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Organization of Independent Artists records, circa 1970s-circa 2003

Historical Note

The Organization of Independent Artists (OIA) is a non-profit arts organization founded in 1976 by Warren Tanner, Arnold Wechsler, and Renee Meyer. The organization's mission is to sponsor artist-curated group shows and enable exhibitions of emerging and mid-career artists in public spaces throughout the New York City area outside of the usual commercial and alternative gallery venues.
OIA activities have included organizing public space exhibitions and displays of artwork, publishing a quarterly newsletter, maintaining a slide registry of artists' work and extensive artists' mailing lists, and arranging studio tours. The Arts in Public Spaces Program was initiated in 1976 with the passage of the Public Buildings Cooperative Usage Act, a public law that encourages the use of public space in federal buildings for cultural and educational activities. Participating professional artists have included Thornton Willis, Joan Thorne, Vincent Longo, Mimi Gross Grooms, Hannah Wilke, Nancy Spero, Richard Mock, and Joyce Kozloff, among others. By 1986, OIA had facilitated the display of more than 5,000 works of art in forty public exhibition sites, which included courthouses, libraries, building lobbies, public parks, college campuses, and hospital grounds in all five boroughs of New York City, and over 2,000 artists had participated it its Art in Public Spaces program.
Other exhibition collaborations have included Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center, General Services Administration, John F. Kennedy Airport, Long Island University in Brooklyn, Longwood Arts Center in the Bronx, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Queens Museum in Flushing Meadow Park, Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island, U.S. Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, and the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. Since 1979, the annual OIA Sculpture Garden at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Ward's Island has afforded hundreds of artists the opportunity to construct and install large-scale outdoor work in an urban environment, and many artists have received individual commissions, one-person shows, and have sold art work as a direct result of their participation.
Other OIA exhibition programming has resulted in ten to twelve artist-curated shows per year, and has assisted the artist-curator by identifying and negotiating exhibition locations, as well as producing announcement cards and posters, providing insurance, hosting the artists' reception, advising and assisting with publicity, and undergoing extensive fundraising for artists' and curators' fees.