O’Kane Gallery Exhibits Annual High School Art Show
By Emily Christiansen
“High Art”, the O’Kane Gallery’s long-running annual high school juried art exhibition, is showing May 11-18 and will display more than 150 works of art from 22 Houston-area schools.
This exhibit has been a part of University of Houston-Downtown for over 20 years and offered hundreds of high school students the opportunity to display their work in a professional gallery. O’Kane Gallery director Mark Cervenka believes that having high school students’ work displayed at a university helps create respect for their work and offers them other benefits.
“Having your work displayed in a gallery probably for the first time is a bit of a revelation,” Cervenka said. “For those who are interested in pursuing a career in art, a lot of art schools are increasingly competitive and a portfolio and a resume are necessary. Being chosen to participate in this show is a great way to add on to that resume. It is a nice opportunity to show their work has creativity and quality.”
Cervenka also thinks that inviting high school students on campus helps them to enjoy the experience of being at a university.
He explains it is important to “reach out to high school students and show them a college campus, our college campus, is not intimidating; rather it is a welcoming place.”
Anne Trask, the previous O’Kane Gallery director, began “High Art” in the late 90s and Cervenka eagerly continued that tradition when he took over in 2000. He has worked with many of the same teachers for 18 years and gotten to know them. He said that some of his former art students are now some of these high school art teachers themselves.
This exhibit has been supported and sponsored by Jim and Ellen Siegler since its beginning. At first it was through Jim’s role as the art director of Houston department store Foley’s, and continued after his retirement. Jim and Ellen generously continued to sponsor the show and have created an endowment to ensure “High Art” can continue.
The O’Kane Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday, and noon - 5 p.m., Saturday.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.