Three Plaza District art gallery owners have combined their knowledge and skill to create Plaza Gallery Group in an effort to expand their exposure through Oklahoma City and beyond. They also will work together to coordinate exhibit dates and events while advocating for the arts in Oklahoma.
Kasum Contemporary Fine Art, DNA Galleries and Graphite Elements and Design each reside within the same block of the district, which spans NW 16th Street from Classen Boulevard to Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We want to be able to support each other and provide more opportunities to people to immerse themselves in art and learn more about art,” said Tony Morton, owner of Kasum.
Plaza District is probably best known for its monthly Live! on the Plaza art walks, which happen the second Friday of each month and have drawn progressively larger crowds as they’ve expanded artist participation and food, drink and entertainment options.
Cayla Lewis, Plaza District Association executive director, said the organization estimates 5,000-6,000 guests flood the two-block area each month for the event.
This welcome success is the result of a lot of community coordination and business participation. Live! on the Plaza heavily focuses on food and entertainment, said DNA Galleries co-owner Amanda Bradway, and Plaza Gallery Group hopes to help maintain and support the district’s lively mix of art and artists.
So it’s finding ways to complement that success while giving local residents and artists opportunities to return when things have slowed down a bit.
“I think people who appreciate and like to patronize the arts and purchase art … want to stand back from the art, which you can’t do if it’s super crowded,” Bradway said.
Morton added that while crowds are fun and Live! on the Plaza exposes a lot of people to their galleries and brings in many newcomers, repeat gallery visitors expressed a desire to return for art-focused events that allow a little more room to enjoy the galleries — and to park.
Plaza Gallery Group founders said that interest bodes well for the district, galleries and locals.
“We want to be able to support each other and provide more opportunities for people to immerse themselves in art and learn more about art,” Morton said.
One of the group’s first decisions was to create a monthly, “second Thursday” art walk, featuring coordinated shows between the galleries.
“We want to cater to that particular person who wants to come down here and enjoy going out to eat but not deal with all the crowds,” J.T. Cochran, co-owner of Graphite, said.
Graphite co-owner Benny Jacobs agreed.
“Working collectively as a group gives exposure to the other[s],” he said. “Every gallery is different, and every gallery has a different following.”
Plus, said DNA Galleries co-owner Dylan Bradway, visitors can park close and take their time visiting with featured artists.
“It’s a good night,” he said. “It just gives them a whole other reason to come down.”
Second Thursday art walk promotion launched last week as the three galleries rolled out their gift-giving-themed holiday exhibits featuring ornaments, toys and small works, said Plaza Gallery Group spokeswoman Crystal Murphy, also DNA Galleries’ retail manager.
Each gallery owner seemed happy to solidify an organic relationship that has been forming naturally over the last couple of years.
“We take care of each other in this community. You have to support locally,” Murphy said. “We just all have to support each other. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
Print Headline: Slow down, The owners of three arts district galleries work together to spotlight local art and artists with Plaza Gallery Group.