By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Peering through a downtown Seventh Avenue window near the back of the Teubner & Associates building on Main Street, a bright metallic sculpture twirls into view — a teasing metaphor for Oklahoma State University's brightest orange making a stake in downtown Stillwater.
“The opening of the Postal Plaza as an extension of OSU integrates the university with the heart of Stillwater — downtown,” said longtime Stillwater businessman Russ Teubner. “The art museum is a tribute to Burns Hargis' vision and Louise Siddons for making it real — she knows how to make it happen.”
Siddons, an OSU art professor, is leading the renovation of the Postal Plaza offices on South Husband Street into a gallery space for OSU's permanent art collection.
“It's a substantial collection with many valuable items donated through the years,” Siddons said.
She has been cataloging and reviewing the pieces to get the collection ready for the public eye. The space will also house traveling exhibits with an opening planned for October 2013. OSU’s collection of 2,000 objects is scattered in buildings across the campus with the majority of the pieces in storage. The diverse collection, with significant works from around the globe ranging from African sculptures and Indian textiles, has two pieces by Salvador Dali. As curator, Siddons is coordinating which pieces will be displayed together. The new space will represent more than 6,000 square feet which will add tremendously to the approximately 2,000 square feet available at Gardiner Art Gallery on campus.
As concrete was pouring in the alley off South Husband Avenue in December, Siddons and Construction Project Manager Jay Cheves of OSU's Long Range Facilities Planning, predicted the museum will be right on schedule setting the scene for the arts community outlook in 2013.
To compliment OSU's claim into the downtown scene, Teubner hopes to open a reception venue in 2013 within his building which is the site of the old Aggie Theatre. His art collection has developed over the years within the business offices and a public space would offer the community a way to enjoy the eclectic mix of well-known and up-and-coming artists which have attracted Teubner's attention. Teubner is in the business of integrating software where organizations need to tie together new and old or existing technology. What he has done with his Seventh Avenue and Main Street property over 20 years exemplifies his corporate work in taking a very old building and renovating the space to work with the contemporary business world. His art collection, along with refurbished architectural antiques, tells employees and customers alike the world is bigger than where we are — but some of his favorite finds from artist Gail Perazzini and others were made at the annual Stillwater Arts Festival.
“The city will host the arts festival downtown again this year in April,” said Business Improvement District Coordinator Amy Jo Frazier. As the longest running festival in Stillwater, the Downtown Arts Festival has doubled in size within the last couple of years garnering major honors including the 2012 Oklahoma and Tourism and Recreation Department Redbud Award for the city's collaboration with university activities the same weekend and the 2010 National Parks and Recreation Association Award of Excellence. Another public statue, “Childhood Memories,” will be unveiled at Chris Salmon Plaza before the arts festival opens in the spring, Frazier said. The display of visual arts also features local talent performing live which Stillwater Community Center Manager Stephanie Gudgel said we'll be seeing more of throughout the area.
“From Zanotti's to the Community Center to the Washington Street club scene to Tumbleweeds, many musicians are planning live performances this year,” Gudgel said.
A free special literary music presentation April 13 will partner with the Stillwater Public Library's One Book One Community reading of “Bound for Glory” culminating in a two scene, one act play, “Time Changes Everything” about a fictional meeting between Woody Guthrie and Bob Wills, Gudgel said. Red Dirt Rangers John Cooper and Brian Piccolo will play Guthrie and Wills.
“Our Red Dirt musicians are a strong tourist attraction as one of the top five things people say they want to do when they travel is to see live music,” said Cristy Morrison, executive director of the Stillwater Convention and Visitors Bureau. She said the Gypsy Cafe which features Red Dirt musicians in venues all over town for a weekend will continue for the third year in 2013.
“It's an exciting time for Stillwater as we work together to continue developing the arts scene,” Morrison said.