The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 June 2005

They say the neon lights are bright

A suggestion from NewPlains:

[H]ere's an idea for Automobile Alley: why not convince OU, UCO, OSU (and maybe OCU and OCCC) to consolidate their art schools into a single downtown art campus based in one or more of the old dealership buildings? Art programs require lots of studio space and facilities suitable for things like glass blowing and sculpture, which are hard to accomodate in campus buildings. I think those old buildings would be great for that, and with the Paseo, Midtown, and plenty of lofts nearby, housing wouldn't be a problem. It would give them much needed classroom space on their main campuses, and defray in four or five directions the costs of the facilities necessary to get their art programs accredited (which, amazingly, none of the above are). I think that area would be perfect for something like that, maybe modeled on the downtown consortium.

It makes a certain amount of sense. A couple of galleries have already opened along or just off Broadway, and there's no reason we can't have an art presence downtown besides what's in the officially-proclaimed Arts District.

But none of those university programs have full accreditation? Really? The mind reels.

Posted at 7:34 AM to City Scene


Well, accreditation is relative. The universities are all accredited by their various accrediting agencies. They haven't gone to the extra trouble and expense to accredit their art departments, probably because the cost isn't in line with the benefit. I'll bet that some of those departments are more than up to snuff.

It would be astonishing to get this proposal through committee at ONE school. To get them together would require, well, I don't know. The Red Sea comes to mind.

And what happens when some yokel sees a nude sculpture or something slightly controversial through those big dealership windows? I can hear the screams now about "taxpayer funded pornography." (Which I do oppose, by the way - I know it when I see it.)

It's a good idea. But the execution is tricky, to say the least.

(And don't leave us out. Our art department is fantastic.)

Posted by: Dan at 8:47 AM on 23 June 2005

Well, Individual Artists of Oklahoma, which sits in one of those dealership buildings, has run a few exhibits which were, shall we say, not ideal for the tiny tots, but I'm not aware that they've drawn any complaints from yokeldom.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:25 AM on 23 June 2005

Well, they're state accredited, but not by the NASAD (national association of schools of art and design), which is generally expected for a good art program. I went out of state for that very reason, as did most of the best artists from my high school. The benefits of having a top tier art program in a city go beyond any sort of flakey richard florida "creative-people-are-just-better" knee jerk; companies are attracted by large pools of untapped talent, and advertising and design firms really do like to set up shop near good art schools. I went to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond (really sort of the UCO of Virginia-a big commuter school, slightly hipper but not as prestigious as it's big brothers UVA and VT) and having a top rated art program really helped to carve out a pleasant and livable section out of Richmond's otherwise depressing Downtown. As for drawing fire from the yokelsphere, I think that most Oklahomans aren't nearly as reactionary as they're made out to be, and can generally be trusted to tell the difference between a nude painting and penthouse. (Of course, some artists try to be as provocative as possible, and provocing an outcry is often the best thing that will ever happen to their career.)

I think it would be an incredibly difficult thing to make happen, but I think that it *could* happen, especially if the city and at least 2 of the local universities got behind it. The main problem beyond the obvious bureacratic nightmare of getting all of the schools to sign on and pay up would be if OC and OCU got involved-I can imagine that some conflicts would arise from a public and private university trying to share space. Sort of like The Odd Couple, but instead of Jack Klugman, it's David Boren, and instead of Tony Randall, it's Tom McDaniel.

Posted by: NewPlains at 3:24 PM on 23 June 2005

Its a great and appealing idea for many reasons, including drawing art and artists out of the ivory towers and closer, literally, to the street.

However, there may be zoning hurdles to overcome, and perhaps even more daunting and costly, accessibility, life safety, building, and fire code requirements specific to buildings used for institutional purposes.

One wonders if there is grant money to encourage the creation of centers, intstitutes, consortia, or even satelite campus facilities.

This idea has 2 immediate benefits that should appeal to a broad base: It would bring art and education to a greater cross-section of the people; and is the sort of redevelopment that can help revitalize and add character to another part of "downtown".

Posted by: hernesheir at 4:01 PM on 23 June 2005