On Aug. 5, ahha Tulsa held its Open Studios to the public during the First Friday Art Crawl. Two of the artists, Jamie Pierson and Antonio Andrews, are featured in the collection of articles about the August First Friday Art Crawl.
Walking onto the fourth floor, ahha Tulsa goers were greeted with expressive artwork of robots and writing done in vibrant colors. The artist was Antonio Andrews, who also goes by No Parking Studios.
Andrews explained the name, “No Parking Studios really comes from the hip-hop scene that was built in downtown Tulsa on Main Street (Soundpony and Yeti) just standing out there with friends. I literally was looking at signs and said that’s the name, ‘No Parking Studios.’”
Inside of the studio, many of Andrews’ sketches were taped to the wall. And he explained that people buy these sketches so fast, he has to ask them to send him the picture of the sketch to finish his paintings. Andrews likes to work late into the night, and much of what ends up on the page, pours out of him. For that reason, he calls himself a tinkerer, “(It is) because of the sketches. Sometimes it’s like I’m trying to take my art past the point it’s at now… the more I make sketches and just try random things, it results in some work that pushes me past a boundary or like where I feel I’ve peaked.”
To many of the studio goers, Andrews exuded a magnetic energy, joyfully describing his process for his work. He explained his method, “The process for paintings varies. With these quick sketches, I’m able to use it as a reference and make a painting fairly fast because of that. On the other hand, if I just start one, it can be days or months.” His art inspirations include, “Virgil Abhol (the late fashion designer), and currently, my family and my community of north Tulsa.”
The studio is filled with paint buckets, sketchbooks with abstract paintings in them, and oil pastels. Andrews said, “My favorite thing about my studio is being able to set a mood and not have it interrupted. The music, the lighting , the scent, etc. Like the more I dive into my work and get older, I find myself looking for those times of peace and therapy to deal with the many things in the world of being a Black man.”
Andrews was the artist that created the Mayfest mural on ahha’s top balcony, but his relationship with the mural is complicated. “To keep it 100, it didn’t really mean much to me. Especially when it’s so corporate or whatever. I mean, it was cool to be seen and selected, but I didn’t really see it as that big of a deal until my bro Chris Davis was like, this a big deal, bro.”
Though the artwork is still really meaningful, “The actual image and art really was the most fulfilling part. I know that’s how it’s supposed to be, but when you’re making money and moving, that feeling gets lost. So that image was really for a lot of people in history, from when the state was founded in the 1800s to all the people I lost from 2006-2016… that’s what that image represents. It’s that important.”
Open Studios has been vital to Andrews as a successful artist, “Most artists I know are kind of private with their work or just like to be secluded and work. With Open Studios, I get a feel of what people gravitate to and that’s how I can expand on my work. I also get inspiration from talking to people, just moods and where the community is at.”
For Andrews, “I don’t like to feel like I’m over sharing or just talking peoples’ heads off.” Though he still said, “To an extent, if I’m going to talk to people, why not in my studio where I feel most comfortable?”
Andrews had a show called Texture, an interactive retail experience in collaboration with Dreamland Festival and Spark Summit, during Sept 16-18. And in March 2023, he will be exhibiting his pictures in Telluride, Colo.
Overall, he wants people to get active in what they are interested in. “The city of Tulsa is here to support you. That’s how I became an artist. I had an idea and just started. From 2017 to now, I’ve been able to make something real for myself. But I had to get started. That’s it.”