By Lindsay Whelchel
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Sometimes, when Sue Schofield is painting, she listens to music. Other times, it’s TV news. Still, at times, she is so absorbed in what she’s doing she hears nothing at all. And then there are days she only hears the gentle hum of the washing machine.
After all, her art studio is located in her laundry room.
Usually a space known only to herself, Schofield and many other Norman artists, are allowing the community to become acquainted with their often private, if not secretive, studios next weekend during Norman Open Studios.
“I think it’s wonderful for people to see that it’s not mysterious. It’s hard work,” said Schofield, of her nature-inspired work. “It’s not some muse from beyond that’s guiding your hand, you’re there thinking and planning and considering and reconsidering, doing and redoing.”
In Norman’s first open-studio event, the public will be able to tour approximately 22 different spaces of at least 27 different local artists, Norman Arts Council Executive Director Erinn Gavaghan said.
Similar to an open house, the open studios will feature a variety of spaces — some like Schofield’s in homes and some that are separate spaces — to offer visitors a behind-the-scenes look in to the artistic process, Gavaghan said.
“The cool thing about open studios is that it’s really unexpected to see how and where each artist works because they’re all so different,” she said.
Many of the individual artists’ working studios are conveniently concentrated near downtown, Gavaghan said.
“That makes it a really fun and easy way for people to come and pick up a map and go through as many of the studios on that day as possible,” she said.
The opportunity for visitors is also an opportunity for the artists.
“In a formal gallery setting the artist doesn’t always have that chance to interact with people who are interested in their work,” Gavaghan said. “I’m hoping that this will really give them a unique opportunity as an artist.”
For visitors, it is a chance to understand the artistic process or what Schofield calls a journey.
“You step into the studio and start working and each time it takes you to a different place, it takes you in a different way,” Schofield said.
And right now, Schofield is on such a journey: Her art is in mid-transition, she said, and she is working hard to convey universal elements such as water and fire through paintings. She keeps the TV on to occupy her logical thinking so she can freely create.
With similar events in Tulsa and St. Louis, Gavaghan said this will be an opportunity for Norman residents to more fully explore their community.
“These studios are often — not necessarily — hidden from sight, but people are just unaware that they’re even there,” she said. “And then to be able to walk through their own community and realize that there’s art being made, maybe right next door or down the street, really adds to the cultural backbone of the community.”
When it comes to experiencing cultural enrichment, it seems the arts community has left the door wide open.