New Art Exhibits Offer Insights on Different Cultures

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"Common Ground: Multiculturism in Oklahoma" is the theme of the major summer exhibit which opens Saturday at City Arts Center. Billed as an entertainment spectacle as much as an art event, the exhibit will open at 6:30 p.m. with the rhythms of Africa, the flash of Chinese sword dancers and the steady drum beat of Native American dance.

Celebrating the individual heritage of each of the 11 exhibiting artists, Common Ground also examines their vision of the world through those heritages. The 11 artists are Michi Susan, Olif Venters, M. Teresa Valero, Nancy Large, Paulette Black, Mark Gilmore, Connie Seabourn, Benjamin Harjo Jr., Elmer Gari Owens, Gloria Duncan and Byron Shen.

Performing at the opening reception Saturday night will be African drummer Jahruba, sword dancer Ming Chang McCloy and the Great American Indian Dancers.

Admission to the opening reception is free of charge to the public. City Arts Center is on the Fairgrounds at 3000 Pershing Blvd. . . More than 500,000 visitors are expected to view the "Catherine the Great" exhibition in the Centennial Building at Dallas' Fair Park. The exhibit, which will remain in Dallas through November 29, glorifies the reign of the often controversial Catherine II, empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796. She was a supporter and collector of art.

If you want to be among the 500,000 viewing this fabulous collection of brilliant decorative and fine arts of the era, you need to make your reservations now. Especially if you hope to visit the exhibit while you're in Dallas for the University of Oklahomaiversity of Texas football game. Ticket information _ about the exhibit, not the football game _ is available from the Dallas Historical Society, P.O. Box 150038, Dallas, Texas 75315.

More than 300 items, including paintings, sculpture, porcelain, furniture, jewelry and costumes, are in the collection. Centerpiece of the exhibition is the original goldnd silverated coronation carriage, more than 22 feet long and 10 feet high, which was fashioned by a craftsman in the French court of Louis XV. . . A little closer to home but equally international is the exhibit opening Tuesday at the Oklahoma City Art Museum at the Fairgrounds. Titled "Free Worlds: Metaphors and Realities in Contemporary Hungarian Art," this exhibition spotlights a small but vital underground art scene of the 1960s and '70s in Hungary.

The opening reception for museum members and guests will be from 7-9 p.m. July 17. Roald Nasgard, deputy director and chief curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario, will speak about the exhibition at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 30. "Free Worlds" was organized and circulated by that gallery in collaboration with the Mucsarnok (Palace of Exhibitions), Budapest, and the Hungarian Festival of Arts, Toronto. Oklahoma City Art Museum is the only venue in the United States, so it's a rare opportunity to see what artists in Eastern Bloc countries have been doing.

Local sponsors are The Jerome Westheimer Foundation, the State Arts Council of Oklahoma, the Allied Arts Foundation and KRXO-FM.

A nominal admission fee is charged at the museum, which is open daily except Monday and is open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. . . Circle Saturday, Sept. 12, if you plan to attend Animal Crackers, the annual blacke benefit sponsored by the Oklahoma Zoological Society. Chaired by Mr. and Mrs. Morton Payne III at Kirkpatrick Center, the party will feature dinner, dancing and a special auction.

Patron seating is being solicited at $350 per couple, while general seating will be priced at $250 per couple. Proceeds will be used to fund specialized video monitoring equipment for the Great EscApe, the Oklahoma City Zoo's worldclass primate exhibit scheduled to open next summer. …