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This page is a listing of upcoming gallery exhibtions and shows at the O'Kane Gallery at the University of Houston - Downtown.

Upcoming Exhibitions Fall 2014

The ‘Left Bank’ on the Bayou: Avant-garde Art and Theater in 1930s Houston

September 4- October 16, 2014
Opening Reception: September 4, 6:00p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

In 1930, Houston was still a town of less than 300,000. After the war, its population exploded into what is now the fourth largest city in the United States. Although more of a frontier town than a cosmopolitan center for arts, 1930s Houston began to attract progressive Texans who believed that avant-garde performing and visual arts had a place in the Bayou City.

The ‘Left Bank’ on the Bayou: Avant-garde Art and Theater in 1930s Houston,” is an exhibition produced by the O’Kane Gallery at the University of Houston-Downtown, intent on recreating the early spark that set the tone for acceptance and appreciation of the arts that is apparent in today’s thriving Houston art scene.

A key figure in Houston’s art history is Margo Jones, a theatre director and innovator known for creating the first professional theater-in-the-round in the United States. As a Houston resident in the 1930s and early 1940s, Jones directed a troupe called the Houston Community Players. The ensemble opened in December 1936 with a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. Jones later earned credits on Broadway and around the country, including praise for a Chicago production in 1944, when she became the first (in collaboration with Eddie Dowling) to stage Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Inspired by Jones’ passion, a group of visual artists sought to bring modern art to Houston. Included in the group were artists Carden Bailey, Gene Charlton, Nione Carlson, and Maudee Carron. Gene Charlton, Forrest Bess and Robert Preusser went on to national and international careers in the visual arts.

In 1938, many in that group joined to exhibit in a new gallery on Branard Street, called Our Little Gallery, in the back building of a residence. As a group of artists aged 17 to 35, they were young people devoted to introducing abstract art in Houston. The exhibition will display visual art from these artists’ collections.

The Seigler Chronicles: Life as a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Designer, 1956-1959

October 23 – December 18, 2014

In the late 1940s, Jim Seigler attended the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. After his schooling was interrupted by service in the Korean War, Seigler returned to complete his education. Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus then hired Seigler, who would later make major contributions to the design of the circus’s annual spectacles as it toured the United States.

A pivotal time for the circus, 1956 was the last year of the “big top”, as the circus moved to indoor arenas. Seigler’s sideshow banner designs and paintings were the last for Ringling. Arena shows required new design concepts, inspiring Seigler to engineer floats and central motifs that could fit within smaller spaces. Seigler worked closely with Tony Award winner and Academy Award nominee Miles White as well as Parisian designer Max Weldy to conceptualize the new circus themes.

The O’Kane Gallery exhibit will feature original design and costume drawings from 1956-1959, as well as period photographs depicting many of the finished products. The exhibit will expand on the process of creating marvels for the circus and tell some of the stories of those who designed and performed during the late 1950s.

UHD in Retrospect: An Exhibition Celebrating the First 40 years of the University of Houston-Downtown

January 22 – February 5, 2015

The University of Houston Downtown began in 1974 at One Main Street. From its beginnings as a junior college dating back to the first decades of the 20th century in the YMCA building, UHD has charted steady growth to its present state of nearly 14,000 students and expansion of the campus that includes separate buildings, which respectively house the College of Business and the College of Public Service.

Situated on the land that is essentially the birthplace of the City of Houston and recognized by the Texas Historical Commission, the One Main Street building has a rich history beginning in 1930 and continuing today. The exhibit at the O’Kane Gallery will feature photographs and artifacts from this history, focusing on the beginning of UHD and its growth to the present.

Annel Livingston Paintings

February 12 – March 17, 2015

Annel Livingston is a native Houstonian who has lived in New Mexico since 1994. Her work has evolved from contemplation on living in urban and then rural environments, to include a more sensory, perceptual works. Livingston uses gouache, a paint similar to an opaque watercolor, to create highly technical works based on grids with remarkable gradations of hue and contrast that result in abstract patterns. The effect is at once mathematical and reassuring in its consistency; and yet, the compositions are otherworldly in the illusion of movement within the paintings.

Livingston writes:
"It is the idea behind the work that dictates the image…based on the observable phenomenon in nature of changing light and color. These works parallel nature but do not directly reflect it. The work is hard edge and I choose the medium of gouache for its’ inherent flatness and its’ intense color."

"My experience of the world (memory, or thought) is not as a whole, but in fragments, which are part revealed, part concealed."

Las Sor Juanas de Tejas: Santa Barraza, Tina Fuentes, Kathy Vargas, and Delilah Montoya

March 26 through April 23, 2015
Exhibit held jointly at two Houston locations:
MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts)
O’Kane Gallery, University of Houston-Downtown

This exhibition, jointly curated and exhibited at MECA and O’Kane Gallery at UHD, highlights four Texas artists: Santa Barraza, Tina Fuentes, Kathy Vargas, and Delilah Montoya. The exhibition is inspired by the life of the 17th century Mexican poet, Sor Juana Inez de al Cruz. Sor Juana’s struggles to obtain education as a woman present early instances of discrimination that would become a part of political change in the 20th century. The exhibition brings together four artists who have embodied and reflected on the life of Sor Juana through their own artistic achievements and professional paths.

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Last updated or reviewed on 8/17/14

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