H-O-R-S-E: A Game of Art

If you’re not familiar with James Nghiem, here is a brief primer: he created the Robot Saves City comedy label, not only does he do a lot of stand-up too, but he organizes comedy showcases in both Norman and Oklahoma City, and he is in a band called The Nghiems, which earlier this year won Pros Pick at the 5th Norman Music Festival for their video “Dum Dum Dah Dah.”  All said, James has a talent for organizing events, so on November 2nd at Downtown Sound (115 S. Crawford, Norman) he is putting on an art show called H-O-R-S-E.

OKC.NET: What inspired you to put on this show?

James: This art show is loosely inspired by the children’s basketball game H-O-R-S-E. It’s not totally similar, but something I like about the game is that it forces players to take shots they wouldn’t normally be comfortable taking. I know from experience, when working with creative things, artists sometimes tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves. This kind of pressure can be stifling. It’s like writer’s block in broader sense. What the H-O-R-S-E art show is about, is removing that block. It’s about forcing artists to take shots they wouldn’t normally take.


James says the “H” and “E” are mysteries as many of the artists are keeping their contributions under wraps. But we were able to obtain a few examples: “O” is for “Orwell,” “R” is for “Rasputin,” and “S” is for “Salvador Dali.”



James: I guess it could be anything. I might go with Robot or Octopus if we do this again, depending on how it turns out.

OKC.NET: Is it a free show or is there a cover charge?

James: This is a totally free show. It’s BYOB [Bring Your Own Beverage] and going to be pretty chill.

OKC.NET: Will the art be for sale?

James: Some of the art will be for sale. It all depends on what the artist wants to do. My pieces are for sale, but I know some of the people participating are attached to their work too.

OKC.NET: Sounds like negotiations might be in order if you end up liking something that isn’t necessarily for sale. With that in mind: do artists keep their profit or does it go to charity?

James: This show, artists will probably keep their profits, although Downtown Sound may keep 20%. Maybe we’ll support a charity with the next one. This is the first Horse show, so we’re kind of learning as we go.

OKC.NET: Describe the atmosphere you are going for: drinks and conversations or music and browsing?

James: This is an art show made by artists. So hopefully everyone will feel comfortable. I’m hoping for a very fun atmosphere where people can relax and appreciate each others’ work and company.

OKC.NET: Is anyone sponsoring the show, maybe the venue?

James: Downtown Sound is hosting us and Norman Arts Council said they would plug it. I am mostly trying to get artists that have roots in the city and Norman to come out of the woodwork and put on a show.

OKC.NET: Who is showing and how many pieces will there be?

James: Off the top of my head I know Zach Davidson is sending pieces from Indiana University. Mike Allen, a very talented graphic artist from Oklahoma, is contributing pieces. I’ve seen Keela Marquardt’s pieces and they look really sick. I’m predicting around 10 artists contributing around 5 pieces apiece. So in an ideal world the number is a nice round 50.


OKC.NET: What kind of art work can people expect: photography, mixed media, oil or acrylic paints, sculptures or ???

James: There will be a variety of mediums at the show. I know there’s going to be acrylic paint. I’m doing digital art. I’m getting lithographs in the mail. It’s gonna be awesome.

OKC.NET: For someone who is not familiar with Downtown Sound, what can they expect and when does the show start?

James: Downtown Sound to me is a punk rock art gallery. The show starts at 8 p.m.

OKC.NET: What I haven’t I asked you that you feel is important to know?

James: I think you hit on most everything. I think events like this are important for Oklahoma’s art culture. It keeps people on their toes and brings talented artists who might’ve been inactive back into the fold. Also, it’s not too heavy. There’s not a ton of pressure on anybody.

OKC.NET: Just for fun finish this line: “A Robot Octopus and a Horse walk into a bar….”

James: “…And the bartender’s brain explodes…”

OKC.NET: Well now I wish I’d written: “A Robot Octopus mounted on one of the four horses of the Apocalypse rides into a bar….”


(Editor’s Note: You can see the full artist roster on the “H-O-R-S-E: An Art Show” FB event page.)

Check out this show and if you see something you like: go buy some H-O-R-S-E art!

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