A naively appealing approach to portraiture — seasoned with liberal amounts of empathy and artistic license — is found in “The Company You Keep” show at Individual Artists of Oklahoma, 706 W Sheridan.
Photographers Lori Oden, Romy Owens and Kelsey Karper; painters Stephanie Ruggles Winter and Jennifer Barron; and poet-songwriter Bonnie Allen are represented in the exhibit, running through Jan. 4.
Oden, an Oklahoma History Center curator, literally casts a long shadow in a group of black and white photos, in each, one of her friends stands on a sunlit forested road or path.
In four framed photos titled “Haunted Lens,” Oden becomes a ghostly, disappearing figure setting up a camera on a tripod as if preparing to take her own picture in a mirror or through frosted glass. Block letters and stacks of books supply the words, combining with the name “Smith,” written on someone's bare abdomen, in another three photos, framed together, which Oden collectively calls “Wordsmith.”
Best known as a mixed-media photographer, Owens opts for striking silhouette portraits of the artists in the show, each cut out of a single piece of red, blue, yellow, green or black acrylic plastic.
Associate director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, Karper creates bizarre but charming fantasy landscapes for her fellow artists in six large, horizontally hung, acrylic mounted photos from black-and-white negatives. Wearing a horned helmet, “The Viking” stands on an island near penguins and a snowy fir tree.
A woman looking up from one corner of the picture, wearing a stocking cap and sheep-lined coat, seems almost as cold as the stylized snowflakes behind her, in one work by Winter. “Some Mornings” is the evocative title of a second portrait by Winter in which a woman with dark red, not carefully combed hair, favors us, or the mirror, with a slightly jaundiced look.
Motley objects on the key chains of her colleagues seem to float in front of the sky's mottled, changing cloud patterns in six skinny, vertically hung acrylic canvases by Barron, director of the Paseo Arts Association.
Allen, who works for the Oklahoma Depatrment of Rehabilitation Service, rounds out the show with five portrait poem-songs; the title of one celebrates “the life I have and … the company I keep.”
Set to close with a pot-luck dinner from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 4 at the gallery, the show is worth visiting.
Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call 232-6060 or visit www.iaogallery.org for information.
— John Brandenburg