Monday, December 3, 2012

Raise Money for OAI while you Shop!

Did you know you can raise money for the Oklahoma Arts Institute just by shopping online? More than 1,300 top retailers, including Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us, Best Buy, Apple, Gap and more will donate a percentage of your purchase to the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Just go to, designate us as the cause you support, and then click through to your favorite store. You pay nothing extra - and you can even save money! GoodShop lists thousands of money-saving coupons and free shipping offers. Or, add GoodShop’s toolbar to your browser and your purchases will count even if you forget to go to GoodShop first! Please spread the word, and happy shopping!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Toy Quartz Mountain?

OFAI photography faculty member Ben Long snapped this picture of Quartz Mountain during the last Fall Arts Institute weekend. It looks like a model version of the resort, but it's not! Not only that, there's no post-production or doctoring of the image. Ben explains:

The photo was created with a special type of lens called a tilt/shift. You can tilt and slide different parts of the lens to either correct perspective, or throw depth of field way out of whack.

When we see something with really shallow depth of field, we immediately assume it's small, because when you look at something up close, you don't see a lot of depth of field. So, by compressing the DOF to a thin slice across the middle, our brain interprets the resulting image as a miniature.

 I just climbed up behind the amphitheater with that lens. There's no post-production on that image. You can also shoot video through it, which is cool.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quartz Mountain Converts

Fair warning to our friends who hail from the coasts – we’re going to have a little bit of fun with you. ;)

As you probably know, every summer and fall artists from across the U.S. and beyond teach at Quartz Mountain. Most have never been to Oklahoma before, and almost none have been to Quartz. All are usually a bit apprehensive at the idea of teaching at an arts camp in the middle of nowhere in a state known more for its football programs than for its arts scene.

Each faculty member arrives with different expectations; some are thrilled at the prospect of spending time in a beautiful setting thirty miles away from the nearest drive-through, but for others, Quartz Mountain is just a little too “natural.” The staff often gets quizzed about exactly what types of bugs, reptiles, and animals might be lurking around the lodge.

My favorite faculty members are always the ones who undergo a complete evolution at Quartz Mountain – the ones who arrive fearful of the fauna, desperate for a Starbucks, and uttering “in New York…” every other sentence. But give them two weeks in southwest Oklahoma, and they are extolling the deliciousness of chicken friend steak, proudly sporting a new piece of western wear, and asking when they can come back and teach again. And then, they utter our favorite phrase – “Why doesn’t my state have something like this?”

Certainly, we wish every state had an Oklahoma Arts Institute. While there are similar programs in other states, there’s nothing like OSAI anywhere in the world. So while we wish we weren’t quite so unique – every artist deserves to participate in a program like ours -- we do feel gratified when our faculty recognize just how special our programs, location, and of course, our students, truly are.

We’ve said it before, but it’s impossible to experience Quartz Mountain without leaving a little bit of your heart behind. Until we can gather at Quartz again, under those modest hills we call mountains, please keep in touch.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meet Bobby

Today, we'll meet the third in our trio of new Oklahoma Arts Institute staff members.  Bobby Lee recently joined our permanent staff as the Public Relations & Programs Specialist.

Bobby is a lifelong resident of Oklahoma City with many years of experience in PR and multimedia production. He is also a visual artist, best known for his figurative woodcuts and linoleum cut prints. Before joining OAI, Bobby managed exhibitions and other operations for JRB Art at The Elms.  Bobby spent two summers at Quartz Mountain as an OSAI counselor and two autumns as an OFAI participant. Soon thereafter, he began designing promotional materials for OAI on a freelance basis. Barricaded in their Oklahoma City office, Bobby refused to leave, and OAI had no choice but to add him to their permanent staff. Bobby has a BA in philosophy with a minor in political science from the University of Central Oklahoma. Among other things, he enjoys playing musical instruments, making movies, reading the news, gardening, and chasing various animals around his backyard. Bobby is an Eagle Scout and can tie knots faster than you can.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bash the Trash: Composing over Decomposing

“Don’t throw that out, I can use it!”

If you’re like me, you have trouble throwing anything away. Boxes, bottles, rubber bands, scraps of wood, you name it: each item is a friend, sharing fond memories of projects gone by and filling us with inspiration of all the things it could someday become. Unfortunately, these companions can sometimes pile up and outstay their welcome, like a slumber party that never ends. TV shows like Hoarders have brought attention to the more extreme examples of this affliction, and have motivated myself and others to thin out our treasures, pare down our dreams, and send them to the landfill.

But for the next week, we can hoard with impunity, knowing that all of our junk will be put to good use in the very near future. “Bash the Trash,” taught by renowned composer and educator John Bertles, will show us how to transform the world’s rubbish into beautiful music.  John will teach us how we can use the science of sound and sustainability to design and craft increasingly complex instruments out of the things we were so smart to keep, and then, of course, write and perform with our new instruments!  

The class is next week at Quartz Mountain, during the second week of our Fall Arts Institute. Learn more and register here:

Here’s a video from John’s website:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet Chantry

The Oklahoma Arts Institute recently added three new members to the permanent staff.  We've already met Michelle Moseley, Development Specialist and Grantwriter, and today, we're meeting Chantry Banks, Office Manager and Executive Assistant.

Chantry Banks has served OAI as an OSAI acting liaison and counselor coordinator, and he is excited to join the permanent staff. A native of Hammon, Oklahoma, he received his bachelor of arts degree in acting from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and attended the graduate program at The University of Central Florida in Orlando. Chantry’s first role was that of Tom Turkey in Tom Turkey’s Thanksgiving in second grade. He has worked with Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, City of Maples Repertory Theatre, and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. Chantry also has a successful sewing business, creating quilted handbags and hemming clothes for his niece and nephew. An avid gardener, Chantry had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year.

Welcome, Chantry!  Next week, we'll meet Bobby Lee, PR and Programs Specialist.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm a Lifer

I’m an Oklahoma Arts Institute lifer.  You might be one, too.  For many of us, Quartz Mountain has played a part in almost every stage of our lives.  I attended the Summer Institute as an orchestra student for three years, spent one year as an OSAI counselor, and I’m now in my eighth year as a member of the permanent staff.  I’ve spent twelve summers at Quartz Mountain, meaning I’ve had a longer relationship with the Oklahoma Arts Institute than I’ve had with almost anything or anyone.

But I’m certainly not the only lifer.  My fellow staff member, Stephanie Currey, spent five years as an OSAI student and recently celebrated her tenth anniversary on the permanent staff.  Our President and CEO, Julie Cohen, is the first OSAI alum to lead the organization.  Our Board of Directors includes OSAI alums and parents of alums.  Then there are OSAI section faculty Virginia Sircy and Michael Murray, who have served so much time with OAI they should probably be released for good behavior – 25 years and counting.

Every year, we meet OSAI alumni whose own children are now attending the summer program.  We see summer alums return and take Fall Arts Institute workshops, and fall alums who become OSAI counselors.  And let’s not forget the couples who were bitten by the Quartz Mountain “Love Bug,” like former counselors Ben and Sara Collins, who fell in love at Quartz and later married there.

What role has Quartz Mountain played in your life?  How many OAI programs have you attended?  Share your story in the comments section below.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tyler Ray, OSAI 2012
Please join us for
the Oklahoma Arts Institute's
Tour de Quartz Reception

Gilcrease Museum
1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road
Tulsa, OK 74127
Sunday, September 30th
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Please join us Sunday, September 30 for a come-and-go reception honoring the talented 2012 OSAI printmaking and photography students! Enjoy light refreshments, tour the gallery, and visit with OAI students, board members, and supporters. The reception is free and open to the public. If you can't make it to the reception, the Tour de Quartz is on display at the Gilcrease now through October 7. Click here for more information about the Tour de Quartz.
The Tour de Quartz is sponsored by:


New OAI Staff Members: Meet Michelle

The Oklahoma Arts Institute is pleased to welcome three new people to our permanent staff!  Over the next few weeks, we’ll profile new staff members Michelle Moseley (Development Specialist & Grantwriter), Bobby Lee (PR & Programs Specialist), and Chantry Banks (Executive Assistant & Office Manager).  All three have significant backgrounds in the arts and will bring a variety of valuable skills to the permanent staff. 

Today, let’s meet Michelle.  Michelle received her BFA in studio art and a master’s in education with an emphasis in art from the University of Central Oklahoma.  She’s currently pursuing a master’s in museum studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Michelle loves modern and contemporary art, and in her own work, she focuses on painting and photography.

Michelle spent a year at the St. Louis Art Museum as a Romare Bearden Graduate Minority Fellow, and then served as a Museum Educator in the programming department at the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida, where she oversaw all education and public programming for the museum.

Michelle and her husband Ambre recently returned to Oklahoma City, where they live with their dog, a Pomeranian named Ali.  In her free time, Michelle enjoys reading, yoga, and spending time with family. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poetry Workshop with George Bilgere!

Join award-winning poet George Bilgere for a weekend retreat in poetry at Quartz Mountain!  Held October 11 – 14, you’ll renew your creativity while connecting with other artists and enjoying the beautiful Quartz Mountain resort in autumn.  New this year, Oklahoma college educators receive 50% off the price of tuition, and members of Oklahoma writers’ groups receive 20% off!

Whether you are a beginning poet or have written and published poems for years, you will enjoy George’s workshop. The Pushcart Prize-winner will help you become a better reader and writer of poetry. And if you happen to be a teacher, you’ll learn practices and techniques that will help you teach and present poetry more effectively in the classroom. You’ll write poems based on specific assignments each day. The poems will then be discussed in a friendly workshop environment. We will talk about what works well in your poems and what strategies might help make your work stronger. We’ll also read poems from a variety of modern and contemporary poets. At the end of the course, you will be a better writer and teacher of poetry, and you’ll also have a larger sense of the contemporary American poetry scene.

Oklahoma college and university educators can attend for a total cost of $315.50, and members of writers’ groups can attend for $490. This price includes all meals and lodging in a shared room. Private rooms can be reserved for an additional $100. More information and online registration is available at:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Full Scholarships Still Available
Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain 

Searching for creative ideas to enrich your classroom, energize your students, and enhance learning?  Then join us at the beautiful Quartz Mountain resort for a four-day workshop that will recharge your teaching and give you new skills, lesson plans, and ideas!  

Public school teachers can receive full scholarships for the workshop “Special Needs: Making Music – Links to Learning,” held November 1 – 4. You’ll explore a variety of traditional songs, chants, and singing games and build simple homemade musical instruments from natural or recycled materials.  Everything you do will be engaging and fun and can be used to promote learning for students of all abilities.  No musical experience is required!  Taught by Deborah Stuart and Will Cabell from New Hampshire, the workshop will fulfill 18 hours of professional development credit.

Scholarships are provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and private donors.  All meals and lodging are included with tuition.  More information and online registration is available at:


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Something for Everyone at OFAI

Think you have to be great at art, or at least experienced, to enjoy a Fall Arts Institute workshop?  Think again!  This fall, over half our workshops are open to true beginners or novices. 

As a kid, was your macaroni artwork always the worst in the class?  When you handed your mom a drawing, did she say "Awwww, it's pretty!  What is it?"  Then consider taking Richard Hull's workshop, "Drawing for Beginners," November 1 - 4.

In this workshop, we'll use perceptual drawing exercises to address how we see, and memory drawing exercise to understand how our perception is affected by memory.  We'll engage in a wide range of drawing techniques, both additive and subtractive. Whether these exercises lead to abstraction or representation, the ultimate goal will be to make something you never thought you would.

Born in Oklahoma City, Richard Hull now lives and works in Chicago.  He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1977 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In 1979, he received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While still in graduate school, he had his first one-person show in New York at the Phyllis Kind Gallery. Since that time, Hull has had more than 40 one-person shows. His paintings may be found in many private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, the Neuberger Museum of Art in Westchester. New York, and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He is represented in Chicago by Western Exhibitions Gallery.

Enrollment for Richard's workshop begins Monday, August 20 at

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

OFAI Featured Faculty: Connie Imboden

Connie Imboden

Baltimore, Maryland

Connie Imboden will teach the Fall Arts Institute "Digital Photography: Illusions" at Quartz Mountain, October 11 - 14.  Connie is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Bibliothèque Nationales in Paris, as well as in many other public and private collections throughout Europe and the Americas. Imboden has exhibited her photographs in an extensive range of group and solo shows at galleries and museums throughout the United States, South America, Europe, and China. Imboden teaches and inspires colleagues and students alike in her quest to push the photographic medium to its highest level. She currently teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where her experience as a photographer began. Imboden has served as an instructor at workshops around the world, including The Maine Photographic Workshops and the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in France.

If you attend Connie's workshop, you'll explore illusions.  Illusions are fascinating, and working with illusions in photography can be a very interesting way of working with visual language. The power and danger of illusions is that we see them as absolute truth. We trust our eyes -- “I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” The class is about ways of exploring, discovering, developing, and utilizing the influence of illusions beyond mere tricks of seeing to compelling and poetic means of communication.  You'll employ illusionistic techniques through assignments, discussions, and critiques. The course is open to anyone with a basic knowledge of their camera’s operations.

Connie taught photography at the 2011 Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, and we are excited to welcome her back to Quartz Mountain!  Click here to meet all the OFAI faculty, or learn more about the Fall Arts Institute.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Discounts on Fall Arts Institute Tuition!

Do you have a digital camera and no idea how to use it?  Do you have a great idea for a children’s book?  Have you ever wanted to try your hand at painting, drawing, or printmaking?  Then head to Quartz Mountain this fall for an all-inclusive four-day retreat at the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute (OFAI).  Workshops are offered for all ability levels, from true beginners to professional artists.  New this year, private school educators receive a 50% discount on tuition, and members of certain arts organizations receive 20% discounts.  Public school educators still receive full scholarships to OFAI.
OFAI participants spend their days receiving instruction from nationally renowned artists from across the U.S.  In addition to learning about their chosen art form, participants can attend presentations by faculty artists in a variety of artistic disciplines.  In the evenings, participants can take advantage of open studio time, attend an elective activity, or simply relax and enjoy the getaway.
OFAI is held at the Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center in southwest Oklahoma. An ideal location for arts immersion, the resort offers the amenities and comforts of a fine hotel inside a scenic state park.  OFAI is an all-inclusive experience, with all meals and lodging included with tuition (alcoholic beverages not included).  OFAI occurs October 11 – 14, October 25 – 28, and November 1 – 4, with enrollment beginning Monday, August 20. 

New this year, OFAI offers discounts to private school educators and arts supporters, while continuing to provide full scholarships to Oklahoma public school teachers.  Oklahoma private school educators can attend for a total cost of $315.50 ($345.50 for visual arts classes), including all meals and lodging in a shared room.  Members of the 16 arts organizations listed below can attend for a total cost of $490 ($520 for visual arts classes).  Private rooms are an additional $100. 

Current members of the following arts organizations receive a 20% discount:

Allied Arts
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Gilcrease Museum
Goddard Art Center
International Photography Hall of Fame
Lachenmeyer Arts Center
Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center
Oklahoma Community Theatre Association
Oklahoma Camera Club
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition
Philbrook Museum of Art
Ponca City Art Center
Price Tower Arts Center

To see the OFAI schedule, course descriptions, faculty bios, and enrollment information, visit

Friday, June 29, 2012

We All Left Our Hearts at Quartz Mountain

Now that OSAI is over, all the kindred spirits that made Quartz Mountain so special have scattered on the four winds.  Students have returned to big cities and tiny towns across Oklahoma, and faculty, staff, and counselors are back in New York, Los Angeles, and many places in between. 

The PAC is silent and dark, the classrooms are locked and empty, and the CafĂ© is back to the usual quiet clusters of locals.  At home, we find ourselves wondering what to do with our free time and telling camp jokes that no one understands.  Now that we’ve caught up on sleep, we feel nostalgic for late night cabin meetings and early morning walks to class. 

It’s jarring to go from our little arts oasis to the real world, with all its demands and distractions.  We miss the close friends we made, and we wonder if they have the same strange, empty feeling we do. 

How can a few glorified hills in the middle of nowhere have such a magnetic pull?  How can one place embrace the spirit, dreams, and passions of so many people?  How can two weeks change your entire life?  

That’s the mystery and the magic of “The Mountain,” and that’s why we all left our hearts at Quartz Mountain.  Until you can return and reclaim it, reminisce, keep in touch, and give back.  #qmrocks

Photo courtesy of McNeese Fitzgerald Associates

Friday, June 22, 2012

 Our guest blogger is Catherine Roberts, PR Counselor.
Today’s blog post will get a trifle sentimental. I’m writing as a former OSAI student, a creative writer from 2006. It’s seldom that I practice my craft these days—I’m a journalist, so I tend to stick to facts. Nothing has compelled me to begin again to write creatively more than returning to Quartz Mountain as a staff member. That’s because the work of the students here—not just in creative writing, but across all the disciplines—inspires. But instead of telling you about it, I’ll let the art speak for itself.

The following poems are the collected works of the OSAI creative writers, composed for inclusion in the centerpieces of the tables during this year’s Visitors’ Day.

let your hands be a resting place for time
and rejoice in the aging of your body

let your skin grow rough from your dances in the wind
and celebrate the grace that will come to crease your eyes
from the depth and frequency of laughter

exalt the blaze of seasons
for you will not fade with the fading of the light

so let your  mind burn and falter
when it is best to fall
revel in the salt of your mistaking
because there is the world to be tasted

taste it

—Alex Rivas

Steeplechase Road

Let there be children who
drink orange soda through sour patch straws
and raise dandelions in Mama’s glass bowls.
Let there be children who
lay rusted pennies to sleep on train tracks
and carry thin copper luckthings on thread.
Let there be children who
weave muddy caskets from grass to send a
friend, bumblebee, down the creek.
Let there be children who
climb electrical towers to watch the sunset
and hold nervous currents at their toes.

—Alison Liu

Let there be a soothing slap of skin parting from the gaudy protection
Of the band-aid decorated with the heroes who fought on
A cartoon you never watched
Let there be a cavity in gravity you’ll miss in ten years
When you can no longer fly on construction paper wings
Instead staring out an office window
Let there be rooms that forget the alphabet
With white washed walls that can no longer spell your name
Let there be water that tastes of his favourite flower which died in the glass
Before your thirst was born.

—An-Li Bogan

Where Petals Go

Let there be an unpaved road
with a field beside it and a sky dunked in pinks and purples until the blue drowned above
Let there be daisies in that field
floating in the grass like spirits tied down with green string
Let there be wind to find the daisy
to touch its face with cooling lips and cherish its petals enough to take
Let there be you to watch the petals like white flames
leaving smoke not allowed to touch the sky
And let there be you to free the last petal that clings like heartbreak
so it can move on to higher things

Let there be another wind to help you do the same

—Brooke R. Busse

Let there be lunch lines and clusters of students with red trays.
Let there be rain and clouds that block the Twin Peeks from view and cast a grey shadow across the Oklahoma Arts Institute,
giving the photography students and their cameras a break from the sun.
Let the acting students sit in the lobby in silence as they memorize monologues.
Let the dancers stretch their legs as the sun drifts through the windows.
Let the Rubix Cube hidden on campus be found before nightfall.
Let it solve itself.
Let me write like the Quartz Mountains that rise up and down against the sky.
Let the mountains fill up with green grasses growing on its sides like grass in a bowl.

—Candace Osterhout

Let there always be caramels in your grandmother’s glass bowl.
Let there be a fat cat to sleep in your lap,
and an old dog to lay at your feet.
Let there be lemonade summers and hot chocolate winters.
Let there never be a time when you can’t come home
and sit on your childhood swing.
Let there be Snuggies, ramen noodles and mystery novels.
Let there be days in which you just do nothing.
Let there be sunlight to wake you up some mornings.
Let there be scary movies and friends to watch them with.
Let there be rain.
But most of all, let there be medicine to heal your body,
and art to heal your soul.

—Erin McCoy

Let there be quartz and people who keep the door open for those
coming out of a crowded concert.
Let there be daisies and marigolds and azaleas.
Let there be jazzy trombones, wrapped Andes mints,
and cats with question mark tails.

May there be casual hellos and soothing cellos.
Give us fountain pens and fantasy books to feel through.
May there be homemade Valentine cards.

Let there be mothers, water,
fathers; let there be children who sing in showers
and men who rent tuxedos.
Let there be the color brown.
Let there be breath.

—Giselle Willis

Let there be hands to create music, words, ideas.
And people will know and invite the owners of the hands to a cradle of stone and foliage.
And the trees will bow and the rocks will tremble in their presence, because the hands
will make them again.
Let the does graze below the bridge on the uncut grass, knowing that no hands will harm
them, and they will be alive.
And the hands will meet other hands, shake, and flourish in their craft; create a beat to
dance and live to.
And the hands are surely placed by the words of a woodsman, encouraging them to
live deliberately.
Let heroes, heavens, and spirits of Helios flow from their fingertips and erupt in song,
heard as far into the universe as the dust of Saturn’s rings.
The hands will find new ways and the people will come to see.

—Madisyn Bowen

Let the doe ever wander green meadows where the dandelions go
Like lions without teeth or claws, each seeds small parachute ready to break its fall.
Silence of the meadows as a haven where the heavens see foals knobby knees.
Let this be sacred ground where nature comes to lie while earth whispers lullabies.
The brook where the doe and her fawn pause to drink,
The shuffling of grass and of leaves in trees and they rustle in the breeze.
Let these tender songs ever comfort those forlorn, the lonely and the lowly,
When the constancy of morning like the certainty of night are to never cease
And let green remain.

—Meredith Winn

Why Do We Let Them Let?

Let—to allow—it is a word of a different color than timshel—thou mayest—less gracious, more furious, a salt-green flexing rather than its nebulous deep. It is not the game of command, ask permission, and the generous timshel—it is, as in, let us go—let us ride our bikes like horses and tilt at the telephone poles. Let us build our medicines, locomotives, bridges—
Let us—
Let us spring furiously from the chthonian body of our home, go!
Go! Rocket—let go gravity—
Burn you trillion cosmic lanterns, spin, other earths. We see you if the gods will
Let us—

—Erin Fuller

Let there be dirt- crumbling, warm, soft
smelling of growth,
pushing forward new life, taking on old.
Let there be silent mornings
alone with a dainty tea pot steeping
and a simple saucer of browned bread.
Allow words to spill forth from pens- an outpouring
 transforming and transformed.

Allow there to be pages, strong enough to cut
 and carry as a vehicle the words,
taking them where they are necessary.
Let there be sound, a taxi bleating, a sprinkler clicking rhythmically along,
 a murmur as  trees converse with one another, a cacophony saying please.
Allow there to be grass, a cushion to lie on,
and the residents building in their own universe.

—Bethany McLemore

Remember your favorite word and remember who gave it to you, precious as any physical gift.
Remember the books and people that changed how ideas appear to you, outside insight is an invaluable thing.
Remember the smell of breakfast, mornings spent among the rustle of readallaboutit’s and the feeling of time spread around you.
Remember your favorite pair of shoes. Impractical, outrageously priced, your mother clucking her tongue, not this time.
Remember your hands, they are the first to meet a new friend, everything is written in your hands.
Remember how much time you spent trying to please others, think about how often you played the kazoo. Weigh the importance of each.
Remember the first time you were told to grow up. Act your age.
Now forget it.

—Tori Hack

Let there be Orwells
and Hemingways
Fitzgeralds Shakespeares
Dickinsons Poe

Let there be contradictions
And then let there be words
too simple
for simple.

Let there be poems while I’m brushing my teeth
And stanzas while I sleep
And meter in my shower
And syllables
In every moment
That words
Can barely touch

Let there be Holy Sundays
And let there be Sundays

I set out to write the
King James Holy Bible
And this is how
The words have settled.

            —Evan Rathjen

You can hear more from the Creative Writing class during ONSTAGE Weekend performances. Creative Writing performs tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Our guest blogger today is improvisation assistant Caroline Horton.

            As the improvisation assistant, I was able to see a side of the students that most faculty, staff, and counselors weren’t able to experience. The students were able to take a break from their disciplines, let loose, and most importantly, laugh.

            Regina Saisi, a native San Franciscan, has made the trek to Quartz Mountain for years now to teach the improv classes. Regina is a part of a three-person traveling improv troupe based out of San Francisco.  She has been in the improv theater world for more than twenty-five years and has no intentions of quitting anytime soon.

            There were three improv sessions every day, each comprised of students from different disciplines: choir, ballet and modern; acting, creative writing, drawing/printmaking, and photography; and orchestra. It was a delight not only to see the students lose all inhibitions and have some fun, but also to see the different disciplines working together. Each group developed their own sort of improv “personality.” The choir, ballet, and modern group were completely different than the acting, drawing/printmaking, creative writing, and photography group, from sense of humor to subject matter.

            Regina would sometimes tailor the exercises to fit each group. This either meant using an exercise that would be in the comfort zone of the disciplines in that group or completely out of the comfort zone. In this way, she was able to challenge the students and stimulate their imaginations. Men would play women and women would play men, creative writers would sing, and choir students would dance. The students learned that anything goes in improv and the goofier and less inhibited, the better.

            There were struggles in the first few classes. Students were afraid of not being funny or being made fun of for what they chose to do. Regina made all at ease with an exercise where every student had to go to one another, throw their hands in the air, and yell, “I FAILED!” She taught that it is okay to fail, everyone fails, and it is just part of the process. After this exercise, the students were more comfortable and relaxed with their peers. This made for an even better time.

            A favorite exercise across all groups was a role-playing one. In this exercise, two students have to explain to a teacher why their friend was late to school. While this explanation is happening, the “late” student is waiting outside so that (s)he does not hear the ludicrous explanation. Then, the “late” student has to come in and try to tell the teacher why (s)he was late, trying to corroborate the story the friends just told. How is the student supposed to do this? Only by watching the friends act out the wild scenario they had built. Regina said the crazier the story, the more fun it is, and this was definitely true. One group came up with this story:

The student was late because his grandmother got “bronchlotia” (an illness, they explained, that is a combination of getting bronchitis and then being allergic to lotion). An easy cure for this bronchlotia would be to go to the hospital, but the grandmother was a Christian Scientist and did not believe in hospitals, so INSTEAD, the late student had to ice down his grandmother with a mixture of ice and salt every few minutes, and THAT was why he was late.

Now, imagine two students acting that out and having a completely clueless student try to guess the story… hilarious. Not only were the actors having fun, but the audience was, too. The students could not stop laughing.

            A truly beautiful moment in improv happened on the last day with the choir, ballet, and modern group. The exercise Regina was doing involved her playing music randomly and then one, two, three, or all of the students dancing to it in whatever fashion they wanted. Everyone was having fun, some choir students pretending to do ballet, ballet students acting like they were at a hoppin’ club, modern students doing tribal dances, and then the song “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 came on and every single student started to sing. There was a mixture of beautifully trained chorus voices with perfect pitch hitting breathtaking notes, and the obviously untrained students belting it out, not caring in the least that they couldn’t sing at all. The choir was dancing and the dancers were singing, and it was an amazing moment of unity. Their disciplines collided, and you could tell a connection formed between them that had not been there before.

            When the class was over, girls and boys left the room arm in arm, singing, skipping, and laughing. The transformation that happened in fifty-five minutes was stunning. It is cases like that that prove the pure power and magic that OSAI has to offer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Victoria Harrell, OSAI PR Counselor, is today's guest blogger.

Lights, Camera, Action!

As a counselor here at Quartz Mountain, with students working on projects all around you, you may be asked to participate.  The film and video students have been working in small groups on a few short films that will debut on Saturday, June 23 here at Quartz Mountain.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to play a small role in one of these short films alongside my good friend and fellow counselor, Corey Davidson.

While filming, I tried to pay close attention to the whole process, and what I noticed was how much has to be done to get just one shot.  Even the scene that we filmed outside with natural light required a handful of people helping.

From holding a gold reflector steady, to holding the microphone above us, to precariously balancing on a chair to hold a piece of cardboard to block out the shadows cast from the rafters above, everything had to be set just right.

The students were allowed a lot of freedom as far as the scenes, with assistant film faculty Beau Leland asking a few thought-provoking questions to lead the students in the right direction.  I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism of the students, and I appreciated being part of the process.

Good luck, film students, and I am anticipating a fantastic movie premieres this weekend!  The screening is free and open to the public, and will take place on Saturday, June 23 at 4 pm at the Robert M. Kerr Performing Arts Center at Quartz Mountain.

Students Perspective on the Mountain

Morgan Edwards, 2012 OSAI counselor, is our guest blogger today.

Today, I went around at lunchtime to talk to some of the students about their favorite parts of the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. 

First year chorus student Emily Cole said:

"I just wish I would have tried out for OSAI in previous years; it's the most incredible experience I have ever been a part of."

Third year chorus student Sarah Carr noted the supportive atmosphere:
"Everyone here supports each other in both performance and friendships. I hope to maintain that characteristic for my personality."

First year photography student Charity Jack said:

"I like meeting new people and getting inspiration from people in my discipline as well as others... I also really like the hash browns!"

Second year acting student Jared Rey said:

"I love being around incredible artists and getting to see so many different perspectives."

Regarding her performance of a monologue for the talent show, acting student Robyn Wheelock said:
"It's incredible to perform for such a big audience. I was awestruck from the energy -- I felt like a movie star for days."

So there you have it!... No matter if the students are first or third years, they love the atmosphere and the support provided by the students as well as the faculty. They also like the hash browns, so props to our chef here at Quartz Mountain! I am so glad that the students are enjoying this incredible camp as much as I did when I was a student. Until next time... hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying the summer... You know our students are here at OSAI!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today's second guest blogger is Catherine Roberts.

One of the (seriously numerous) things I love about Quartz Mountain is that as soon as camp starts, we are inundated with music. It’s everywhere: from the halls of the lodge during sectionals to the evening performances by faculty and students.

Fortunately, we’re provided with handy programs letting us know which pieces we hear during concerts. A few songs we’ve encountered this week, however, have been more incidental. In today’s post, we’ll revisit some of those fleeting moments of the past week and a half with this short playlist of songs that didn’t show up on any programs and whose titles were never mentioned, but that helped provide a soundtrack to OSAI 2012. Now you, too, can relive these moments in the privacy of your own home.

1. “That first song from last year’s video yearbook”
Race You, by Elizabeth & The Catapult

Last year’s yearbook producer did a great job picking music to back up all the fantastic photos from OSAI 2011. So much so that after seeing the film three times through (once during counselor orientation, once at the faculty welcome dinner, and once with the students on the first day of camp), I finally remembered enough of the lyrics to the first song to look it up on iTunes. Now you can too! It’s available on iTunes for $0.99.

2. “Those songs they played during Paul Austin’s performance”
            Wings of a Dove, by Ferlin Huskey 
            Wayfaring Stranger, performed by the Wayfaring Strangers
            He’s Always There, artist unknown

For you Johnny Cash and Alison Krauss fans who perked up when this trio of songs played during Paul Austin and Rilla Askew’s reading of her piece “Strange Business,” we’ve done our best to provide title and artist information. The first two, “Wings of a Dove” and “Wayfaring Stranger” are both available on iTunes for $0.99. The third song is, as far as I could tell, a fairly obscure gospel song. This one you probably won’t be able to find on iTunes. But let us know if you want the track; we have a copy.

3. “That one that Jeff Grogan used to teach us to conduct”
            Cadillac of the Skies, composed by John Williams

We only got to hear a short snippet of this song during conductor Jeff Grogan’s faculty presentation, but the full version has even more to offer. It is also on iTunes for $0.99, so get a copy and practice those moves!
Our guest blogger today is Victoria Harrell.
Sunday Funday

Sunday was a more relaxed day for the faculty  and students here at Quartz Mountain.  There weren't any classes or rehearsals, giving everyone a chance to reboot and prepare for the following week. 

Some students chose to leave campus with family members for a few hours.  For students who didn't leave, there were workshops available throughout the day.  These classes included African dance, a screen-printing workshop, a music improv class, and a labyrinth-making class. 

Sunday evening was the annual "Etcetera" student talent show, featuring interdisciplinary student acts. Christine Hrubik, one of the choral liaisons, hosted the variety show alongside guest host Chantry Banks, last year's acting liaison.


The students put on a great show this year, showcasing almost all of the disciplines in at least one of the performances. After Etcetera, there was another Thunder game watch party, as well as karaoke on the Sundance Cafe patio.

Now that everyone has had a chance to relax and recharge, students are back in class, working hard and preparing for this weekend's performances.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This past Saturday was Visitors’ Day at the Summer Arts Institute, and lots of VIPs made the trip to Quartz Mountain.  Visitors toured classes, attended a special dinner and program, and saw the OSAI chorus and orchestra perform.  Our students, faculty, and staff were excited to welcome our VIPs to Quartz Mountain and show them how their support makes OSAI possible.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Kim Baker took a class tour and visited with drawing & printmaking students Aubrey Ginsterblum and Alex Hazel.  The Oklahoma Arts Council has supported OSAI since its inception.

Photography student Johnathan Wilkerson demonstrates a photo transfer technique to (from left) President Julie Cohen, board member Suzanne McAuley of Norman, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Kim Baker, and board member Adrienne Barnett of Tulsa.

OAI Board Chairman Mike Joseph visited with OSAI student Maris Mills at the VIP dinner.

Speaker-Designate of the Oklahoma House of Representatives T.W. Shannon gave the keynote address at the VIP dinner.  His wife Devon and his two children also visited Quartz Mountain.  OAI is supported through a unique public/private partnership and receives a significant portion of its scholarship funding through the state of Oklahoma via the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

The evening concluded with a phenomenal concert by the OSAI chorus and orchestra.  Highlights included the chorus’ rendition of Mendelssohn’s Weihnachten and the orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird suite.  Both groups received standing ovations.

The Oklahoma Arts Institute sincerely thanks all of our donors, board members, and supporters for their dedication to OAI’s mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts.