USAO Art Professor Displays Works in Oklahoma Centennial Exhibit
CHICKASHA – When the Oklahoma State Arts Council came knocking, Steve Brown was quick to answer with a resounding “yes.” The USAO professor of art recently was asked to display three original works in the new Oklahoma Centennial Art Collection Exhibition at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Brown’s pieces join more than 100 other works from Oklahoma artists in the inaugural exhibition, which goes on display Nov. 17. A ribbon cutting ceremony led by Governor Brad Henry was held at noon on the First Floor Rotunda at the Capitol.
An official Oklahoma Centennial Project, the exhibition will be on display on the first floor of the Capitol in the west wing and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.
“I am stunned to be a part of this and am joyful about my participation,” said Brown. “It’s an extreme honor for me to find myself in the company of artists like Bert Seaborn and Edward Rausch, a major internationally known Oklahoma artist. He’s in every art history book I’ve ever studied.”
This is not Brown’s first invitation to display art at the Capitol. His patriotic photograph series, “American Monuments,” went on display in the North Gallery of the State Capitol earlier this year.
Brown, who has taught art at USAO since 1988, said the Centennial Exhibition provides many great opportunities and honors, both as an artist and as an Oklahoman.
“This is an opportunity for me to be part of Oklahoma state heritage and an opportunity for our university,” he said. “To be a part of a permanent art collection, the first time Oklahoma’s had a permanent state collection … that’s kind of astounding. I’ve been honored in a number of exhibits and a part of shows around the state, but this is a big deal to me.”
Suzanne Tate, interim executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council, said the Oklahoma State Art Collection is a visual anthology of artistic expression in Oklahoma.
“This new museum-quality gallery provides a permanent home for the Oklahoma State Art Collection,” Tate said. “We’re proud to give our citizens and visitors alike an opportunity to see the work of talented Oklahoma artists.”
As an artist, Brown explores both traditional photography and graphic design. Using computer software, Brown often combines multiple photographs and digital images to create strange and surreal worlds.
Brown’s Centennial Exhibition pieces, a set entitled, “Skyview: Tumacacori V.1-3,” depict Arizonian architecture.
“Tumacacori is the name of a Spanish mission site just a few miles north of the Mexican border, about 40 miles south of Tucson,” Brown said. “Much of the architectural images used in this series come from this site, part of the Gadsden Purchase after the Mexican/American War. The cloud images come from my front yard.”
A painting and printmaking graduate from the University of Oklahoma, Brown earned his master’s of fine arts degree from the University of Ohio. Brown said Ohio’s “wealth of photohistory became very influential” in his development as an artist.
After serving as a teaching assistant at Ohio, he took a position as assistant professor at the Universidad de las Americas in Pueblo, Mexico. Brown joined USAO in 1988 and is now a professor of art. He teaches photography and graphic design.
As an award-winning artist, Brown has a quarter century of experience as a studio artist with 12 international exhibitions, 106 national exhibitions, 42 regional exhibitions and 9 solo exhibits. He has won numerous awards at the national level as well as the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s Award of Excellence. As a graphic designer, he has illustrated nationally published books, as well as botanical and digital illustrations.
Brown reiterated his honor of being chosen to display work in the Oklahoma Centennial Exhibition.
“How I found myself there is beyond me, but I’m pretty proud to be there,” he said.