Philbrook goes contemporary

The museum’s downtown location juxtaposes modern and Native American art.



Philbrook’s new downtown location allows the museum to display large, contemporary pieces for the first time. The upstairs houses the contemporary Native American collection of Eugene B. Adkins.

The buzz is loud for The Philbrook Museum of Art’s new downtown location at 116 E. Brady St. in the Mathews Warehouse.

The Brady Arts District space is exciting because it allows the museum to display large contemporary art pieces for the first time. For all its majesty, the original Philbrook is limited in its display space for oversized art.

Upstairs is what you could describe as the “cornerstone” of Philbrook Downtown. It’s where Christina Burke, curator of Native American and Non-Western art, has developed the “Identity and Inspiration” exhibit featuring the contemporary Native American collection of Eugene B. Adkins.

A successful businessman and native of Tulsa, Eugene Brady Adkins (1920–2006) spent nearly four decades acquiring his extraordinary collection of Native American and Southwestern art. His vast assemblage includes paintings, photographs, jewelry, baskets, textiles, and ceramics by many of the Southwest’s most renowned artists and artisans, many of which are affiliated with the Taos Society.

Philbrook acquired the coveted and massive Adkins collection in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Burke says.

“Museums nationwide competed for this collection,” Burke says.

The collection is unique because it is well documented with letters from the artists, receipts and loan documentation, she says.

“(The documentation brings) the art to life and tells what Adkins was looking for and why,” Burke explains. “He also kept the blue ribbons won by the artists at juried art shows. He loved the Southwest and visited frequently, but always brought the work back to Oklahoma. He was voracious in his appetite for the work of the Southwest.”

The “Identity and Inspiration” exhibition will be on display long term.

On the ground floor is the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig Gallery, which serves as a permanent home to Philbrook’s modern and contemporary collection. 

The open space is perfect for larger pieces, says Lauren Ross, the Nancy E. Meinig curator of modern and contemporary art.

“I have always wanted to display the pieces that are 9 feet tall, but we couldn’t at the Villa because of the limited space,” she says.

The contemporary works of abstract artist Willem de Kooning and glassblower Josiah McElheny are on display in the “Opening Abstraction” exhibit, among other striking pieces.

Works by expressionist painter and sculptor Adolph Gottlieb, the first to be shown by Philbrook, are on display through Aug. 25 in the William S. Smith Charitable Trust Gallery.

“Sirens of the Southwest” in the Irene and Sanford Burnstein Gallery features the work of influential 20th-century women artists who worked in the American Southwest. It is on display through Nov. 10. 

“This exhibit is about a circle of women writers, painters and thinkers who responded to the Pueblo culture through their craft,” Ross says. “What was special about Taos and Santa Fe made it into their work.”

The best part about Philbrook Downtown? You can get in free during the First Friday Arts Crawl, a monthly event sponsored by the Brady Arts District Business Association, says Jeff Martin, Philbrook’s online communities manager. On the first Friday of the month, Philbrook Downtown will stay open until 9 p.m. with a cash bar, music and events.

Regular hours are noon-7 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, and noon-5 p.m., Sunday.

Oh, Tulsa! Biennial at Living Arts of Tulsa

Oh, Tulsa! Biennial Co-Chair Melanie Fry chose the theme for the second biennial juried art show at Living Arts of Tulsa because she’s a self-proclaimed Tulsaphile.

“I love Tulsa,” says Fry, who is chairing the show with Diane Salamon. “But the artists can interpret the city how they want to, and I anticipate it will be wildly interpreted.”

Oh, Tulsa! is a juried exhibition open to artists 18 and older who currently live or have lived in Tulsa. 

“It will be a city biennial much like other cities have, says Paula Cortner, Living Arts’ director of development and public relations. “Every two years, the best artists that the city has to offer submit (their work), but with a twist. The biennial will have our city as the star. Tulsa will be celebrated or critiqued, beloved or bemoaned. It is a new tradition worth celebrating.”

The biennial will display paintings, drawings, installations, jewelry, performance works, videos and photography. About 100 artists are expected to exhibit, including Cathy Deuschle, Cynthia Marcoux, Chuck and Annie Tomlins, and Christopher Westfall.

The competitive show will bestow three artists with uniquely Tulsa awards of excellence and prize gifts, Cortner says.

Current Deputy Director of the New Mexico Arts Council Ann Weisman, a native Tulsan now residing in New Mexico, will be the judge.

Fry encourages attendance during the show’s opening night, which is during the First Friday Arts Crawl at 6 p.m., Aug. 2.

“It will be the best party of the night,” she says. “The artists will be there. We’ll have food and great art for sale.”

Biennial art will be on display Aug. 2-23 at Living Arts of Tulsa, 307 E. Brady St. Admission is free.

Also this month:

Fourth annual Heller Shorts Festival: “Let Them Eat Short-cake!” This evening of short plays includes “Monday after Work” by Glenda Silvey; “Secret Recipe” by Kelley Friedberg; “Tick Tock Love” by Jeffrey Wetterman; “Will This Table Work for You?” by Lindsey Lewis; “Miss Appleside” by Jillian July Summers; “Rebecca’s Remnants” by Michael Massey; “Next” by George Romero; and “Let’s Make A Meal” by Camie Hayes. 7:30 p.m., Aug. 15-17, and 2 p.m., Aug. 18, at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 S. Quaker Ave. Tickets are $10. Call 918-746-5065.

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