Tulsa: Brady Arts District Rocks On with Heart Health Focus at 108 Contemporary Gallery

By Glenda Rice Collins, Arts Columnist
Published August 28, 2015, For GlendaRiceCollins.com

TULSA, Okla., USA — “OH, Tulsa!”  What next?
Recently designated as “Center of the Universe” during a July Brady Arts District music festival, focused on three outdoor stages and filled with musical talent (ranging from “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.” to “Roxy Roca” on the Bank of Oklahoma stage at Guthrie Green), — Tulsa was further celebrated and critiqued during the Living Arts of Tulsa OH, TULSA! Biennial this month, continuing through today–Last call!

NOW ON SCENE:  at the 108 Contemporary Gallery,
through September 20, 2015:
Susan Taber Avila: Matters of Dis-Ease,
sponsored by St. John Heart Institute

Don’t Let Heart Disease Unravel Your Life–

A brilliant batch  of dazzling red dresses assembled by guest installation artist Susan Taber Avila, — stand (and hang), boutique-style, summoning attention to the number one killer of women —HEART DISEASE.

Each red dress represents a survivor of cardiovascular illness, and is tagged with an important message to ponder.  Avila is collecting brief stories about Women with Heart Disease and Women with Heart for this installation. To contribute a story, or learn more about her project, A Stitch in Time, please visit:  http://www.suta.com/health/stitch_in_time.php .

At the August 7 exhibition opening, a team of  St. John Clinic health professionals, including cardiologist Heather Cha, M.D., were positioned near the unique collection of red dresses, in order to help eradicate the ‘lack of awareness’ of cardiovascular disease as the #1 Killer of Women.

September 4: Gallery Health Screenings Again Offered, Gratis

At the health care booth on site, art gallery visitors can “ask the cardiologist” about heart health concerns, and visit with other providers on the team, to have blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked at the 108 Contemporary Gallery, 108 Brady St., again on September 4, during the upcoming Brady Arts District First Friday Art Crawl.

I took my opportunity to visit first with Dr. Cha during the August 7 events, by asking her to define the most notable heart attack clues for women.
Her answer included a list: “shortness of breath, chest discomfort (or unusual pain in the neck, jaw, shoulder or back areas), change in functional status, or intense fatigue.”  Dr. Cha says that these are “usually gradual changes” to be aware of.

Broken Hearts & Stress

Asked to comment about the so-called “broken heart syndrome” health risks, and the levels of stress in our lives, particularly for women,  Dr. Cha says that these risk factors play out much more in women.

About stress: “We wear so many hats.  I see it in my own mother and granddaughter, and in myself…There needs to be a cultural and generational shift (regarding awareness of the cardiovascular health risk factors women face).”

“Bridging art and medicine can do just that.”

Enter:  Susan T. Avila, MFA, professor & chair, Design,
UC Davis, University of California

At UC Davis, I had a red dress collection with some of my students. And I had a personal experience (related to someone) who had a stroke and died…I started collecting (scrap textiles), first to cut up and use as sculpture..It became a portrait of womankind as well…originally from textile waste.”

Avila creates textile artwork to enhance perceptions of contemporary culture. Focused on women and their health, this installation is said to be “riffing off the red dress symbol used by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association to promote awareness of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of women (and men),” according to gallery details.

To learn more about the #1 killer of women, this site is suggested: https://www.goredforwomen.org/

Avila’s installation at the 108 Contemporary Gallery is sardonically punctuated with messages she refers to as “information clouds” on the wall, reminding viewers to be aware of heart-healthy, practices, such as: brushing and flossing teeth daily, “Think Positive” and “Laugh Often.”

In Memoriam

One gallery exhibition rack holds only empty dress hangers, to symbolize those women who have died from cardiovascular illness.

Opening October 2, 2015, from 6 to 9 p.m. Biotica & Follies:
Crystal Wagner and Kathleen Trenchard

Biotica: Crystal Wagner will feature her 2D and 3D forms while investigating alternative uses of materials through hybrid approaches to printmaking, sculpture and installation, in both small and large-scale..

Follies: San Antonio artist Kathleen Trenchard’s work explores contemporary designs, applications and materials, as influenced by her creations in the Mexican traditions of papel picado, or punched paper.

(Read more about upcoming 108 Contemporary Gallery events, Living Arts of Tulsa, and arts-focused Oklahoma leaders, in articles coming soon to this website).

Photo credit: Steven Michaels Photography, courtesy of 108 Contemporary Gallery.

# # #Glenda Rice Collins 8-28-15


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