ArtNow 2017
Painter Jessica Sanchez is one of more than 20 Oklahoma artists whose work will be featured Jan. 20 at the 2017 ArtNow event. (Provided)

Co-curators Kelsey Karper and Jennifer Scanlan considered dozens of artists for ArtNow 2017. They queried colleagues, reviewed websites and spent months making studio visits all across Oklahoma.

The ArtNow exhibition, featuring 24 artists, highlights the diversity of the state’s art today. The show’s closing event is an art sale — the first big party of the year with cocktails, tastemakers and the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind works. Proceeds help keep Oklahoma Contemporary exhibitions open free of charge, year-round.

The public can get a sneak peek now through Jan. 20, and more than 200 works will go on sale at the party on Friday, Jan. 20. That evening will begin with a VIP reception at 6:30, and the main event will kick off at 8. Tickets sold out in 2016, so buy yours quickly. Young Patron tickets begin at $50.

A night for the senses

To reflect Oklahoma Contemporary’s mission to encourage artistic expression in all its forms, Karper and Scanlan chose artwork across many media, from paintings, photography and sculpture to jewelry, furniture, tableware and (an ArtNow first) fashion design.

There’s even “olfactory artwork” — a scent that aims to create an aromatic landscape of the photograph Cathleen Faubert has paired it with.

Faubert said that scent is a synthetic version of a rare item called ambergris, “a gray, waxy substance formed in the stomach of sperm whales, caused by the irritation of squid beaks as they make their way through the whale’s digestive system.”

Her fragrance piece is titled Neptune’s Treasure, and she is but one of many creative artists participating in this year’s show.

Crystal Z. Campbell

Fingerprints by Crystal Campbell. (Provided)

Crystal Z. Campbell explores the evolution of the fingerprint, used for more than a century to identify persons of interest. Today, the fingertip is a portal between our physical and digital worlds.

Campbell uses the fingerprint as both a “face” and interface, where patterns and information generated from our bodies become the medium for her works in paint and collage.

“I am excited to be part of Art Now. There are a lot of contemporary artists in Oklahoma that this show is introducing me to, and I look forward to connecting with them,” Campbell said. “The show is a curated snapshot of Oklahoma-based artists working in a delicate social and political time, and it’s fascinating to see what work is being created in these moments.”

Jim Polan

Plums So Juicy They Offend by Jim Polan. (Provided)

Jim Polan was born in the same hospital as Frank Kline, and Polan’s father studied under Arshile Gorky. These artists are still strong influences on his work.

After a car accident left him paralyzed in 1976, Polan left painting for 15 years to focus on health, family and law school.

“After the accident, I tried drawing with my non-dominant left hand, and then painted with a brush fixed to the palm of my right hand with Ace bandages and duct tape — but eventually stopped painting altogether to work on my paralysis,” Polan explains on his website. “I lived in an old three-room stone schoolhouse that resembled the Alamo, wrote two unpublishable novels, drank bourbon, got a tattoo in Chicago, got married, stopped drinking bourbon, went to law school, had a daughter and started painting again. The paralysis turned out okay.”

When he returned to painting, Polan began working in a combination of action-painting and reductive/additive editing.

“I keep a list of titles for paintings yet to be made,” Polan said. “I’m still looking for ‘So daVinci Walks Into This Bar…’.”

Lawrence Naff

Emerald City by Lawrence Naff. (Provided)
Emerald City by Lawrence Naff. (Provided)

Using techniques learned in Osaka, Lawrence Naff combines his childhood crystal fascination with the Japanese art of decoden.

Placing each jewel one by one, his work fuses natural minerals with the glimmer of man-made crystal.

“I find my inspiration in nature,” Naff said. “A lot of my work has an organic look. Some pieces resemble like roots or tentacles because seeing them in nature fascinates me. When I get inspired by something, my first instinct is to go create as soon as possible so it can exist.”

Jessica Sanchez

Lollipop Collection by Jessica Sanchez. (Provided)
Lollipop Collection by Jessica Sanchez. (Provided)

Jessica Sanchez enjoys painting and sculpting things that make others queasy.

“It is human nature to look, even stare at things that make us uncomfortable,” Sanchez wrote in her artist statement. “The initial reaction of disgust is almost always followed by an interest and fascination.”

Sanchez’s work (in ArtNow, she features acrylic lollipops filled with unexpected objects) allows viewers to do something that is usually discouraged: stare.

Purchase art to support art

Guests will also find a variety of price points, with pieces starting as low as $100.

You can explore the complete list of artists here, and you can buy tickets here.