Sunday, January 23, 2011


By Nancy Condit

“The Blue Lantern” exhibit now showing at IAO (Individual Artists Association) is a straightforward narrative show, except for one piece, and that makes the show enigmatic.
The show is on exhibit with “Secrets of the Universe and Other Works by Gary Shilling” through February 5.

The components of “The Blue Lantern” are a small living space that resembles a small Japanese dwelling, with two sleeping pallets and a large – for the space, lush green ficus tree, a small Asian boat – is it a miniature?, books, each with a sepia toned photograph of old times – nature, the woods, a nice old house, the stormy ocean, and waterfalls on the scale on Niagara Falls, coated in waterproof vitrine – ancrostic made of beeswax and Damar varnish, beautifully Photo shopped photographs of the beach and ocean in the streets of France, and the Book of Death.

This is very much like Artspace at [Untitled’s] Kahn and Selesnick’s show of two years ago, as a story told with manipulated photographs and created artifacts.  However, while Kahn and Selesnick’s works looked at past events, as Clint Stone, executive director of IAO, pointed out, “This one looks into the future.  I don’t know if you’d call it prophetic or not.”

“It’s a very exploratory show.  Everyone’s going to get something different out of it. 
It’s about the collaboration (of ten) artists rather than the (individual) artist.”  Led by James Gallagher of Tulsa, they built the wooden boat and living space over ten days at IAO before the exhibit opened. 

The “Book of Death” is composed of photographs created by 500 artists and posted on the wall as visitors enter IAO.  The one that this reviewer found most eye-catching was that of a very old man wearing a sheet wrapped under his arms next to a baby facing the reverse direction – also dressed in a sheet.  The world “Book of Death” separated the black and white images as though it were the title of a book.

Well worth looking for, if only for its painterliness, is the  Darren Dirksen’s surrealistic oil of nautilus flying over the ocean.

Artists creating the show are James Gallagher, Yiren Gallagher, Jeff Hogue, Sam Fredrickson, Amelie Junque, Matt Phipps, Lee Roy Chapman, Darren Dirksen, Richard Baxter, and Linda Wilson.

Should the viewer be interested in buying the Boat, it is $90,000, however, it was mentioned that the price might be negotiable.  The Blue Lantern living space is negotiable, and the Nautilus is $3,200.  Bug prints are $35.

Also being shown is work by Gary Shilling.  The central part of his work on display, at least in size, was “Secrets of the Universe,” which was created from 2005 to 2011.  It is about seven to nine feet long, installed around two walls of the exhibit space, and about a foot and a half high.    Shilling uses small drawings and comic book art cut, pasted and augmented by painting to create a work that leads the eye in many directions at once.  The concentration seems to be on scientific drawings, with many of insects, superheroes, Scooby Doo – probably not of the latter category, and ladies.  Stone writes in the press release, “The artist does use the imagery of airplanes, insects and birds to thread the smaller works into one larger more cohesive work.  …these images of flight have a very specific meaning related to the spirit systems of the Congo.”

IAO is open from to Tuesday through Saturday, and is located at 706 W. Sheridan.  Road construction makes it a little tricky to find, but there is a large parking lot on the north side of the street.  The phone number is 232-6060.

The space is new, large, and available for events of all kinds.  See the website at

 Winter Sunset at Lake Hefner

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Rachael Flatt performing at the 2010 Skating and Gymnastics Spactular.

Olympic medalists Bart Conner and his partner and wife Nadia Comaneci, of the perfect 10, continue to annually host, this year with Peggy Fleming, the fabulous Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular.  This year it was broadcast on January 9 on NBC from Allen, Texas.  The live band Lonestar performed much of the music.  If you missed it, the show will be rebroadcast on the Hallmark channel at on March 8, and at on March 14.
The show was live in Oklahoma City in 2008.
Breaking the rules is what makes the Spectacular such fun.  Seeing five top male gymnasts on the parallel bars at one time is great fun.  One at a time they mounted, and sequentially rose to handstands – all five at one time.
During solo performances, they used varying dismounts, including a one and a half somersault.
Gymnasts included Olympians Jonathan Horton, Raj Bhavsar and Kevin Tan.
Choreographing the men’s part of the show “was a nightmare,” said Paul Ziert, choreographer of the gymnastics portion of the show, and the Olympic medal winning OU team of which Bart Connors was a member.  Ziert’s been doing this on and off since 1989 or so.    “It was really fun to do.  Music adds to artistry.  The weird thing is to try to get the guys to listen to music.  They block out everything – that’s how they do it.”  The men don’t even use music in the floor exercise in competition, while it’s an integral part of the women’s floor ex.
Romanian-born Adriana Pop, who lives in Paris, France, and who designs the floor routines for the Bart Connor Gymnastics Academy in Norman, also choreographed much of the connecting women’s gymnastics pieces. “The ice skaters come with their own choreographers,” said Ziert. 
Skating to “The Party Heard Round the World,” the current U.S. pairs champions, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, skated with a Texas two step touch.  In one lift, he picked her up on one hip with their interlocked hands off the ice, and she rolled over his back and forwards over his head to land on the ice again.

The high bar - Ivan Ivankov

Other highlights included a gymnastics pair in the floor exercises, with a man in a good tumbling run, and two women leaping facing each other on the parallel bars, their costumes daisy dukes and red checked shirts.
Courtney Kupets and Courtney McCool, choreographed by McCool, performed to urban hip hop music with good high leaps that resolved into tumbles.
Holly Vise performed a funny novelty piece on the parallel beam to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” sung by Marilyn Monroe. Vise was dressed as Monroe, with a number of the guys dressed in tuxes.  Piece by piece the pink satin floor length dress was removed to became more performable, but the over the elbow white gloves stayed.  It was incredible that she would mount the beam with gloves, and they came off just before she did.
She did a good backwards somersault and back dismount.
This piece was choreographed by Ziert.  “In skating we show them as women, and in gymnastics we’re trying to keep them as little girls.  I wanted Holly to do a routine that showed her as a woman.”
Rachael Flatt skated the sunny “I’m Walking on Sunshine,” clad in yellow, with an all out skating routine, performing good spins and providing good variety to her routine.
Skater Evan Lysacek used his long body in good leg raised over his head spins.
Gymnast Nastia Lukin did a nice tumbling run in a gorgeous leotard with a large silver sequined curlique pattern.
Finishing up the program were three performances: six men, one at a time, on the high bar – two performing one armed giant swings, one doing a somersault above the high bar, and one doing a reverse somersault catch of the high bar.  They saved the best for last.

The program was highly produced, even though, a few times, the camera seemed at a loss to find the skater, starting at the far end of the rink to focus on a speck.
To find out where the next Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular will be performed live, go to  Steve Disson has produced the skating shows seen on television for the last 30 years, according to Ziert.


Saturday, January 8, 2011



 Miss Brown to You will be at the Jazz Lab on Friday, January 14th at 8 pm with a $7 charge at the door.

The next night, Saturday, January 15th, is the Gypsy Cafe Night, with DANCING, at the First Unitarian Church at N.W. 13th and Dewey at 7 pm.  There's a sliding scale for admission starting at $5.  The money goes to microcredit lending in Central America.


By Nancy Condit

January 8: “Burn the Floor” last Thursday night was ballroom dancing for the joy of dancing. The show, part of the 2010-11 Celebrity Attractions Broadway tour, continues Saturday night at , and Sunday at at the Civic Center Music Hall.

Of the ten dances, the highly produced show had the best feel for swing, backed up by two terrific drummers, Joseph Malone and Henry Soriano, who were onstage behind the dancers.  The company performed “Little Fishies,” “The Dirty Boogie,” and “Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing)” – which was actually the salsa and samba to swing music.  Men and women leapt on each others’ shoulders, swung through men and women’s legs, and whipped their hair. 

Listening to an online interview with Lisa Wolf, show creator Harley Medcalf called the show “dance theater.”  It was choreographed and directed by Australian Jack Gilkison choreographed and directed the show.  He and his dance partner of 35 years, and now one of his co-producers, Peta Roby are champion ballroom dancers.    

Whether ballroom dancing is sport or art remains a question for the Olympic panels, as they decide which new sports to admit.  It was hard to see this as art, but this reviewer has no problem as seeing it as highly enjoyable entertainment and worth the money to see popular dancing.  It is taken to a very high technical and athletic level, with production values one would expect in a very good show, but it is perhaps more suited to Las Vegas than Broadway.

The one flaw was the singer Vonzell Solomon’s mic, which left her voice strident.  Both she and particularly Peter Saul had good voices.

The one last number was a recreation of Tina Turner’s dance moves in “Proud Mary.”  The dance itself was rousing, but the center, Tina Turner, was missing.  However, this show remains dancing for the joy of dancing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


By Nancy Condit

Top: Two Opening Night goers watch the Hartel Dance Group perform in the lobby of the Cox Convention Center last New Year’s Eve.  Photos by Nancy Condit
Bottom:  The Hartel Dance Group danced “Morphus” New Year’s Eve in the Cox          Convention  Centeer Center lobby while roars from the Thunder basketball game could occasionally be heard from upstairs.  A small but attentive group gathered to watch the performance.


By Nancy Condit

New Year’s Eve at Hartel Dance Group performed excerpts from three dances as “Morphus.”  Later performances were scheduled for 8 and   Stationed in the lobby of the Cox Convention Center, with floor to ceiling windows opening on Sheridan and cars going by in the early evening, the company, under the artistic direction of Austin Hartel, progressed well in their dance from “The Yellow Dance,” to “Vastus Sylvus,” to an excerpt from “In the Garden.”

When Hartel presented the newly formed company in its first performance last April at Rose State, he said that two of the things he wanted the company to do was performance art, and dance that appealed to families.  With this performance his company has done that in the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s family friendly Opening Night of 2010.  While roars from the Thunder basketball game rolled down the escalators and musicians played within earshot, dancers clad in layers of leotards and with bare feet – yes, modern or contemporary dance, attracted a modest audience of adults who stayed to watch, wearing long flaming pink or green wigs or not.

With perhaps no more than six or eight feet between the dancers and audience, which stood or sat on the floor, people had an immediate and unhindered view of the dance and  the dancers’ art.  The changing room was choreographed into the piece, with no place but the dance floor to change, as one leotard effectively gave way to another. 

In “The Yellow Dance” the six women dancers were clad in shiny bright yellow helmeted unitards that connected each dancer with long bands leading to the next dancer.  This way the dancers could react and resist each other’s movements times six partners instead of the more usual times two partners, and use more space between them.  It was lovely.

Caption: Dancers form a square by balancing on each others’ shoulders and feet in Hartel Dance Group’s “Morphus” last New Year’s Eve.  These types of shapes are a trademark of the style of Pilobolus, for whom Hartel was a co-choreographer for five years.

This costume gave way to the aqua or green batik patterned helmeted unitards of the imaginary creatures of “Vastus Sylvus.”  The dance also used the dancers’ voices, barking like seals, to communicate.  At one point one dancer knelt, another leapt into her outstretched arms, and the kneeling dancer tossed her over her head.

After stripping into white short legged tank top unitards, the group performed an excerpt from one of their signature pieces – “In the Garden.”  Dancing to “In-a-Godda Da Vida” – which does mean “in the garden of Eden,” the six dancers appeared to walk hesitatingly with a two step walk in two opposing circles with heads, arms, legs, hands and arms at angles.  There was nothing fluid here, just two circles of three dancers walking in opposing directions who gave the impression of more than six dancers.  In one move, one partner lay on the floor with her arms straight up, and the second on top put her hands – straight-armed – on the other’s shoulders. They each connected again at their toes and feet, forming a square – an effective shape.

Caption: In an excerpt from a signature dance of Hartel Dance Group, “In the Garden,” three of the company – which is all women – stand on the lower backs of other company members, and circle slowly. 

Company dancers were Nicolette Battle, Olivia Martin, Becca Schmedt, Thyrsa Da Rosa Hartel, Rachel Hendricks, and Lynna Schneider.

This was a nice beginning to Opening Night.


By Nancy Condit

Across from the Opening Night information desk staffed by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City staff and volunteers were students of Dana Helms, The Upside-Down Performing Artist.

            A seven year old artist works in pastels on Opening Night under the
            direction of his teacher The Upside Down Performing Artist Dana Helms.  "There
            is so much pressure on artists that I believe that having even children creating
            art upside down relieves a lot of that pressure."  Three children, from seven to
            eleven years old, demonstrated her theory in the lobby of the Cox Convention
            Center by the Christmas trees.  Photo by Nancy Condit
            Another upside down artist, eight years old, prefers to work on his pastel on
            the floor on Opening Night.  The three students concentrated so
            thoroughly on their drawing that they appeared to uphold Helms idea that drawing
            upside down relieves a lot of the pressure artists, even as children, feel to
            perform.  Photo by Nancy Condit

                                 Waiting for the Flaming Lips Freakout.


By Nancy Condit

It was louder and brighter than the 60’s, but The Flaming Lips New Years’ Eve Freakout concert was still love, peace, rock and psychedelic.
People stopped strangers on the stairs to say, “Have you ever seen so many happy people?”  They high fived people as they walked to and from seats or concessions.
And they dressed up for the concert.  Ask a man dressed as a penguin where he was from, and he’d say, “A group of my friends and I flew in from Alaska for the concert.”  “Really?”  “Noo,” and he laughed.
Gentle silliness and patience filled the crowd, dressed up for New Year’s Eve, or costumed for a concert.  We even saw a bearded, and robed man crowned with twisted branches.
Wayne Coyne came out about or to say what was going to happen, including “Somewhere around we’re going to count down and then we’re going to spend some minutes in the love.”  This would be followed by the first playing of the Lips  album “The Soft Bulletin.”
An LED screen was the backdrop with a rainbow of primary red, blue and green bands, giving way to the outline of a dancing naked  woman outlined in red against a yellow-gold background.  Yellow stars resolved to her lower torso, and echo lines pulsed to the music as she sat and the band entered from her womanliness.
Love and reassurance that other people were lonely – you were not alone – was the name of the evening as the crowd roared its approval.
“You guys, how I love you, and I hope we can do this forever.”
And again, “I love you guys.  I love you guys.  I love you guys.  There’s a lot of other things you could be doing tonight.”
“Think of those who couldn’t be here tonight, watching this on their computer” – the concert was streamed live.
A guy sitting above this reporter, four rows from the roof, kept yelling, “Do you hear me?”  There was no way he could, from one end of the arena to the other, but, when he yelled his loudest, Coyne had paused, and said, “I hear you man.”  Was it acoustics or coincidence or someone else sitting much closer yelling the same thing? It was the only time during the concert that Coyne answered that question. 
Coyne entered a clear huge bubble and rolled in it onto the upstretched arms and hands of the crowd waiting on the arena floor.  Strobes and arena stage lights, with emerald green
strobes created beams of light off a giant mirrored demi-ball in the arena ceiling.

Coyne’s smiling face, surrounded by good looking greying curls, came on the screen in an extreme close-up.  For one number we saw a green bloodshot eye red-rimmed eye.  In another, there were rockets from what appeared to be ‘60’s news footage, ending in rockets that failed and crash landed, hurting no one.
As the countdown to neared, Coyne yelled, “The balloons wouldn’t wait” as three foot in diameter ones rolled down from the stage side seats and the standing crowd played with them.  We all counted down to .

It was quite a concert, quite a performance, and quite a pary.

c. Nancy Condit