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Oklahoma Artists Invitational exhibit benefits stroke research and treatment

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Six years ago, a group of artist friends decided it would be a fun idea to put on their own art show. They never imagined it would grow into one of the city’s best regular showcases.

Jan Smith is included among the friends who passed time together by painting. In 2010, they organized a public art show that was more than a vanity project. They decided to make a difference. Oklahoma Artists Invitational (OAI) was born.

“When we really got to talking about it, we decided we should be more than just a show,” Smith said. “‘Let’s do something for charity and for health education.’”

There are usually two OAI events each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Friday-Sunday’s OAI benefit is at the far north end of Northpark Mall by Shogun Steak House of Japan at 12100 N. May Ave. A portion of weekend art sales benefits Mercy’s stroke programs. The biannual shows have raised more than $10,000 in six years.

The shows are always free to attend, and all art is for sale. OAI is a juried exhibition featuring 26 local artists. The show’s Friday opening reception features appetizers from Rococo. Water, coffee, wine and other refreshments also will be available throughout the weekend.

Guests may enter a raffle with prizes from Rococo, BC Clark Jewelers, Geno’s Furs, The Lime Leopard, Silks Etc., The Greens Country Club and others to be drawn Sunday. Attendance is not necessary to win.

Every art show needs a venue. Smith’s husband Richard V. Smith is medical director at Mercy Neuroscience Institute, so the first OAI benefit was housed inside the institute’s glass atrium. Later, the group was invited to move its show inside Northpark Mall.

The OAI showcases have also become known for their free, standing-room-only stroke prevention and care seminars. When the friends were looking for a speaker the first year, it did not take them long to find one. It helps when one of the organizers’ husbands is an esteemed practitioner and stroke expert.

“We started talking about who we could get to give a health talk, and I once again prevailed on my husband,” Jan Smith said. “He’s given it ever since.”

Richard Smith speaks 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday about stroke education at this year’s event.

Jan Smith’s work will be among the roster of showcased artists. Most of the works are oil or acrylic paintings, in addition to pieces by three jewelers and one sculptor.

The original paintings are all available for sale, as are prints. Giclée prints are made from professional scans onto paper or canvas.

“The ones on canvases look just like an oil painting,” she said.

Scale notecard prints are also available for less than $10.

“We want to offer a huge variety of prices for people at the show,” Smith said. “When they come, maybe they can’t afford the $2,000 oil painting but they want to go home with something they really liked about it. If there’s a notecard scanned from that original oil painting, they can take that home and feel really pleased about it.”

OAI has become a popular show for local artists. Space is usually limited to around 25 applicants.

Smith said they would like to open the show to more artists, but the space they’re in limits how many works they can exhibit. She also likes keeping up the show’s selective reputation.

“That’s what keeps the quality of the art so wonderful,” she said, “and I think that’s part of the reason people who come to the show say, ‘Oh my gosh; this is the best art show in Oklahoma City.’”

Print headline: Visual aid, Oklahoma Artists Invitational builds a strong reputation on quality art and charitable contributions. 

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