OBU student’s work featured in downtown art show

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

While most art majors host art shows on campus for academic purposing, one OBU student is holding her first show off campus.

More than 30 of junior art major Leighla Beteta’s art pieces are on display and for sale at the Gathering Place on Main Street Shawnee until Oct. 25.

The show intends to help spread Beteta’s name in the local arts community rather than directly count toward her graduation or degree.

“It’s to help get my name out there because I do want to make a name for myself as an artist for hiring reasons,” Beteta said. “I mean I have been published small time. […] I would like to start expanding and get my name out there.”

While the show itself is not school sponsored, a lot of the work featured ties loosely back to OBU or OBU classes in some way.

“Being in school, a lot of this stuff is just stuff done through my school years,” Beteta said.

Some of these pieces include a stippled owl drawing and a painting of her boyfriend done in the style of a Baroque painting.

“During my summer, I took an independent study and I studied baroque period of art and I did five different paintings and attempted to do them in a baroque style,” Beteta said.

The owl drawing involved some difficult techniques separate from her baroque studies.

“It’s hard and it’s a little strenuous because you’re sitting there and you’re trying to make sure, because if you mess up with pen you’re done: you have to deal with it, or start over, those are your options,” she said. “So it’s really kind of scary while you’re doing it but the way it turns out and even sometimes the process of it is just really fun.”

Beteta’s show came about through Studio 112 and a Half, a local art business that connects artists with exhibit venues, through partnership with the Mabee-Gerrer Mu-seum of Art.

According to Studio 112 and a Half’s press release, “although Studio112 and a Half closed their physical location in September they are continuing to spread the joy of art throughout Shawnee and showcase artists in different locations. This will be the first of many art shows at The Gathering Place and other Shawnee locations.”

The business plans to establish a constant presence in Shawnee once more, by opening continual shows at Elements, 911 E. MacArthur St. However, Beteta’s show partially happened through chance.

“I met a guy at Hobby Lobby; his name’s Douglas [Gordon, curator of Studio 112 and a Half], and I met him and he invited me to come look at the art show that was there for that month and he invited me to be one of the artists for another show when they had a physical location,” Beteta said. “And then I was going to have my own show actually last month originally, and they just moved me to The Gathering Place instead, which was actually pretty nice; I like that.”

Titled “Envisage,” Beteta’s show includes a wide variety of her work.

“It’s hard for me to pick titles for things because not all my shows necessarily have a specific theme,” Beteta said. “I felt like the best way to summarize or show everyone what I’m showing was pretty much another way to say ‘envision,’ she said.

The show utilizes a variety of mediums including charcoal, graphite, pen and watercolor.

“I really just want to show people what I can do,” Beteta said. “Because something I per-sonally don’t like is being told ‘you need to pick a medium, like you have to specialize in painting, you have to special-ize in drawing or you have to specialize in ceramics.’ I can be told that, but I don’t want to have to pick one because that’s not how I am.”

Instead, Beteta prefers to work with a variety of mediums.

“That’s partially why I’m doing illustration, because I can pick any medium,” she said.“Because an illustration could be any medium. You could do a massive, huge five-foot by four-foot oil painting and it can be an illustration for something.”

Watching her OBU professor’s illustration work inspired her interest in illustration.

“My teacher, his name is [assistant professor of art] Joshua Brunet, and he’s actually my advisor and I really like [his work],” she said. “It’s awesome; I think it’s awesome and I would like to do it too.”

However, Beteta didn’t always intend to focus on art or even minor in it.

“Fun fact: when I came to OBU, I had no intentions of being an art minor,” she said. “I was 100 percent against the idea of art majoring and art.”

She was studying as an an-thropology major when she changed her decision during this past year.

“Ultimately art is the only thing I have been consistent within my life as far as passions go; it’s the number one thing that has always been in my heart and stuck with me,” she said. “And I decided that if I’m going to go to grad school and have something pretty much become my life, I wanted it to be art.”

Although she didn’t decide to major in art at first, Beteta has loved art for years.

“I started when I was two years old and I couldn’t stop,” she said. “I got pretty serious about it when I was about 14 or 15, and I just love it: expressing myself, being able to create things.”

She began working for commission for local writers.

“I work with a book, an author [Raymond G. Schmidt II] down in my hometown, Lawton,” she said. “I work with him, and I do book covers for him, I’m actually working with him right now,” Beteta said.

Raymond Schmidt has written several works for which Beteta created the cov-er art, including “Between Two Worlds,” “Chronicles of Grusle” and “Lost Treasures of Ireland.”

The books are featured in the show downtown alongside numerous pen or graphite drawings and several paintings that add sparks of color to the art show.

They are also available for purchase on Amazon.com.

“He does a lot of fiction,” Beteta said.“He’s pretty good at it. My mom actually edits his books so it’s a nice little thing we’ve got going on.”

Her first-commissioned work traces back to a quite young age.

“I did it when I was in youth group, so I think I did it when I was about 12,” she said.“12, 13, 14, around that age […] Took me about four hours to do, and I charged him a whopping amount of nine dollars. He paid me four.”

The show at The Gather-ing Place displays much of the progress Beteta has made since those days.

Both the originals and prints of the artwork shown are for sale

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