The state's only traveling exhibit of exclusively Oklahoma artists is free and open to the public at the Changing Gallery in Cort Mall, 215 S. Muskogee Ave.

The juried exhibition, 24 Works on Paper, will hang through Sept. 20 in Tahlequah, one of 10 locations on the tour.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition show reveals the depth and breadth of art-making statewide, and includes cut paper, photographs, and works in oil, watercolor, charcoal, ink, pastel, and serigraph on hand-dyed paper.

24 Works on Paper opened in August 2018 in Guymon at the Public Library and Arts Center, and will close Jan. 17, 2020, at the Tulsa World/Lorton Family Gallery in the Gaylord-Pickens Museum in Oklahoma City. The exhibit has visited Weatherford, Altus, McAlester, Sulpher, Lawton, and Stillwater before coming to Tahlequah, and will continue to Tonkawa.

"A key point of the program is to reach our rural communities and give the artist that exposure," said Krystle Brewer, executive director of Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Brewer encourages people to attend the free show.

"We hadn't been to Tahlequah before with the show, and as a statewide nonprofit, it's important for us to visit and reach as many communities as we can," said Brewer. "It's hard for galleries because most shows are too expensive or too large for these smaller galleries, so it creates programming."

OVAC President John Marshall was last in Tahlequah 23 years ago to float the river.

"It has really changed. There's a lot more activity, more art, people walking around; it's really nice," said Marshall, a retired geologist from Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition board recently met at the Cherokee Arts Center and held new board member training. For the members, pairing the show installation and board retreat together just made sense.

"Coming to a different place is always good. You can meet regularly as a board, but it's also good to visit other places and focus on something out of our element. It really makes it nice," Marshall said.

Brewer said she'd also floated the river a few years ago, but didn't engage with the community.

"I'm impressed with how much there is to see and experience, and I'll have to come back," said Brewer. "It's been an absolutely wonderful experience, we should have planned for two full days."

The board members also toured the newly opened Cherokee National History Museum, the Spider Gallery, Arts Council of Tahlequah Gallery, and had a cultural arts experience designing medallions with Matthew Anderson, Cherokee Arts cultural specialist.

Diane Salamon, OVAC secretary, was amazed at the vibrancy of the arts community in Tahlequah.

"Everybody is supportive of each other," said Salamon. "When I first walked in the Arts Center and saw the displays and studios, it was obvious the artists took pride in their work."

Saturday evening ended their tour with an after-hours tour of Pat Synar's Studio, Foundry and Museum.

"This was the magic – the best way to end the day," said Brewer. "The new museum is, well, wow!"

Other board members were also impressed with the Cherokee National History Museum.

Kirsten Olds, from Tulsa, teaches art history and is director of arts management at the University of Tulsa. She said she wants to encourage TU students to visit the museum.

"It's a model for content and history, and exhibition design – the labels, interactivism even the attention to the flow for audiences. It's beautiful," said Olds.

An art teacher at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Kyle Larson enjoyed seeing a thriving arts community and the Spider Gallery.

"As an educator, I can see lots of possibilities for field trips. We already go to Tulsa; it's not that much farther," Larson said. "The multimedia approach to the museum was really dynamic, something for every type of learner; there's audio playing and video."

OVAC supports visual arts and artists, and their power to enrich communities. It promotes public interest in the arts and connecting people of all ages to the visual arts. Organized in 1988, the nonprofit supports artists living and working in Oklahoma, helping them realize their potential through education, exposure, and funding.

Learn more

For more information about the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, visit http://ovac-ok.org.