USAO Receives York Art Collection Valued at $60,000
CHICKASHA – York International is known worldwide for providing heating and air conditioning in homes and businesses, but at the University of Science and Arts, it’s known for something completely different. The company recently donated more than $60,000 worth of contemporary artwork to the USAO Art Gallery.
On display through August 20, the York International Collection of Contemporary Art exhibit includes many colorful paintings and multimedia pieces, all of which were donated by the global home and office comfort company.
Cecil Lee, director of the USAO Art Gallery, said the donation is a major addition to the university’s permanent art collection.
“It’s a great coup to receive this,” Lee said. “These pieces fit into the mission of the USAO Art Gallery to promote the visual arts of the central Oklahoma region.”
Lee said the gallery has developed a permanent collection of works donated by Charles and Margôt Nesbitt, Opel Thorpe and others. The Nesbitt collection includes 19th century photographs of Native American chiefs by Will Soulé and photographs of early Guthrie and Oklahoma City. The Thorpe collection has works by many traditional artists reflecting a wide range of techniques and aesthetic directions.
“The new pieces donated by York International reflect more avant-garde and cutting edge directions in local art taste,” Lee said. “With these new works, the gallery now houses a collection which quite fairly reflects the spectrum of Oklahoma art in the second half of the 20th century.”
In all, Lee said the collection is worth an estimated $60,000 or more. Originally hung inside York’s corporate offices in Norman, the 26 pieces represent several international artists from the 1960s and ‘70s, including works by Eugene Bavinger, Nobu Fukui, Roger Schultz and Norbert Irvine.
Some pieces canvas whole walls with splashes of bright color. Others reflect landscapes, abstract shapes and Native American themes. The collection includes several traditional-sized paintings alongside three massive pieces. One painting by Bavinger is nearly 8 feet high by 18.5 feet wide.
“It exceeds any space we have to display it inside the gallery, but we will put up with its size because of its value,” Lee said. Indeed, the gallery has been expanded into the adjoining hallway to include the large works.
Formed in 1997, the USAO Art Gallery is home to both a large permanent collection and an ever-changing display of exhibits. One of the gallery’s most popular attractions is the Seven-State Biennial, a juried art show that draws artists from Oklahoma and nearby states for competition and exhibition. The cooperative exhibit is shared with the Leslie Powell Gallery in Lawton and goes on display in the USAO Art Gallery Nov. 3 through Dec. 7.
In spring, 2007, the Oklahoma Gazette named the USAO Art Gallery the No. 4 attraction in its “100 Things in 100 Miles” to visit in Oklahoma. The gallery is free and open to the public.
Richard Wells, a retired art professor at the University of Oklahoma, is a prominent Oklahoma art collector with his wife, Maurine. A supporter of the USAO Art Gallery, Wells said the gallery holds a special distinction in Oklahoma.
“The USAO Art Gallery and the Leslie Powell Gallery are two of the principal art galleries in the state that promote regional artists,” Wells said.
The gallery is located in Davis Hall on 17th Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
More information about the USAO Art Gallery is available online at www.usao.edu/gallery.
York International was formed in 1874 and has provided many products and services, including contracts with the U.S. government during wartimes. In 2005, York was acquired by Johnson Controls. Today, Johnson Controls has offices across the globe serving more than 125 countries.
More information about York International and Johnson Controls is available online at www.york.com.