Not For Sale: Graffiti Culture in Oklahoma, a group art show, features 10 artists who have been an integral part of the Oklahoma graffiti scene. Artists painted their pieces directly on the walls of the gallery, transforming Oklahoma Contemporary into an amazing display of styles. These artists are part of a culture that promotes creative expression to individuals who have not always had access to the art world.
The artwork in this exhibition finds its roots in the graffiti movement that emerged in the early 1970s in Philadelphia. Graffiti art is mostly based on text, in particular, the writing of an assumed name that serves to promote the artist. Graffiti has flourished worldwide in large part because it operates outside of the art world’s elite institutions — it therefore is an art form open to anyone. The exhibition title, Not For Sale, makes reference to the fact that graffiti is primarily made for fame and not for money and can be seen by everyone, not just those with access to museums and galleries.
"Graffiti is often referred to as a form of rebellion, but I want to change that perception with this exhibition," said Angel Little, guest curator for Not For Sale. "This is a chance for people who aren't familiar with graffiti to see it in all forms. It's a chance for people to understand that graffiti has changed and saved lives. Artists do it to connect with and improve their communities. The artists in this show - from Oklahoma City and Tulsa - are the driving force behind the change and it's inspiring to see them come together in a gallery environment and with this kind of influence to create something positive."
While there is no doubt that graffiti’s often illegal placement on subways, trains and walls has added to its appeal as a form of rebellion, the artists in Not for Sale have used their skills in many legitimate fields, from mural commissions to graphic design to fine art that sells in galleries. Guest curators Chris SKER and Angel Little have secured the talents of skilled and experienced graffiti artists with an Oklahoma connection. All of the artists are Oklahoma-born, with the majority currently living and working in the state.
Featured artists include: Chris SKER, JASPYR, CODAK Smith, SADAT, David HEK, SEAPO, GERM, ENTAKE, MANIK and RHAK.
"This is the place where my life's journey began," said muralist CODAK Smith. "As someone who was born in Oklahoma and is fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout the United States and overseas to showcase my art, it is a great honor to bring my work back home and contribute to the growing mural arts scene in Oklahoma."
Oklahoma Contemporary has planned a series of programs for youth and adults that look at graffiti’s place as one of the “four elements of hip hop” — including emceeing, breakdancing and DJing. Workshops and performances will allow everyone to celebrate November as Hip Hop Month in Oklahoma City, as designated by Mayor Mick Cornett in 2016.
Not For Sale: Soul of an Underground
6 p.m. Oct. 19 | FREE
In partnership with the Ralph Ellison Foundation, Oklahoma Contemporary presents an evening of multimedia performance inspired by the Not For Sale exhibition. Understanding graffiti more broadly within the development of hip hop culture, the performance will feature a live DJ as well as emcees, dancers and slam poets to give voice to the artworks’ relevance to urban history, outsider culture and the social conscience of the hip hop movement. Learn more about the event here.
Not For Sale: A ONESoul Charity Event Hip Hop Jam
Noon to 10 p.m. Nov. 4
We are kicking off Hip Hop Month with an all-day celebration at Oklahoma Contemporary, where you can enjoy the graffiti art of Not For Sale. This event will feature dance battles and open floor dancing, live graffiti competitions, musical performances, food trucks, indoor art projects and more. From noon to 7 p.m., the focus is on families, with workshops, kid showcases and performances. After 7 p.m., visitors over 21 can enjoy adult beverages as the mood changes to a more adult environment.
Street Art in OKC: What's Next?
6 p.m. Nov. 28 | FREE
Graffiti and other street art can beautify and energize a city, as well as provide a creative outlet to an expanded group of artists. In a number of cities, artists have successfully partnered with administration to improve neighborhoods and activate communities. How can we make this happen here? Kris Kanaly of the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate will talk about their path to organizing the Plaza Walls project, a successful example in OKC. Representatives from the Arts Commission will discuss the process for ensuring that street art is legal and can remain on the walls for an extended period and how they are working to make that process easier. The program aims to be a dialog between artists and the city administration so that we can work together toward a goal of increasing art in Oklahoma. Organized in conjunction with the Oklahoma Public Art Network and the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.
Not For Sale classes:
Hip Hop Majorette | Tuesdays, Nov. 7-28
Four-Week Class | $75 | Ages 10+
Basic Graffiti | Saturday, Oct. 28 OR Saturday, Nov. 18
One-Day Class | $15 | Ages 13+
Advanced Graffiti | Saturday, Oct. 28 OR Saturday, Nov. 18
One-Day Class | $30 | Ages 13+
Independent Study (Graffiti) | Saturday, Oct. 28 OR Saturday, Nov. 18
One-Day Class | $15 | Ages 13+