FRESH PAINT: OKC NYE identifies creative and aspiring artists to prepare them to launch a career in making and commissioning public art murals. With the goal of diversity and representation of artists that are young, Black, Indigenous and people of color, five artists ages 18-25 were selected and paired with three established and accomplished mural artist mentors, Virginia Sitzes, Dylan Bradway and Verdean Evergarden. The mentors will assist the young artists in developing an 8’ by 8’ mural, including:
- Developing concepts and artist statements about the proposed work
- Developing material lists and quantities
- Preparation of the mural frames and surfaces for painting
- Applying the design to the surface and completing the mural
Janely Saavedra Cruz
My name is Janely Saavedra Cruz and I’m from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember, at least since pre-kindergarten. I view art as a way to express myself, with much of my work being semi-realistic and surrealistic. I prefer to work with digital art and graphite but I’m enjoying my first experience creating a mural.
My name is Giselle Ordaz and I’m from Tijuana, Mexico. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating art and took every art class possible throughout my years in school. I’ve been focusing on creating art as a career for the last three years. Currently, I’m focusing on mastering my painting techniques, but I also love to explore other mediums such as illustrations, creating tattoo designs, and working with ballpoint pens. Art is very meditative for me. I treat it as my outlet to create the world I want to live in.
Nayelly Morales Rojo
My name is Nayelly Morales Rojo and I’m from Oklahoma City. I’ve been creating art since I was in 7th grade. I love being able to create whatever pops into my head at any given time and enjoy the freedom art gives me to truly express myself. I specialize in creating portraits and landscapes, specifically working with oil, acrylic paint, and charcoal. I’m proud of my Mexican-American heritage and strive for more representation of Latinx artists throughout OKC.
My name is Christian Dixon. Growing up in Missouri — with a close relationship to the wilderness from a young age — my curiosity for the natural world led me to a subconscious understanding of my unity within it. Practicing art for as long as I can remember, there has always been a drive for me to express unity with nature in my artwork. Upon moving to Oklahoma in 2016, after joining the Air Force, I began to take my work more seriously, instead of treating it as a pastime. I chose to pick up painting, as I felt it was one of the easiest and most vivid ways of communicating ideas. Dealing primarily with the subjects of philosophy and religion, (different aspects of the natural world) I have learned to draw most of my inspiration from intuition, using it to guide me in the construction of each of my pieces. I use bright, vivid colors to thoroughly convey emotion, and often use subtle, but strategic geometry within my work to give the viewer a sort of familiarity. The goal of my practice is to connect with others on an unconscious level and give a sense of validation to those who have an appreciation of nature, and to those who seek answers to some of the deeper questions in life.
My name is Savannah Tallbear, an Indigenous artist from Moore, Oklahoma. I’ve been creating art since 2006, but decided to pursue it seriously in 2020. I come from the Kaw, Cheyenne, and Oglala Lakota Nations. Each of these ties are reflected in my artworks. My style could be classified as contemporary Indigenous artwork. I do beadwork as well as acrylic paintings, which are primarily on stretched canvas or wood boards.
Virginia Sitzes is a printmaker, muralist, and active arts advocate living in OKC. She is the creator and director of Sunny Dayz Mural Festival, Oklahoma’s first and only mural fest dedicated to celebrating female and nonbinary artists. In 2017, she co-founded the Oklahoma-based artist collective, Art Group, which now has over 60 members, and is an organizer of the Connect: Collect Print Exchange, now starting its fifth year, which brings together 30 printmakers from around the world and culminates in an annual exhibition. Virginia is also a Teaching Artist for the Oklahoma State Department of Education's federally funded Art Tech program, a five-year, grant-funded program that helps develop arts curriculum for rural schools. She has also worked for the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute the past four years, and their fall adult workshop series the past two years. Virginia currently serves on the board of the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate, teaches workshops across various art spaces such as Oklahoma Contemporary, has been a mentor in multiple projects such as Artspace at Untitled printmaking mentorship program, and consistently curates various pop-up shows in alternative art galleries and non-traditional spaces. Her work has been featured in 405 Magazine, Art Focus magazine, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Oklahoma Gazette, The Tulsa Voice, and the “Inspiring Conversations OKC” and “Whatcha Makin’?” podcast. You can find more of her work on Instagram @virginiasitzes.
Dylan Bradway is an artist, muralist and graphic designer from Oklahoma City who enjoys building unity with his local art community and continually works to connect with other people from all artistic walks through collaboration and volunteer work. With an increasing focus on public art and arts advocacy, Dylan has worked on multiple mural projects in Oklahoma City and around the state over the past 10+ years, including being co-creator of the Plaza Walls project and Vice-President of Oklahoma Mural Syndicate which was created in 2015. With an urban contemporary style, Dylan’s art holds illustrative qualities when rendering subject matter which is dreamlike and representational in nature. His work has been featured in various local publications and shown in multiple galleries/exhibitions in Oklahoma as well as New York City, Portland, Oregon and Hannover, Germany. You can learn more about his work on Instagram @mrdylanb
Verdean Evergarden is a 21-year-old professional artist from Douglass High School in Oklahoma City who specializes in warm-tone abstract representations of beautiful people. He follows a philosophy that the world is a beautiful place full of beautiful people and wants his art to showcase the beauty that he sees all around him. He hopes his work can spark creativity in the next generation of artists and encourage them to pursue a career as an artist. He’s the winner of Arts Council OKC’s first ever Fresh Paint OKC:NYE Mural Project Competition and throughout his four-year career, he’s been featured in numerous Oklahoma City galleries at MUSE Art Tattoo, Book.ish, Artspace at UNTITLED, and the Paseo Arts Creativity Center.