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Signs of the Times
Artist Hugh Meade is making Oklahoma City a better place to see and be seen, one design at a time.
By Karlie Tipton
Published May/June 2015
With its concrete floor, tables covered in tools, and wood, metal, and acrylic projects in various stages of completion, Oklahoma City’s Oddfab Design Lab looks more like the space of a mad scientist than an artist. Though founder Hugh Meade is more likely to wield a welding torch than a brush, his furniture, décor, art installations, and lighted signs add an artistic edge to Oklahoma City’s urban landscape.
“I consider signage at its best to be a form of public art,” Meade says. “It’s part of your visual landscape.”
Since starting Oddfab in 2009, Meade has done more than create signs for Empire Slice House, the Mule, Oklahoma Contemporary, and other Oklahoma City establishments. He has designed, fabricated, and erected pieces of advertising art that act as flashy introductions between new businesses and their customers.
“With a name like Empire, we had to have something bold,” says the restaurant’s co-owner and general manager Rachel Cope. “Hugh built a showpiece.”
That Plaza District showpiece is a lighted sign reminiscent of old Hollywood. More than a hundred bulbs fill Meade’s hand-built channel letters in a display no visitor could miss. While commercial projects constitute the bulk of his work, it’s often through Meade’s other artistic endeavors that his beautifully contradictory style shines through. For example, there’s the seven-foot steel raven he constructed for the Myriad Botanical Gardens. It’s hard to fathom how something can be at once a testament to the elegance of industrial design—so immense and cold and solid—while capturing the vivacity of a swooping bird in flight.
“His range is incredible, from a bird to a keyhole door to a giant concrete wreath. He can do just about anything,” says Maureen Heffernan, executive director of the Myriad Gardens. “We go to him anytime we need something unique.”
Get There: Oddfab Design Lab is open by appointment and from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 15 and June 19 during Premiere on Film Row, the district’s monthly block party. 703 West Sheridan Avenue in Oklahoma City, (405) 397-1618 or oddfab.com.