his toys. I once visited his studio in NYC. He is also very enjoyable person to talk to.

(Picture below of Kjelshus’ ‘Skinner‘ X ‘Healeymade‘ Mother art toy – released in 2013)

Odds n Ends

Which 1990’s era cartoon, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?

I always liked the Marshmallow Man when I was a kid. I still think it’s a fun design. Like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Bibendum mashed together. Marshmallow​ Girl as a voluptuous sex object has a good ring to it.

(Picture below of Kjelshus’ Marshmallow Man from ‘Ghostbusters’ tribute female-sex-object)

Who would win in a fight and why: Salvador Dali Vs. Pablo Picasso?

I think Sal would eat Pabs; according to some books I have read about Dali, he was somewhat voreish. I need to find that book…

(Picture below of the battle in all it’s violent beauty!)

Please describe your experiences growing up in America?

America is extremely diverse and I got to experience a variety of different cultures growing up. As I stated, I grew up driving around the United States with my family and got to hang out with a bunch of artists and collectors.Not that everything was perfect, there have always been some parts of America that you don’t want to break down in at night. My old man was a Marine and usually wilder than most we encountered. I vaguely remember being in a traffic jam in Miami and some dude walking by reached into the car to grab my mom’s purse, I think my dad was going to rip his arm off through the window. Shit like that is bound to happen when you are hitting so many cities at once. For the most part we encountered great folk and ate the local foods, went to fun parties, saw the sites, etc. I believe the traveling made me more understanding of people.

Who was your 1st crush and why?

I’ll go with a celebrity. I think maybe Ariana Richards that played the Lex in Jurassic Park. I was 10 or 11 when that movie came out. I don’t know why, but I thought she was cute. She was in Tremors too, that’s a pretty fun movie.

(Photo below of Kjelshus’ first crush, Ariana Richards.)

Does sex change everything?

Only if you let it.

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

This is just a dream I remember: I often visit a city.  There are different districts and homes I walk to. It is a grand metropolis, sometimes it is scary and sometimes it is glorious. I was sitting in a solarium that was attached to a Victorian home; I was playing cards with some people I didn’t know. It was night. And zombie like creatures were banging on the windows. The other card players just sat there and continued the game. I was bugging out. But they reassured me nothing could happen and offered me wine. In their district, this happened sometimes and they were used to it. Some folk came down the stairs, were laughing about something, and had some wine. The game continued with these zombie things growling and licking the windows of the solarium…

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I suppose my art would be nice, but maybe some of the children I have taught will remember me, or some of the other artists I have helped with their endeavors. Time will tell.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

If it grows from the ground and raw like coffee totally a gateway to the universe. All the other shit is a wasteful brain damaging money suck pit.

Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

Temporarily divided by political nonsense. I am an optimist so I see things tapering off eventually. Most people want to work, feed their families, have a home, and find time to relax. The political parties that cannot find a middle ground for the better good will devour each other and people will grow tired of the chaos. Things change with time and patience. Throw in some diligence and positive attitude and everything will be OK.

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

Sure thing! I just need to touch base with those people probably.

Any major projects you want to hype?

Right now, I have been commissioned to cut a linoleum plate to print an insert for an experimental record by KHG Interserve, an underground musician/toymaker/artist from the U.S. I am also having a vinyl toy/figure made through 3 Coconut Monkey. I call it the Paleonaut. Think Atlantis, ancient astronauts, and fossils.  The packaging is going to be designed by my good friend and artist Sean Vali.

(Pictures below of some process sketches, header and the finished product for Kjelshus’ just released Paleonaut soft vinyl figure)

Kasum Contemporary Fine Art Brings Mix of Modern Art to Downtown Yukon

October 10, 2016 - Oklahoma Homes Pamela Sosnowski

When one thinks of contemporary fine art, the city of Yukon probably doesn't come to mind. Yet the downtown area's Plaza District is home to one of the state's premier galleries featuring the work of both upcoming and established modern artists, Kasum Contemporary Fine Art.

 

"One of the beautiful things about this gallery is that we show such a diversity of style," says Tony Morton, the gallery's director and CEO. "No one exhibit is greater than any other, simply different. We have held exhibitions which focused on everything from functional contemporary furnishings to new media video projection-based projects and expressionism to dark art."

Texas artists in Oklahoma City exhibit look at contemporary West

June 19, 2016 - BY JOHN BRANDENBURG For The Oklahoman

Texas artists in Oklahoma City exhibit look at contemporary West

BY JOHN BRANDENBURG  For The Oklahoman Published: June 19, 2016 18shares

"The Arrival" by Laurie Justus Pace. [Photo provided]

Two Canyon, Texas, artists are exploring the contemporary West in an Oklahoma City show.

Equine oils by Laurie Pace and oil landscapes by Mary Bechtol are at Kasum Contemporary Fine Art.

Wild horses are made out of broad, multicolored brush strokes, and palette knife slashes, in Pace's animated oils.

Horses seem to materialize from the “Blue Mist” in one Pace oil, and line up across the picture plane in “The Gathering.”

By contrast, black and white predominates in Pace's “Midnight Gathering” and “Evening Shadows When Stars Appear.”

Pace is an art teacher as well as artist who founded “Visual Language Magazine” and co-founded four working groups of artists.

Bechtol is a registered nurse and artist who has raised three daughters with her husband, who is a veterinarian and wildlife photographer.

Bechtol brings a subtle, nuanced touch to her smaller oils of a “Panhandle Dust Storm” and the line of trees in a “Purple Landscape.”

More panoramic, but relying almost too much on dark marks and outlines, are Bechtol's larger paintings, such as an oil of “Sun Over (a) Field.”

Two more large format oils by Bechtol depict a “Plowed Field With Blue Poplars” and the “Big Conejos” river.

‘Nearer companions’ star in show

March 17, 2016 - John Brandenburg, for The Oklahoman

‘Nearer companions’ star in show

"On Edge" by Stacey D. Miller [Photo provided]

NORMAN — Simple elements of nature lead to visually delightful results in Stacey D. Miller's monoprints at The Depot Gallery.

The Oklahoma City artist said “butterflies and tree frogs were nearer companions than video games” in her childhood.

She said the root of her creativity lies in the “observations and experiences” of nature that “subconsciously drive my work.”

A hummingbird flies “Up, Up, & Away!” past white balls and a yellow-green leaf, backlit by the red-orange sun, in one monoprint.

A winged insect or bee, taking nourishment from a flower, and a butterfly, are the “Ladies in Red,” in another mixed media monoprint.

Rich in color, too, is a print in which a bird flies away from us with a dragonfly, “Into the Red Horizon.”

A skull in the lower right-hand corner gives a more serious dimension to Miller's “Life Cycle,” nicely balancing a stalk of grain and a butterfly.

Dark green vegetation is nearly absorbed into the flat black background of a print in which a skull seems to look up at a moth and leafy foliage.

Winged insects fly above the ghostly husk of two flowers or weeds, while cupped hands hold soil, seeds and a plant, in her “Cultivate Anew.”

More gently humorous and playful is Miller's handling of frogs attached to the fingers of a hand in a “Tropical Paradise.”

The same may be said of prints of a frog “Hidden” by a leaf, one “Hanging By a Limb” and another watching insects while “Waiting on the Next Snack.”

A graduate of East Central University in Ada, Miller was press director at Artspace at Untitled before opening Kasum gallery in Oklahoma City with her husband in 2014.

A fine mix of detailed drawing with strong color and composition, the 14 prints in her show at the Norman train station are highly recommended.

— John Brandenburg, for The Oklahoman

Expressive mixed-media show blossoms at Kasum

March 6, 2016 - John Brandenburg For The Oklahoman

Expressive mixed-media show blossoms at Kasum

Brooke Rowlands with her mixed-media composition "Solanacea (Bladder Cherry-Chinese Lantern)." [photo provided] 

Abstract, expressive, almost haphazard backgrounds interact well with delicate ink drawings in an exhibit by Brooke
Rowlands.

The Oklahoma City artist is showing seven works from her “New Blooms” series at Kasum Contemporary Fine Art gallery, 1706 NW 16.

An 11-year Oklahoma resident, the New Jersey native cites influence by Franz Kline, illustrator Clare Leighton and her grandmother.

“Bladder Cherry-Chinese Lantern” blossoms on bent stalks supply grace notes to passages of orange, pink and gray-green in one vibrant acrylic.

Golden spots suggest stars in a windy, cloudy night sky, over a branch of white flowers that seems to lean into a horizontal acrylic canvas.

 A “New Guinea Trumpet Creeper” hangs down off a branch, inserting itself from one side of another well-handled, but vertical canvas.

In a second vertically oriented work, a “Bromeliad-Urn Plant” thrusts up from the bottom, into a coppery welter of drips, dots and splatters.

Rowlands begins with “emotion and the intention of creating alla prima,” later layering in detailed black-and-white
floral drawings, according to a release.

The mixed media acrylics in her small “New Blooms” show are recommended viewing during its run through March 27.

— John Brandenburg,
for The Oklahoman

Tony Morton: Being Allies in Art Breaking down barriers between artists and patrons

March 2, 2016 - BRETT DICKERSON for 405 Magazine

Tony Morton: Being Allies in Art

Breaking down barriers between artists and patrons

BY BRETT DICKERSON
PHOTOS BY CHARLIE NEUENSCHWANDER

  



  Tony Morton specializes in relationships of a unique sort. The art dealer and owner of Kasum Contemporary Fine Art in the Plaza District is at the hub of a special network he has created that includes a broad spectrum of artists and patrons.

The hard part is helping all parties find what is most deeply satisfying and intriguing to them, whether they are creator or consumer. And if that happens, the business side of things will work.
    
Both artists and art patrons need an experienced ear, someone who easily interacts with both perspectives. And that means careful listening, which produces a deep understanding of both parties in an art sale.

Patron Support Patrons often are intimidated with the process of buying art. That’s where Morton comes in.
    
“With the people who come in here, the hardest thing to do is break down the barrier,” he says about those who think that a gallery is the same as a museum. In this setting, people are expected to interact, talk about their preferences and ask him questions.
    
He says “education is the hardest part” of what he does with prospective purchasers. It is a necessary process of carefully listening to the patron, understanding what appeals to them and then helping them learn ways to talk about what they like in art.
    
Morton wants his patrons to think of their relationship not as gallery/client, but as “allies.”

Artist Support Morton is not an artist; his background is in marketing. But his wife, printmaker and mixed media artist Stacey D. Miller, keeps him in touch with the artistic process. Their long-term relationship has helped in his understanding of what types of support artists need in order to pursue a career.
    
“Where most gallerists have purely a market experience, I’ve also had the opportunity to stand behind, be a patron for, struggle through the experience of actually being an artist. So it’s provided me with quite a bit of insight,” Morton says.
    
He understands the frustrations and needs that artists have.
    
Currently, Kasum Gallery is working with 54 artists and has a list of about 150 regular patrons who buy art that is larger than 30-by-30 inches, with another 500 occasionally buying smaller pieces.
    
A key element of Morton’s work is helping artists to understand what elements or aspects of their particular art are the most appealing to his patrons. And that means helping artists to understand criticism that may be upsetting. After all, art comes from deep within, so criticism can seem deeply personal. But it’s not. It’s commentary on how someone else perceives the work and has little to do with the artist as a person.
    
“I think that a lot of times when an artist is upset initially, that’s the deal,” Morton says about helping artists to keep criticism in perspective. “They are staying in their own perspective.”
    
Expanding the understanding of perspectives gives Morton the capacity to help patrons acquire art that is meaningful, and to help artists make a living and see their work have an impact on the lives of others. And when that happens, art adds value to people’s lives.

Hardship, life changes lead Norman artist to full-time career

February 18, 2016 - Tami Althoff For The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Sparks fly against the garage wall at Brett McDanel's home as he welds a heap of metal into the feet of what will become his next work of art.

“It always starts with the feet,” he said. “I get an idea of what it's doing, the emotion, and it just goes from there. They really build themselves.”

McDanel's workshop is the birthplace of humanlike sculptures made from used objects, some carefully cultivated from old sheds and salvage yards, others left on his doorstep.

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