Nestled on the square in downtown Altus, across from the Jackson County Courthouse, sits a tucked-away treasure that many commuters pass without knowing the hidden beauty within.
Stacey Durham, an art history graduate of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, holds the key to the Wigwam Gallery. A wealth of information, she has been the curator and manager of an outstanding collection of art for a little over a year and gives tours of the exhibits upon request.
Once, one of four popular movie theaters built on each side of the square in 1920, the Wigwam is now home to a vast collection of Native American and Western-inspired works created by artists from all over the world with a primary focus on pieces by Oklahoma artists.
Owned and managed by NBC Bank, the Wigwam Gallery has been open and operational since 2013. Before its life as an art gallery, the Wigwam was the theater that showed movies to the 18-and-older crowd for more than 50 years. After an electrical fire in 1993, it was purchased by NBC to house the chairman’s ever-growing collection of artwork previously exhibited within the bank.
The current art exhibit titled “Synergy” features abstract artwork in a variety of media from acrylic and oil paint, to print, photography and sculpture.
“Synergy is the concept that the whole is greater than the sum,” Durham said, “And I really want people to see that in these pieces.”
Durham’s tour of the art gallery does not stop at the pieces of framed art on the walls. For those better suited to learning by doing, she has a station set up to help visitors to better understand the concept of abstract as an artistic genre and a visual media center where visitors can hear the artists’ thoughts on their work.
“Each person who comes through the gallery has a different reaction to what they see and experience,” Durham said, “Abstract art can be taken in so many different ways, that there is no wrong way to feel about an art piece.”
One of nine locations, the Wigwam houses only some of the 700-plus collection available to exhibit. The gallery rotates shows every three months with the next coming up in October titled, “Twenty-four works on paper,” that will feature 24 up-and-coming artists from around the state.
The current exhibition will be continuing through Oct. 28. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Durham at 580-477-1100 or [email protected]
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077