Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's 'Momentum' moves into reborn Womb complex
Over the years, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s “Momentum” has spread over four Plaza District galleries, sprawled across the second floor of the downtown Goodwill Industries and taken off from the Downtown Airpark.
After shining up the historic Gold Dome last year, the nonprofit arts organization is taking one of its signature events into another legendary local landmark: The Womb art complex on Automobile Alley.
“Every year it’s a little bit different, and this was kind of a perfect opportunity,” OVAC Executive Director Krystle Brewer said. “Anytime we can work with other organizations that are doing cool things, it’s just really fun and makes it more dynamic.”
Made famous by The Flaming Lips, The Womb is being reborn through a partnership with the Grammy-winning art-rockers, Oklahoma City artist collective Factory Obscura, Santa Fe, New Mexico-based art production company Meow Wolf and local investor Steve Mason. Factory Obscura, the group behind the immersive experiences “Shift” and “Beyond,” is building its first permanent installation, “Mix-Tape," inside the iconic building.
One of the hallmarks of “Momentum” is that it switches locations every year, often taking over unfinished or offbeat spaces.
“What a lot of people love about 'Momentum' is that kind of grungy side of it," said Kelsey Karper, who was the associate director of OVAC before co-founding Factory Obscura.
The experimental vibe of The Womb should resonate with “Momentum,” OVAC’s annual two-night showcase for Oklahoma artists ages 30 and younger. The 18th annual edition will be from 8 to 11 p.m. March 22-23 inside the landmark, which will be open regularly to the public for the first time starting March 22.
“It really makes it a whole weekend celebration extravaganza,” Karper said.
Factory Obscura will host the grand opening of Phase 1 of its “Mix-Tape” from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. “Momentum” will keep the celebratory atmosphere going with live music, film, performance art, new media and installations. More than 90 artworks, selected from a pool of more than 300 submitted pieces, will be on view.
Zoe Larkins, assistant curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, is this year’s guest curator, while Samantha Rhodes, a recent graduate of American University’s art history department, is the emerging curator. Each year, the curators select three Spotlight artists who each receive $1,000 and three months of curatorial guidance to create ambitious projects just for “Momentum.” This year’s Spotlight artists — Emily Chase and Anna Thomas, of Tulsa, and Cecilia Otero, of OKC — will talk about their work during free gallery hours March 24.
“We have the emerging curator, someone who is learning to curate exhibitions; we have the emerging artists, which make up the exhibition; and we then we have a lot of people who start their art collections,” Brewer said. “Also, for the art-goer, this is a great entrance point for people that maybe aren’t comfortable going into a museum or gallery. … This is a party, and it’s really cool and fun and weird, and it’s geared toward younger people.”
Partnering with Factory Obscura also exposes aspiring artists to a new type of career model: Members of the collective are paid not only for their work creating immersive attractions but also will be paid for staffing The Womb. “Momentum” alumnus Cassie Stover, who participated in the event between 2008 and 2013, is now working full-time as a Factory Obscura artist.
“So, I come here every day and make art,” she said. “It’s a dream job.”
What: “Momentum” 2019
When: 8 to 11 p.m. March 22-23.
Where: The Womb, 25 NW 9.
Tickets: $10-$15 at www.eventbrite.com.
Free gallery hours and Spotlight talks: 2 to 7 p.m. March 24.
Information: www.MomentumOklahoma.org or www.facebook.com/OKart.