Themes of Tulsa

We only had time to pursue a few of the flavors and highlights of Tulsa today.

The first was Southwestern art and Indian artifacts, housed in a museum started by a man named Thomas Gilcrease, who was 1/16 Cherokee, which enabled his family to live on a Cherokee allotment at the turn of the last century, and on which oil was struck. Money poured in.

Gilcrease used it to buy art, and the museum  considers itself to house the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West, along with a collection of Native American art and artifacts.

If only they allowed photography! But trust me, it was a very strong collection and beautifully displayed. His home was on the grounds of the museum and he is buried there also, with a great view of Tulsa.

Then, there is music. We explored the wonderful Woody Guthrie Center. This famous Oklahoman came of age in the terrible dust bowl, which shaped a lot of his music and sent him riding the rails to find a better world. He was a tremendous force in the music world, but enormously important in the world of social activism and social justice.

Many followed in his footsteps and honor his legacy. Couldn’t take pictures again, but we might all benefit from revisiting his work. A man with a mission.

And lastly, there is an architecture story in Tulsa. You may also find it surprising that downtown Tulsa is a treasure-house of Art Deco buildings. As they put it, “Tulsa and Art Deco came of age together. The young city was experiencing unprecedented growth and prosperity in the Roaring Twenties, just as the Art Deco movement came into vogue. Flush with oil money, prominent Tulsans started building the skyscrapers that would spur one of the preeminent Art Deco collections in the United States.”

We only had time to explore one, but the one looms before you as you drive down a main street in town – the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. Built in 1929, it is a wonderful and dramatic example of the style. The sanctuary reminded us a lot of the Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium.

Outside, we found a small gathering of food trucks and a lone musician. Portland has nothing to worry about, but it all did smell good!

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