AHHA moment

The recently opened Hardesty Arts Center is the crown jewel of Tulsa’s Brady Arts District renaissance.



Part of the Hardesty Arts Center exterior is made from Cor-Ten steel, a steel alloy that creates a rusted, weathered look.

(page 1 of 2)

There was a time when the area just north of the railroad near downtown Tulsa was called the Brady District.

Today, the name Brady is rarely uttered without the word “Arts” after it.

The space, stretching from East Archer Street on the south to Interstate 244 on the north, and from South Boulder Avenue to ONEOK Field, is known for its artistic flair, including the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery; Brady Artists Studio; Living Arts of Tulsa; Tulsa Glassblowing Studio; and Mathews Warehouse, which houses the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education.

The newest building is one that hopes to be a bridge for the entire arts community. Standing on the northeast corner of Archer and South Boston Avenue, the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa’s Hardesty Arts Center — or AHHA for short — had its grand opening Dec. 16.

It now houses the council’s offices and active arts areas such as studios and classrooms.  

The entire structure was designed with arts and culture in mind, says Ken Busby, AHCT executive director and CEO. His instructions to the architects were “iconic on a budget.”

The west side of the building is made from Cor-Ten steel, a steel alloy that causes a layer of rust to form in a few months, creating a weathered look and eliminating the need for paint. Thus, the new building already reveals shades of brown and orange.

A wall of windows along Archer is actually folding doors that open to a creative studio.

“People will be able to stroll along the sidewalk and have an arts experience,” Busby says.

The front facade is a metal mesh made of die-cut steel panels — not only to provide a modern look, but also to create some relief from direct sun for artists and to cast artistic, circular shadows on the floor.

Inside, the gallery space leads to more windows and a courtyard, with sculptures and a stage for performances. Anchor points have been built into the ceiling to accommodate a hanging sculpture up to 2,000 pounds.

The four floors house a variety of studios and classrooms, including a wood shop; children’s lab; film and lecture hall; research library; 2-, 3- and 4-D classrooms; and a public photography studio.

An artist’s deck wraps around the building to provide outdoor inspiration, and a party deck on the third floor is available for weddings and party rentals.

On the top floor, artists in residence have studios where they can work, teach and learn the business of art. Their studios look out over a roof of red, yellow and green sedum — a beautiful, floral scene and a way to incorporate nature into the building, Busby says.

The concrete and steel building is meant to get messy, and Busby envisions that several hundred schoolchildren and adults will be able to work and play in the 42,000-square-foot building every day.

Not only is the Brady Arts District location beneficial for arts synergy, it also allows the Hardesty Arts Center to be close to the areas that need art most, Busby says.

“It’s an easy distance for the people who have the least access to the arts,” Busby says. “Our idea is to be transformative because the arts do change people’s lives.”

Ken Busby, Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa executive director, with Kathy McRuiz, Hardesty Arts Center director, surrounded by several pieces of art from the “Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma” exhibit that runs through Feb. 16 at the center.

The AHCT still owns its former home, the 12,000-square-foot Harwelden Mansion. It will continue to house partner agencies, including the Tulsa Children’s Chorus, Chamber Music Tulsa, LOOK Musical Theatre and the Hispanic American Foundation.

The Mayfest office has taken over the former AHCT administrative space. The American Institute of Architects continues to office from the Harwelden carriage house, and the mansion continues to be available for event rentals.

Busby began the project of fundraising for the Hardesty Arts Center four years ago. He and the campaign cabinet already have raised $15 million, enough to cover the $12.6 million construction project. His goal is to raise about $3 million more to pay for additional programming, expanded staff for the gallery and education programs, and an endowment.

Central to the fundraising campaign was Chairwoman Billie Barnett. The lead gifts are from The Hardesty Family Foundation, E. Ann Graves, The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Jean Ann and Tom Fausser, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Raymond & Bessie Kravis Foundation, The Mary K. Chapman Foundation, the City of Tulsa, the Hille Foundation and the Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation.

Such a big undertaking didn’t occur overnight, says Bill Andoe, a board member and past AHCT chairman.

An arts center has been on the agenda since the council’s infancy in the 1960s, but Busby was the force that made it happen.

“A lot of people had their hand in this,” Andoe says. “It took a lot of people to make a dream a reality. But it couldn’t have happened without the vision of Ken Busby. He has been relentless.”

See Out & About for photos of the Hardesty Arts Center’s Dec. 14-16 opening weekend. 

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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
Website »

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Nimrod Journal will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers on Saturday, October 19th, at The University of Tulsa. The conference will feature workshops on fiction, poetry,...

Cost: $10-70

Where:
Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S Gary Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers at The University of Tulsa on October 19th, 2019.   The Conference offers the...

Cost: $10-$70

Where:
TU's Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S. Gary Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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The Karbach Games and Competitions Arena becomes our own center of the universe Saturday at 2:00 PM for true fans of German bier. Why? Because it is ground zero for the Linde Oktoberfest Bavarian...

Cost: $40

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 South Jackson Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: River Parks
Contact Name: Ryan Howell

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Folk Salad Radio Show celebrates its 20th anniversary with a potluck meal followed by a concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer songwriter John Fullbright and several other Tulsa musicians on...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Stone Church
4225 W. Fifth St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Folk Salad Radio Show
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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Join us for Nimrod Write Night, the opening event of our Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers weekend, on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society, 6:30 p.m. Write Night is...

Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Flashes of vivid colors, laughter, dancers whirling around keeping pace with the energetic music, more laughter……this is what you will experience at Guthrie Green this Saturday,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: SAPAF
Telephone: 918-665-6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
Website »

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Signature Symphony at TCC celebrates the work of the late Ernie Fields, a Tulsa icon who had a career as a bandleader and trombonist. Fields’ music developed at a time when R&B, swing,...

Cost: $36 - $58

Where:
VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education
10300 E 81st St
Tulsa, OK  74133-4513
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Sponsor: Signature Symphony at TCC
Telephone: 918-595-7768
Contact Name: Tabitha Littlefield
Website »

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Tulsa in Harmony is a congregation of community choirs, lending their voices in one accord. They sing of their hopes and their faith and aspirations of a more unified community and a more unified...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Website »

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Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

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What's New


3.06: Representing District 73 - Regina Goodwin

A conversation with the state representative about issues in her district, plus what it's like being a Democrat in the state legislature. Plus Tulsa Architect Foundation's Amanda DeCort on the Blue Dome District and new music from Count Tutu.

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Oct. 13

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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CLIFFDIVER on mental health, Tulsa and their new music

A Q&A with the Tulsa band that describes its sound as "Elevator Emo Pop"

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Oklahoma Best-Sellers: Oct. 6

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Henna Roso on food insecurity and songwriting

Members of the Tulsa funk, jazz band discuss their new album and what drives them

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