Hanging from a giant crane, a 1975 black Plymouth Duster glows in the summer sun as a team of workers carefully positions the polished hood to face N Broadway Avenue.
Under the watchful eye of Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebriza, workers in hard hats directed the nose of the classic car toward a hole covered and surrounded by a black rubber waterproof membrane.
“I like that it’s really kind of in a garden, like an urban garden, and it’s on this avenue, Automobile Alley,” Lebriza told The Oklahoman. “It has a history … and it’s nice when even the work can yield some new ideas over time.”
As the afternoon traffic jams wore on – drivers took note of roadside action – with occasional decelerations – the installation team on Tuesday parked Lebriza’s car perfectly at its exceptional off-the-ground angle. did. He then mounted a ladder against the now-vertical undercarriage so that a team member could climb up, remove the heavy hook, and free Plymouth from the crane.
When the 2,500-pound car proved to be firmly balanced on the armature under the front bumper, some onlookers shouted triumphantly.
And that was when the water work began.
As a hose worker filled the 25-foot-by-50-foot reflector pool under the duster with 2,500 gallons of water, Steve Boyd infused a pack of black nontoxic dye into man-made waves.
“It’s definitely not something you see every day,” said Boyd, exhibition manager for the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.
But for the next eight months, anyone driving en Broadway will be hard-pressed to miss Lebriza’s monumental public sculpture while it stands in front of the Oklahoma Contemporary at Campbell Art Park. Titled “Brave Historia del Tiempo,” it’s the first arrival at the non-profit arts center for a major display of Mexican artwork next month.
“It looks awesome. … The auto industry here at OKC has a long history, and obviously, Automobile Alley pays homage to it,” said Oklahoma Contemporary Director Jeremiah Matthews Davis.
“We get a lot of walk-up and drive-up traffic … and whenever someone stops and reverses course to see the art, we’ll frame it as a win.”
Memorable dream inspires monumental car sculpture
The inspiration for “Brave Historia del Tiempo”—which translates to “A Brief History of Time”—came to Lebriza more than 20 years ago.
“The first thought actually came from a kind of dream that I had a car falling into a lake and stopped as soon as I touched the water. Then this image started popping up in my mind until I did.” Lebriza said.
From that dream in 2001, Lebriza created “Entre la vida y la muerta”, a 2008 performance piece that he used a crane to drop another Plymouth Duster into a lake outside his home in Guadalajara, Mexico. was drawn to.
He used a high-speed camera to immortalize his car’s drop and managed to capture a picture just before the front bumper touched the water.
“Once I had the print of the image, the print changed the image in my senses. … it took over,” he recalled. “In the image, you get this kind of dizzy feeling; you feel like the car is actually giving you this idea of the force of gravity.”
If he could re-imagine the picture as a large-scale sculpture featuring a muscle car suspended over a reflecting pool, the artist thought he could give people a 3-D version of that feeling.
“Cars belong to roads. So, if you do it close to the road, what will happen with the simple gesture of lifting the car and changing direction to be horizontal and placing it vertically in the water?” Lebriza said.
“My concepts, I think, are very simple. The language I use is simple. Sometimes the production is not very simple. I need to bring this car from Mexico … so sometimes the simplicity It takes a lot of effort. … But once it’s installed, it’s a task that can be understood in many layers by very different people.”
almost a decade in the making
Affectionately known as “The Car”, this statue is part of Mexico City’s famous La Coleción Jumex. It is on loan to Oklahoma Contemporary until March 27.
“They sent us all the technical drawings, how everything worked, and we brought it in via a fine arts shipper. There’s always a little slowdown at the border, but we got everything,” Boyd said.
“I’m very happy to work with Smith & Pickle Construction on these. In fact, they’ve built almost every exhibit we’ve had in Campbell Park, and they built ours as well. … they did it all A little less than two weeks.”
But the idea of bringing “Brave Historia del Tiempo” to OKC dates back almost a decade. From 2012 to 2018, the Oklahoma Contemporary operated a satellite gallery in Marfa, Texas. This is where the arts center staff first connected with Lebriza and showcased her popular sculpture—featuring a champagne-colored 1968 Chevrolet Malibu instead of the black ’75 Plymouth Duster in 2014.
The latest installation of his massive public sculpture marks Lebriza’s beginnings of OKC.
“I always find (it) exciting to bring my work to new areas. I think it always changes, never the same. It will always create different reactions,” he said.
“Public artwork should have a responsibility to involve not only art professionals. It should include all kinds of people.”
Sculpture sparking interest at upcoming Mexican art exhibition
Lebriza’s “Brief History of Time” aims to spark interest in the Oklahoma Contemporary’s upcoming exhibition “La Casa Que Nos Inventamos: Contemporary Art from Guadalajara,” which features nearly 50 conceptual artworks – from paintings and sculptures to installations and performances. will display. Over the past decade by about 20 visual artists living or residing in the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco.
“This exhibition has taken years to build,” Davis said. “We found a lot of similarities between the city of Guadalajara and the city of Oklahoma City.”
The title of the exhibition is Spanish for “The House That We Invented”.
“Guadalajara, starting about 25 or 30 years ago, really started investing in culture and art and design. The artists who are part of this exhibition – from the 90s to more recently, more or less two generations of artists – have decided (that) instead of moving to Mexico City, they were going to stay in Guadalajara and make it something special. So, we can continue to grow and expand as a city and have the ongoing cultural and The economic renaissance can continue,” Davis said.
The exhibition will feature works by Mexican artists who rose to international prominence in the 2000s such as Jose Dávila, Eduardo Sarabia and Francisco Ugarte, as well as up-and-comers such as Isa Carrillo, Larissa Garza and Renata Peterson.
“We have a major Mexican-American population … here in OKC — concentrated to the south but really throughout the metropolitan area — so high that in fact, later this year, a Mexican consulate in Oklahoma City Opening up,” Davis said. “We already have a Guatemalan consulate, so we are already an international city in that regard. But bringing in a Mexican consulate would add a whole new dimension to the city and its position internationally.”
The Oklahoma Contemporary is already planning a big open house weekend September 23-24 to celebrate the debut of “La Casa Que Nos Inventamos.”
“In a way, it’s making up for lost time,” Davis said. “We had plans for some amazing things to happen in March of 2020, and the COVID pandemic got in the way of those plans. But we’re reinventing in some ways with this exhibition to make sure our Everyone in the community knows this is their arts center and we are open for business.”
OKC. reception to celebrate the arrival of the car sculpture in
Oklahoma will celebrate the arrival of Contemporary Lebriza’s classic car sculpture with a free opening reception Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. The festivities will include live mariachi music, light refreshments, a cash bar and short artist remarks.
“The automobile for my generation – and for many other generations – I think is the most important item of the 20th century … with all the concepts and ideas being applied around the car, not just about running, But also about the feeling of freeness,” said Lebriza, 50.
“I think we’re coming to the end of an era of gasoline cars now. The world is changing, transportation is changing – and they should change, of course. So, I think it’s a pretty nostalgic task.” is, in the context of it.”
Since it is a public artifact, however, Lebriza said that people are free to interpret it as they wish.
“I have my concept around it, but it doesn’t matter to my concept once it’s in the public domain. … all these stories people start making (about it), they all have a certain value. Happens,” he said.
“But it will generate a lot of attention.”
‘The Car’ in Oklahoma Contemporary
whatGonzalo Lebriza’s monumental sculpture “Brave Historia del Tiempo”
upon seeing: Through March 27.
where: Campbell Art Park in Oklahoma Contemporary, 11 NW 11.
Free Opening Reception: Thursday evenings 6 to 8 pm.