By EMILY RAMSEY
ART GALORE: Art lovers examine the Zarrow Center’s latest art exhibit. Brady business owners recently decided to extend the art crawl’s closing time one hour, to 10 p.m., to accommodate the event’s growing attendance.
With the opening of the Hardesty Arts Center (), the Griffin Communications Media Center and a hotel, the Brady District deserves more than a mention in downtown’s current revitalization.
Add to that the soon-to-open Boulder Bridge and the art gallery additions, and it seems that all eyes, and feet, are on the Brady. That proves no more true than on the first Friday of the month when locals descend on the district for the First Friday Art Crawl—an evening when galleries open their doors with fresh art exhibits.
This increased foot traffic has caused Brady business owners to evaluate the event’s time frame. “(We) all have found the same thing,” says Bob Fleischman, owner of Chrysalis Salon and Spa and president of the Brady Arts District Business Association. “People were having a rough time getting to everything because of the number of places that are now a part of the art crawl.”
Therefore, on First Fridays the art crawl will stay open until 10 p.m., as opposed its previous 9 p.m. closing time.
Although the crawl has been around since 2007, the recent entrance of new organizations has put a spotlight on the district. Organizations with big names, like Hardesty and Zarrow, have helped to bring added exposure.
“The Zarrow Center, being a part of Gilcrease, notifies their networks of people about events,” says Fleischman, whose salon maintains art work and participates in the crawl. Fleischman also credits the level of art quality as a reason for the continued foot traffic month after month.
“We’re not going to show something if we wouldn’t hang it in our living room,” Fleischman says. “We also want to help local artists gain exposure and give them a venue to show their work in. Otherwise, how are they going to get known?”
108 Contemporary, a nonprofit community arts organization, is in the process of relocating to the Brady. Formerly known as the Brady Craft Alliance, the organization will be housed in the Mathews Warehouse building along with the Zarrow Center. Philbrook Arts Museum will also soon open a gallery in a portion of the building.
108 Contemporary focuses on supporting contemporary fine craft.
When people think of craft, they often think of traditional craft like basket weaving and rug making, which Oklahoma has a rich history in, says Executive Director Emily Kern. “But artists are starting to expand on that and are doing crazy things, like using pictures or paintings and integrating them into their basket weaving.”
The organization’s 3,000-square-foot facility will hold a gallery and shop. The shop will hold work only from Oklahoma artists. Lectures, tours and workshops will be offered, and Kern plans to regularly showcase new exhibits at the art crawl.
108 Contemporary will hold its grand opening on March 1. Its first show will feature tapestries by Jon Eric Riis.
As a new organization, the move to the Brady could do much to increase exposure, says Kern. “This is an opportunity to be in the mecca of the arts scene. Here we will have a thriving chance to succeed because of the community cooperative effort.”