The building at 302 S. Main St. in downtown Broken Arrow has only been fully open to the public for a few weeks, but there are still a few visitors who were unaware that the mission of this location has changed from commerce to creativity.
“We had a woman who came in a few days ago who was a little upset that she couldn’t access her safe here,” Jennifer Deal said. “We told her the bank was a little further down the block, but you could tell she wasn’t happy.”
The building in question, which for many years was the site of the original Arkansas Valley Bank, is now officially the Brown-Kimbrough Center for Arts, Innovation and Creativity. But, since BKCAIC isn’t the catchiest of acronyms, the place is also known by the easier-to-remember moniker, [email protected]
“We want it to be a real community art center – the kind of place where you can come and see, buy or make art,” said Deal, the center’s executive director.
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While the center, designed by Tulsa firm Selser Schaefer Architects, features ample gallery space and a gift shop on the ground floor, much of the building is given over to areas dedicated to the artistic creation, from a pottery workshop equipped with wheels on which to transform pieces of clay into objects that are both decorative and functional, to a room filled with easels where budding and accomplished painters can work.
[email protected] currently offers courses in a variety of disciplines, from watercolor painting to comics and illustration, color theory and figure drawing, pottery and photography, writing and the music.
The center offers special classes for homeschooled students, who otherwise might not receive arts instruction, as well as at-risk students, which is funded in part by the Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education Fund, which is overseen by the Regional Arts Alliance of Broken Arrow.
Still, program coordinator Caleb Ricketts stressed that [email protected] isn’t just for kids.
“It’s something that we often hear people say, that they don’t have the talent or that whatever they might try to do wouldn’t be ‘perfect’ enough,” Ricketts said. “But that’s what [email protected] is for – it’s to help people discover what they can do and enjoy the process of making something.”
The center’s inaugural art exhibit, “A Celebration of Native American Art and Culture,” recently closed, but Deal said the center plans to host monthly exhibits.
“Our September show is going to be a ‘call for artists,'” she said. “We are also planning an animal art exhibit and a tattoo art exhibit which should be very interesting.”
Deal said [email protected]’s current setup is only the first phase of the overall project. Subsequent phases will likely include a recording studio, black box theater and computer lab for graphic design and digital photography classes.
“We are always interested in knowing what the public wants from this center and trying to provide it to them,” she said. “We want the people of Broken Arrow to be involved in the center and in what we do because art is such a powerful thing. It’s enriching, empowering and makes you see things in a way that you never you haven’t seen before. And while it’s enjoyable to be a spectator, so to speak, it’s much more satisfying to participate in the arts. We’re giving people a chance to do just that.
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