Mateo and Malinda Galindo may not be from Oklahoma, but they’re contributing to the state’s art scene in a major way. 

In 2015, the pair founded Atomic Culture, a collaborative curatorial platform that includes exhibitions, events and thematic dinners, to provide a forum for interaction and dialogue. From the jump, Atomic Culture was also made to highlight established and emerging contemporary artists whose work centers around geopolitical issues, invisible borders, history and space. The couple have been part of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship since 2019.

“We are working with artists whose work speaks directly to the many cultures of Oklahoma,” says Mateo. “It’s engaging and impactful while trying to push where and how we can experience art. Most of our projects, since we’ve been in Tulsa, involve a site-specificity that is not a traditional museum or gallery space.”

The fellowship has allowed the duo to focus solely on their craft and given them space and resources to create more significant projects, like the upcoming performance series ENCODING: a future setting. 

Mateo and Malinda are curators and artists, but are also activists for other creators and their messages. 

“We are here to care for the art that we regard and make sure that the art or performance has the proper context to communicate its message,” says Mateo. “Collaboration is a big part; as a curator, we are trying to harmonize our vision with the artists and sometimes an institution, so we have to listen to many voices.”

The Impetus

Mateo, originally from Carlsbad, N.M., found his passion for art while watching a film.

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“The first time I got a burning desire to create something that wasn’t music was when I saw Stan Brakhage’s films Mothlight and Black Ice,” he explains. “I had never seen anything like it before, and it was all I ever wanted visually. It became a quest for me to find all the gear, film supplies and techniques to try and create something in that way. It led me into the experimental and contemporary art world.”

Mateo has a degree in cinematic arts from the University of New Mexico and draws ideas from life – even the messy parts. 

“I am constantly inspired by the textures of my community and where I come from,” he says. “It’s not always pretty stuff; there’s subject matter that is ripe with contention… extraction capitalism vs. clean air and water, for example.” 

While the process for each show is different, the Galindos say the best part of working together is the ability to flow ideas whenever.

“We can share ideas freely when they happen, which leads to a collaborative brainstorming that is sometimes useful,” says Mateo. “We also have open communication throughout the day, and that helps when you’re trying to work quickly on a project.”

Malinda adds that the couple also balance each other out; Mateo is artistic and great with technology, while Malinda researches and focuses on communication. 

Visit atomicculture.org and mateogalindo.com for more information.