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O’Kane Gallery Reopens with Faculty Exhibition

Art Professors in the Spotlight Sept. 9 – Oct. 14


By Mike Emery

Like other art spaces throughout the nation, the University of Houston-Downtown's O’Kane Gallery was not immune to the effects of COVID-19. The esteemed gallery was closed throughout 2020 and shifted its programming online. 

Now, it's preparing to reopen for its first show in more than a year featuring artists with whom Houstonians (particularly, UHD students) are quite familiar. 

The UHD Faculty Exhibition will present works from those professors who are helping future generations of artists realize their creative potential. Paintings, sculpture, fiber art, graphic design and other media will be represented at this show. 

According to Mark Cervenka, Director of the O’Kane Gallery and Professor of Art, this will be the first Faculty Exhibition since 2015, and there is no better time than the present to revive this University tradition. 

“This is an opportune time to reopen our gallery and to reintroduce our faculty to our community,” said Cervenka, who contributed some of his paintings to the exhibition.

In addition to Cervenka, faculty participating in the exhibition are Floyd Newsum, Beth Secor, Skye Rudin, Emily Keown, Natacha Poggio, Mason Rankin and El Franco Lee II. 

Works in the exhibition include Cervenka’s “A Child Offers A Keepsake for Comfort on His Journey,” one chapter in the artist’s series of oil paintings depicting a young man’s odyssey into urban landscapes that are diverse, desolate, and at times, dangerous. 

Rudin’s contributions include “Self-Reflection (Cover Up, Strip Away)” (oil on canvas). The piece, which earned the Silver Award from the international competition Awesome Art Prize, offers an introspective depiction of the artist breaking the fourth wall as her reflection gazes confidently into the horizon. 

The show will also spotlight Keown’s colorful fabric and fiber, including a quilt assembling fringe, ribbons, buttons, beads and other disparate items. The story behind the quilt is as intriguing as the final product. As a teaching artist with ARTreach, Keown worked with Opening Arts and Minds and Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Association in Houston. With the assistance of 12 participants, she created the art quilt on view in the Gallery. The participants in this project created their own squares and shared their thoughts on the quilting collaboration. Keown incorporated their thoughts and respective squares into a singular work of art. 

Secor’s contributions include “Natchez Pines, Between the Bayou and Loading Dock” (pencil and pen in paper), an intricate view of the maze-like natural tapestry occurring among a group of trees.  

The Faculty Exhibition will officially open with a reception at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9. Safe practices such as wearing masks and practicing appropriate distancing in the gallery are encouraged during this event. Additional details on this exhibition and upcoming shows are available on the O’Kane Gallery website. 


About the University of Houston-Downtown

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.