Q&A with Slim Cook
Internationally recognized sculptor returns to Tulsa with a solo exhibit.
Courtesy Slim Cook
Internationally recognized sculptor James "Slim" Cook got his first paying job at 12-years-old — air-brushing designs on Harley gas tanks. A Tulsa native, he grew up immersed in Route 66 car culture and then studied art at the University of Oklahoma. He earned a master’s degree at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania, and then moved to New York City and began working as an artist.
He has sold many small sculptures to private collections in New York, London, and Tokyo. Some of his “larger than life” sculptures are on display at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham, the Riverhead Free Library, Sachem Public Library and the Village of Greenport.
Cook recently moved his art studio from NYC to Tulsa after more than 20 years away.
His first solo exhibition in Tulsa, entitled “Digital Divas,” premiered at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center on September 7. The exhibit will be on display through October 2.
This will be your first exhibit to deal openly with LGBTQ issues. Can you elaborate on what this means to you?
All my life I have been intrigued by sexuality and its many manifestations, but most of my professional career as an artist has been commission work for other people or institutions. So, subject matter was not entirely up to me. Now I’m in a position to do whatever I want and this is the art that I want to do; it parallels my own personal sexual explorations.
I hid my interest in unconventional sexuality for most of my life and I regret that. Silence and a lack of push-back is part of what has allowed the LGBTQ community to be persecuted for so long. I’m going to do whatever I can to help end that.
What brought you back to Tulsa after so long?
A few years ago, I came back to Tulsa for my high school reunion. I saw what was happening with the restoration of historic neighborhoods around downtown and I thought, ‘I need to be a part of this Tulsa Renaissance.’
What are your plans for bringing your studio to Tulsa?
I’ve acquired a house in Reservoir Hill just north of downtown that I’m restoring to use as a studio. I plan on maintaining a permanent presence here.
What’s something you’ve missed about Tulsa that other cities don’t have?
You have access to everything here. There are many wonderful things in New York, but unless you are wealthy much of it is out of reach. Also, the traffic situation here is so much better than anywhere else I've lived. It’s great not to have all the traffic jams and aggressive driving.
What do you love about the art scene here?
I like the energy of an emerging scene, I like being on the frontier. I was one of the artists that pioneered the Brooklyn art scene and I feel a similar energy here. Also, with the restaurants, clubs, galleries, and art venues so close together you can walk from one thing to another and you can always find parking.