Planning is everything, as the saying goes. When leaders of Oklahomans for Equality (OkEq) were drawing up their wish list for the ideal building to purchase and renovate in 2005, they included something in the plans that most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality centers don’t have.
“We have so many talented artists in this part of the country,” OkEq Executive Director Toby Jenkins says. “We felt it was necessary to provide a place to showcase their wonderful artwork created right here in Oklahoma.”
From that wish list came the permanent art gallery inside OkEq’s home, the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. On the first Thursday of each month, a new artist is featured with an opening reception.
“The waiting list to be shown in the art gallery averages around 18 months now,” Jenkins says. “That’s a testament to the quality of pieces and number of people who stop through to view and purchase the artwork.”
With planning comes foresight. There’s another reason the art gallery was created. The variety of artists, both LGBT and straight, bring different types of crowds into the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Many art gallery attendees have never been to the Equality Center before, yet they heard about the artists showing and planned a visit. This provides a unique opportunity for OkEq to connect with different parts of the Tulsa community and make new friends who leave with the realization that LGBT people are really no different from anyone else.
Another unique feature of the art gallery: It’s run entirely by volunteers. This dedicated committee interviews potential artists, installs and removes showings, schedules special events and hosts the First Thursday receptions.
“This gallery operates so efficiently and so professionally, artists brag how wonderful our gallery committee treated them,” Jenkins says.
The committee chairs are OkEq board adviser David Hoot and well-known Tulsa artist Allie Jenson. For location and more details, visit www.okeq.org.
In connection to Pride Month, the art gallery expands from its normal walls into what’s called the MOREcolor Art Exhibition. More than 65 visual artists will be featured from June 14-17. This year’s opening night, from 6-9 p.m., Thursday, June 14, will have additional artistic features, including a contemporary dance installation by Tulsa Modern Movement (TuMM), plus the Body Art Runway show and much more. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information and details, please visit www.morecolorart.com.