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The Oklahoman photographer gets abstract for exhibit 'North of Reno'

After 40 years as a photojournalist, Doug Hoke, the newspaper’s director of photography, has been expanding his focus to take in fine art, too.
by Brandy McDonnell and Doug Hoke Published: May 2, 2014
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After four decades as a photographer, Doug Hoke is learning to look in a whole new way.

During the past year and a half, The Oklahoman’s director of photography has been expanding his focus to take in fine art as well as photojournalism.

“I’m amazed at the opportunities that have happened in the last 18 months, and I have to keep reminding myself that I have been doing this for 40 years. You know, I’ve been at the paper for 37,” Hoke said in an interview Tuesday at The Oklahoman offices.

“It always surprises me when these things come up. ... I’ve been doing this for so long, but the selling of the prints and doing shows is so different than what I’ve done the rest of my career. The last 18 months has been such a neverending learning curve that I’m still looking at the top of the mountain to try to figure out what’s the next step.”

On Friday, Hoke, 57, will open his third and biggest gallery show to date at JRB Art at the Elms in the Paseo Arts District. Titled “North of Reno,” the exhibit of 18 abstract black-and-white photos of downtown buildings will open during the monthly First Friday Paseo Gallery Walk.

“When he’s doing photojournalism, he’s either telling the story or he’s helping to tell the story, so he shoots from that perspective. He’s shooting (this show) as an artist. There’s no moral. It’s his eye. It would be like he’s a performer working without a wire. He can do whatever he wants to do and whatever he sees. So, it’s his expression,” said Joy Reed Belt, owner of JRB Art at the Elms.

“You’ve walked by these buildings, but you haven’t seen what Doug sees.”

Through the lens

Although Hoke has crafted a long career shooting photos as a staffer for The Oklahoman and a freelancer for Sports Illustrated, Time, Business Week and other publications, it was a potter that inspired his long-dormant desire to become an art photographer.

Hoke is the nephew of the late, great potter Montee Hoke, who along with Bert Seabourn and Greg Burns exhibited in the first 18 consecutive Festivals of the Arts in downtown OKC. His uncle remains a celebrated figure in the local and regional art scene almost 24 years after his death, and Montee Hoke’s daughter, Cindy Hoke Blackburn, is a well-known fiber artist.

“She’s semiretired, so I feel like it’s kind of up to me to keep the Hoke name out there in the art community,” Doug Hoke said. “It’s always something I had in the back of my mind, and the opportunity finally presented itself.

In fall 2012, the Edmond resident got the chance to place some of his photos in a small shop in the Paseo, and he just happened to receive an unexpected royalty check from Sports Illustrated that would offset the startup costs of printing, matting and framing his work.

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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by Doug Hoke
Photography Manager
Director of Photography Doug Hoke started his career at The Oklahoman and Times as a part-timer December 1976. After just his third semester at Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma). Hoke was moved onto the full-time staff...
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ON VIEW

Doug Hoke’s ‘North of Reno’

•When: Friday through May 31.

Where: JRB Art at the Elms, 2810 N Walker.

Opening reception: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday during the monthly Paseo Gallery Walk.

Information: 528-6336 or www.jrbartgallery.com.

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