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New Shawnee art gallery in Shawnee fosters community creativity

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The beauty of art lies off the beaten path, and one new gallery in Shawnee embodies this journey.

Opened in October, Studio 112 and a Half quaintly rests between two of Shawnee’s historical buildings on Main Street, where husband-and-wife duo Douglas and Holly Gordon circulate vibrant work from Oklahoma’s emerging artists.

“People might be surprised to learn that Shawnee’s art scene is growing,” said artist and curator Douglas Gordon. “We exist among several galleries around the area that work together to put on shows and events. It’s quite a strong community of curators and artists.”

Born out of an art community stretching all the way to Gordon’s roots in Scotland, Studio 112 seeks to make art accessible for locals and artists alike.

“Originally, in 2011, I’d been eyeing the studio space as a gallery for displaying my art,” Gordon said. “When it became available again in 2016, I knew I wanted to use the space to highlight local artists. Everything just seemed to fall into place after that.”

Teamwork is key for a small gallery to survive. In operating Studio 112, the Gordons use the power of collaboration to guide their plans.

“I’ve taken inspiration from Shawnee’s galleries, especially ones featuring primarily Oklahoma artists,” he said. “We all give each other suggestions and resources to grow our galleries, which has been really beneficial for opening Studio 112 and a Half.”

Shawnee’s close-knit community culminates in the studio’s first and current gallery show, Unframed. Gordon said the idea for the show came from speaking with his artist friends about financial issues with displaying their art.

“Artists and gallery owners know that framing artworks can be extremely expensive, so we’re taking a different approach,” he said. “Instead of framing the art, we’re using metal hangers and wooden clothespins to hang each artwork on the wall.”

Unframed features a diverse range of artists from multiple regions, including Canadian Willow Snow, Scot Yvonne Taylor, Gordon himself, Shawnee’s own perceptual artist Jason Wilson and several other local artists. Other than the uniform manner in which they’re displayed, each artist’s work presents a unique approach.

“More art can be seen without requiring artists to matte and frame their own works,” Gordon said. “We’ve brought together some really colorful pieces from both established and emerging artists that I’ve met through social media, other art districts in Oklahoma or through other gallery owners.”

Studio 112 and a Half’s Unframed exhibit is on display through Monday. | Photo Studio 112 and a Half / provided
  • Kelsey Van Horn 2016
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Living gallery

Walking into the Unframed exhibition is a feast for the eyes. Wilson’s perceptual work incorporates geometrical 3-D shapes against vibrant, often neon backgrounds while other artists display abstract patterns and shapes in mixed media.

While remaining cost-efficient, Gordon said Studio 112’s down-to-earth approach also creates an inviting atmosphere.

“I think this show in particular lacks the stuffy, intimidating qwualities of many other gallery spaces,” he said. “We want everyone to feel invited when they enter the gallery and encouraged to interact with the art on the walls.”

Every part of Studio 112 and a Half’s space encourages artistic inspiration. The Gordons have created a workspace where artists can cultivate their ideas.

“Since we’ve opened, several people from around the area come into the studio for a space to work on their own art,” Gordon said. “We’ve had people come in, sit down and just start creating. The paintings around the room also help inspire artists while they’re working.”

Complete with long worktables, sinks and a range of supplies, the studio is already providing Shawnee locals a place to cultivate their artistic aspirations.

“One woman in particular comes in almost every day to work on her art,” Gordon said. “She needed a place to work without her kids and other distractions, and I’ve noticed a real progress in her confidence as an artist. That’s what the studio is all about.”
Although it’s a working space, there’s no pressure to be an artist at Studio 112. The Gordons even created a small library space for further inspiration.

“We have a non-functioning fireplace in the studio’s corner, so we decided to create a space inspired by [Jane Austen’s] reading room,” Gordon said. “I was inspired by a display about the [Austen] house at the Minneapolis art museum and thought recreating it would be a perfect way to use that fireplace in the studio.”

Inspiration never seems to cease in Studio 112 and a Half. The Gordons have a packed schedule for 2017.

“We have a show planned for every month of this year,” Gordon said, “so it’s going to be a busy but exciting year for the gallery and for the Shawnee art scene as well.”

Explore Unframed at Studio 112 and a Half, 112 1/2 E. Main St., in Shawnee through Monday. The studio is open 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Sundays, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays and 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. Visit studio112andahalf.com.

Print Headline: Creative corner; A new gallery in Shawnee fosters community creativity.

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