The Womb, an art gallery co-owned by Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne, will remain closed by the Oklahoma City Fire Marshal, but a New Year's Eve party scheduled at the former garage will proceed as planned at the Farmers Public Market.
Coyne and gallery co-owner Rick Sinnett had hoped they could reopen the gallery, 25 NW 9, following its forced closing Thursday. But in discussions with fire and police officials, Sinnett said no accommodation could be reached.
The owners of the historic Farmers Public Market auditorium, however, quickly reached out to the band to allow for the party and art showing to proceed beginning Friday night and continuing New Year's Eve. The party on New Year's Eve is set to follow a joint concert by the Flaming Lips and the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center.
The gallery hosted several public events since opening earlier this year. But the citation closing the gallery noted the building did not have sprinklers, exits or other safety measures required for large public assembly spaces.
Oklahoma City Fire Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland said “positive” discussions were held Friday and that both sides hope to work together to see how the gallery can be opened at a later time.
“There were just too many issues that have to be addressed in a short amount of time for the city to issue a permit for the event at that location,” Stanaland said.
Stanaland said owners of the Farmers Market went through similar issues when it opened as an event venue a couple years ago, but the problems were resolved, and it has the department's blessing as an alternative spot for the party and art show.
Sinnett said he is grateful for the last-minute offer by the Farmers Market, 311 S Klein, and a move of the art displays was under way Friday afternoon.
“There are a couple of things we need to address, but they're not completely stifling,” Sinnett said of the permit issues for reopening The Womb.
“If we address them in a timely fashion, there is hope for the future of The Womb. We're not giving up, we're not defeated. We want to make sure we're compliant, that we're looking out for people's safety, and that we have something that is sustainable.”