By Glenda Rice Collins
TULSA, Okla. USA — In celebration of artistic director Steve Liggett’s 26 years of leadership at Living Arts of Tulsa, a dazzling celebratory retirement party Friday night marked both the ‘end of an era’ and new beginnings at the Brady Arts District contemporary arts anchor gallery.
Highlighting the sounds, rhythms and elevated brilliance of the uniquely festive evening were the procession and intermingling of the energetic Matachines dancers,
in full regalia, who bring their special ritual color and flair to honor such Living Arts annual events as the revered Dia de los Muertos festivities on November 1. Liggett inspired this favored annual event for Tulsa, which now draws capacity crowds, after his 1990’s visit to Oaxaca, Mexico.
By influencing such tributes to cultural diversity, starting small and watching worthwhile efforts grow, Liggett has helped shape the culture with significant synergy, inclusive environment, and by providing a home for safe risk-taking and creative self-expression through a variety of artistic opportunities and educational programs.
Allow Art to Happen
Emblazoned across the front of Liggett’s white shirt, large black letters proclaimed: “ALLOW ART TO HAPPEN.” Exemplary of the process and diligence of creating new art, Japanese artist Taro Takizawa, perched on a ladder, worked nearby with intense concentration on a large scale, labor- intensive black-and-white wall mural which is taking several days to complete, during his current visit from Syracuse, New York, where he currently resides.
During his recent remarks, Liggett reminded the capacity crowd of arts enthusiasts and friends that “it’s the process of creating art that is most important” to each involved individual or team. “Living Arts respects the process…The completed piece (of art) is just a souvenir…Living arts, for 27 years, is a place to do and say (artistically and perhaps politically) what you…please!”
Steve Liggett: The Living Arts Years
A retrospective exhibition of diverse artistic works inspired and created by Liggett, himself, and others –videos, installations, photos and sculpture — now fills most of the gallery space where the June 30 retirement party unfolded and music defined festive rhythms into the late hours. The spirit still lingers, no doubt!
First Friday Arts Crawl July 7
Takizawa’s complex wall installation, and the Liggett retrospective, will be viewable during the July 7 First Friday Arts Crawl, from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Brady Arts District, and continuing through July 20, along with Sense-Vessel: Stimulating Porous Experience, featuring the work of S. E. Nash and Tim Brown.
Opening night, providing for the curatorial debut of Living Arts of Tulsa’s new artistic director Jessica Borusky, will include a live performance by S. E. Nash and an artist’s talk by Tim Brown on July 7.
Entrance is free for all exhibits.
Onward and Upward to New Heights with Your Support
Liggett now reminds artists and the public: “Living Arts is an organism that grows and evolves…(and) that is what the new director will (inspire and oversee).” With the current budget cuts in the political environment, and attempts to ‘gut’ or eliminate such entities as the National Endowment for the Arts, LIggett says “It is vital that you talk to your legislators….seriously! Just having this place stimulate new thinking is most important…If you are not a Living Arts member, you need to become one.”
The 2015 Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award was bestowed upon Liggett in the category of Community Service, This award recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the arts in specific Oklahoma communities in the areas of leadership and volunteerism.
As for his retirement years ahead, says Liggett: “Shirley and I have great plans…making art!”
# # # # # Photos by Glenda Rice Collins. All Rights Reserved.
# # # # #glendaricecollins.com Updated July 2, 2017.