Meet the team dedicated to making your Oklahoma Contemporary visit unforgettable
Art spaces can be intimidating, but not at Oklahoma Contemporary. Since its founding as City Arts Center in 1989, the organization has prided itself in making contemporary art accessible in a warm and welcoming environment. A key part to executing that concept lies in our growing Visitor Experience staff, whose mission is to make our community members feel at home in their new arts center.
"Even for me, going to a gallery or a museum can be intimidating — you know, with the sort of pretentious attitude you sometimes get," said Retail and Visitor Experience Manager Garrett Colton. "We want it to be the opposite at Oklahoma Contemporary, whether you’re just coming in for a coffee at the café, or whether you’re trying to buy a gift or check out an exhibition. We want our customer-facing staff to make you feel like you’re part of the family."
From the front desk to the galleries and points in between, Oklahoma Contemporary's Visitor Experience team is there to share their knowledge and passion to make your experience unforgettable. "It’s not kids who are just looking to buy some time and have your typical sort of mall-type job," Colton said. "It’s arts enthusiasts, some who have experience in museums and exhibitions around the world. It’s intoxicating to have that crucial team that’s just as excited as you are."
"Like the rest of Oklahoma Contemporary, we try to reflect an 'arts for everyone' philosophy."
For team members like Julia Witcher, who holds a Master of Arts in film preservation and presentation, the job is an opportunity to meet people where they are. "Like the rest of Oklahoma Contemporary, we try to reflect an 'arts for everyone' philosophy," she said. "We never want to talk down to anyone or assume they know something only a connoisseur or expert would know."
Oklahoma Contemporary's philosophy of radical hospitality might challenge some expectations about contemporary art spaces — and according to Visitor Experience associate Araina Leatherock, that's a good thing. "There's kind of this expectation of sterility, or to not have contact with the people in the galleries and it's just a solo experience," she said. "Here it feels more casual and more open. You're able to have a conversation and a dialogue about the artwork."
To give you an idea of what you can expect when you walk through the doors at Oklahoma Contemporary, we talked to a few of these vital team members about their goal to spark creativity and connect the community with free, world-class arts experiences. Meet a few of them below, and be sure to say hi (from a distance) the next time you visit your new arts center in downtown Oklahoma City.
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