OKLAHOMA CITY – As a new school year begins, two Oklahoma teachers are already preparing for their “finals.” Art teachers and artists Jesse Whittle and Trish McCain have found time outside the classroom this summer to compose their first set of work to be featured in a commercial gallery. Both artists will debut their work at Istvan Gallery on August 12.

“To be a fulltime artist is extremely rare,” said Whittle, an art teacher at Mannford Middle School in Mannford, Okla. “I knew that when I majored in art instead of education, but I wanted to further my career as an artist and teaching inspires me. It forces me to reflect on what I know and learned.”

McCain, an art teacher at Harvest Hills Elementary School in Putnam City School District, admits her art was put on the back burner when she began teaching 12 years ago. However, McCain found the energy to pick up her art supplies again and focus on her art career this summer. She credits her students for having helped her become a well-rounded artist.

“My art and teaching go hand-in-hand,” McCain said. “I push my students to learn the skills of art, taking a fine art approach and moving away from just arts and crafts. Working with them has motivated me to continue creating my own pieces.”

Both artists say they enjoy sharing their artwork with their students.

“Sometimes it’s strange for students to learn their teachers have a life outside the classroom,” McCain said. “It’s neat when students can come out to see me in a different environment. My current work is Georgia O’Keefe-inspired, so I incorporated a flower series with pastels, my preferred medium, into the curriculum for the fifth graders at the end of last year.”

“I’m glad that such talented artists are influencing our youth,” said Stephen Kovash, owner and curator for Istvan Gallery. “Their students are learning techniques from artists who are practicing art outside of the classroom. That goes beyond what an elementary or middle school experience might provide.”

Finding time during the evenings and summer break, Whittle, an acrylic and collage artist, and McCain, a charcoal and pastel artist, have produced a collection to be included in Istvan Gallery’s August art installation alongside featured artists Luis Saenz, photography; Todd Jenkins, sculpture; Spencer Tracy, mixed media; and Brittany Rudolf, sculpture.

“Showing my work with other artists is always a good learning experience,” Whittle said. “Other artists have really taught me how to develop a cohesive collection of work. Teaching reminds me that I can help my students develop skills and progress each year.”

The Istvan Gallery art installation will preview with an artists’ reception Friday, Aug. 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. and an open house on Aug. 13 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show will continue through Oct. 30, 2011.

The opening reception is free, open to the public and will include entertainment, light hors d'oeuvres and beverages. Visitors can also observe glass blowing demonstrations by artists at Blue Sage Studio.

Istvan Gallery is over 4,000 square feet of wall and floor space with new exhibits installed quarterly. Istvan Gallery’s hours are Tuesday through Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. and by appointment. Opening celebrations include a reception on Friday from 6 to10 p.m. and open house on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (405) 831-2874 or visit www.IstvanGallery.com.

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Editor’s note: For more information, high resolution photos or to set up an interview with Stephen Kovash or an artist, contact Anglin Public Relations (405) 840-4222.

Kinsey Crocker or Mindy Robson at

Anglin Public Relations at (405) 840-4222

or after-hours for media on deadline (580) 402-5269