Art Appreciation Goes Digital: Budget Collector’s “Art@Home” Event in Tulsa
Budget Collector is an innovative company that is taking the Tulsa art scene by storm. The company’s mission is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or education in art. Recently, the company sponsored an “Art@Home” event at the Henry Zarrow Center for Art & Education, which was curated by Royce Meyers of the Royce Meyers Gallery.
The exhibit featured several artists, including Anke Dodson, Lisa Regan, Jean Richardson, Derek Penix, Susan Eddings, Jarvis, Karen Kuykendall, Ryan Lee, and Michelle Firment Reid. Michelle, a multi-disciplinary artist, had an installation piece in the exhibit. She commented on how the diverse body of selected works “interplayed well together; inviting the viewer to walk through, pause, examine closer, and enjoy all with ease.” The art is on display in the gallery the entire month of September, but the heart of the event was the live experience. It was so much more than a traditional First Friday art crawl.
Ebonique Boyd, the co-creator of Budget Collector, is passionate about bringing art to everybody.
Not just the encouragement to buy local art but also the opportunity to have a conversation about art, regardless of art history knowledge. The event was designed to ask questions like how art makes us feel, what it inspires in us, what it teaches us, and what it brings up in us.
At the “Art@Home” event, Ebonique set up a space for conversation about art at the back corner of the gallery. The area was decked out in beautiful mustard yellows and golds and accented with fine art all around the space. Ebonique created a ”home-like” feel that inspired a casual and authentic conversation about art. She displayed multiple iconic images on a screen and created a space for dialogue around the art. John Villareal, Executive Recruiter and self-proclaimed art lover, recollected, “Ebonique invited me to view a series of 14 different paintings and rate them from 1 to 5. It was a fun and educational experience to see the different art and see how my ratings compared to others. The entire evening was a great experience of wine, art, and music in a great space and atmosphere.”
Over 1,200 people in under 3 hours circulated through the art gallery that Friday night, enjoying live music to the sounds of Stephen Schultz and Josh Westbrook, sipping wine and cocktails, and mingling with a diverse crowd of families, creatives, and the like.
Matthew Endacott, a fellow artist and First Friday enthusiast, loved how the event ” brought people together to experience the culture Tulsa offers in the form of music, food, art, installation work, performances, etc.” He also sat down with Ebonique, participated in her art conversation, and commented, “We had a great chat about the project and how it can help guide someone to the type of art they would be drawn to with a database of worldwide art. I think it’s an intriguing concept, and I hope it helps art enthusiasts.”
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One of the most exciting aspects of the event was the live reactions to the art. Royce Meyers, who curated the art for the event, commented on the interesting mix of clients, friends, and people who may not regularly frequent his art gallery. “I loved watching people study the art and take pictures with their friends and family. So many of the paintings on the walls became photo opportunities, and from that event, we received numerous calls about the art, and we even sold a painting in the show.”
Ebonique found that her favorite responses were from art connoisseurs who initially questioned the app’s rating system but ended up loving the experience. For her, the most satisfying part of the event was watching live reactions from people of all backgrounds, including those who had never used the app before and the most active users. Some of the highest-rated items by app users were viewed poorly by some live viewers, which Ebonique found fascinating. For instance, some people perceived an Ethiopian painting by Afewerk Tekle as a “Black Jesus” work and automatically disliked it. However, after Ebonique explained that the painting was actually called “Defender of his Country” and had been printed on the Ethiopian national stamp, these participants softened their views and had more positive things to say. The team captured each participant’s conversation as a live reaction, which will be used in the next three months to acquire more organic app users. “It made me feel more confident that we are doing the right things and headed in the right direction,” Ebonique says.
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