La casa opening includes 21+ celebration and community festival
Open House weekend is rapidly approaching, and you’re invited. In celebration of the debut of La casa que nos inventamos: Contemporary Art From Guadalajara, Oklahoma Contemporary is opening its doors and ushering you in for a variety of arts experiences. From performances and artist talks to food trucks and a car show, the two-day, weekend celebration is stacked with a lineup of festivities, acting as both an opening for this exciting exhibition and a pandemic-denied do-over of the grand opening that wasn’t.
"We’ve planned Open House as a celebration of contemporary art, creativity and the communities of Guadalajara and Oklahoma City," says Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis. "After our grand-opening celebrations were dashed in March 2020, we’ve been steadily fielding requests from supporters, elected officials and community members to throw a proper party to welcome our community to its new arts center. Timed with the opening of La casa que nos inventamos, this weekend of programming blends our signature brand of radical hospitality with the warmth and generosity of Guadalajara’s artistic community. That’s why our supporters have ensured the weekend’s programming is free and open to all."
Split into two celebratory opportunities across Sept. 23 and 24, Open House offers something for everyone. Friday’s 21+ event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. that evening, and partygoers get the first glimpse at ~50 conceptual works by 19 Guadalajara artists, both indoors and out. The evening also features limited palm readings by artist Isa Carrillo, an exploration of language and meaning in a performance from artist Claudia Cisneros, light bites from local chefs, a cash bar, music and a photobooth courtesy The Garde.
Saturday’s all-ages festival carries over Carrillo’s readings and Cisneros’ Cruz roja and adds additional performances and artist talks, an opportunity to hear from both artists and the curator (all visiting from Mexico) in fast-paced, informal, image-driven conversations.
“For this exhibition, artists have created not just paintings, sculptures, video and photos, but live works of art — performances!” says guest Director of Curatorial Affairs Kate Green. “Through experiencing these works, audiences will have not only their minds but also their bodies expanded, creating unforgettable memories.”
Day two also includes artist peach’s thoughtful, participatory (picnics), along with live mariachi music, hands-on family artmaking, a guided La casa tour and tunes courtesy DJ Ben Hill. Food trucks Came’s Tacos y Mas and Of All Kind, a Vanessa House Beer Co. beer tent and La casa artworks are on tap for the whole day, keeping good food, good drink and surprising art accessible from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Our outside campus will be activated with art-making, a DJ, food trucks, a beer tent and a car show," says Curator of Public Programs and Performance Marie Casimir. "We know there is a community of car lovers who understand that cars can also be a piece of art, and we want to celebrate them."
"So often people feel like art centers and museums are unwelcoming spaces that expect you to have expert knowledge of fine art to participate in the experience. We want everyone to feel welcome at our Open House and to find their own access point to contemporary art."
Saturday afternoon, a car parade will weave through Automobile Alley and kick off a car show. The classic-car extravaganza references Gonzalo Lebrija’s Breve historia del tiempo, the gravity-defying sculpture standing tall in Campbell Art Park, and nods to the Latinx, Indigenous and BIPOC community in OKC.
“It’s a really special way to bridge the cultural gap that was left by colonialism on Indigenous and BIPOC people,” says Johnny Antonelli, car show coordinator and Oklahoma Contemporary’s preparator and maintenance associate. “I’ve worked in artistic institutions for 13 years and have felt that ostracized. This is an opportunity to show people from these institutions that the car and lowrider community isn’t filled with a bunch of thugs, but really hard-working people who are proud of what they do. And it’s an opportunity for that community to experience an institution like Oklahoma Contemporary.”
Putting community at the front, from performances to parades, Open House is ultimately an ode to the growth, resilience and rich culture of the exhibition’s focus: Guadalajara. La casa que nos inventamos showcases not only prominent artists like Jose Dávila, Eduardo Sarabia and Francisco Ugarte; it also highlights an emerging generation of artists, like Carrillo, Larissa Garza and Renata Petersen, spotlighting a wide variety of talent and disciplines.
“This exhibition is giving us a great opportunity to deepen relationships we have in the community, and invite them into our space,” says Director of Education Jaime Thompson.
As La casa demonstrates the journey and progress that make a city’s creative community distinctive and enduring, it felt right to simultaneously celebrate Oklahoma Contemporary’s move to its new home.
“This exhibition opening is going to allow us to throw open the doors officially, and really welcome people into the space,” Thompson says. “I’m excited that Saturday is perfect for all ages, with a slate of activity for all to do; it’ll be great for couples looking for a day date or folks who are looking for fun with the kiddos.”
Grab your friends or your fam and spend the weekend with us and your community across our grounds. Reserve your free tickets for one or both days of this community-forward festival. Tickets are not required but strongly recommended. Walk-ins welcome as space permits.
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