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Philbrook Downtown


by Kelsey Karper

For 75 years, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa has presented dynamic exhibitions and programming from the iconic Italian villa-inspired campus. In June 2013, Philbrook opened a new satellite space in downtown Tulsa, just three miles away, with a focus on modern, contemporary and Native American art. The museum seeks new opportunities and new audiences by launching Philbrook Downtown, located in the heart of the burgeoning Brady Arts District. Two transformational gifts spurred this venture. In 2007, Philbrook secured the Eugene B. Adkins collection of Native American and Southwestern art, which it shares with the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. This gift included approximately 1,800 objects and solidified the museum’s collection as one of the most comprehensive surveys of 20th century Native American art anywhere. To accommodate this expansion, Tulsabased philanthropist George Kaiser offered the renovated 30,000 square foot downtown warehouse space. The museum was designed by New York-based firm Gluckman Mayner Architects. In opening remarks, Director Rand Suffolk noted that the museum’s efforts to diversify its audience are working, with 40% of the museum’s audience in the last three years made up of minorities. The new acquisitions, identified as such on wall labels, reflect a desire to grow in response to their audience, showing a new focus on collecting works by women and artists of color. Philbrook curators drew primarily from Philbrook’s permanent collection for the opening exhibitions, which showcase


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recent acquisitions along with works that had not been exhibited previously due to space restrictions at the main Philbrook villa. Also on display at Philbrook Downtown, the curators offer fresh perspectives in the presentation and interpretation of the collection. The Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig Gallery on the first floor of the museum now permanently houses the Philbrook’s modern and contemporary collection. The first floor also includes space for rotating special exhibitions, such as Sirens of the Southwest, an exhibition of work by Georgia O’Keefe which remains on display through November 10. Curator Lauren Ross’s inaugural Meinig Gallery exhibition, Opening Abstraction, features abstract works from the 20th and 21st century arranged in three themes: The Organic, The Psyche, and The Built Environment. Ross combined permanent collection with borrowed artworks to capture artwork since 1945, including acclaimed artists such as Willem de Kooning, Richard Serra, and Robert Rauschenberg, along with relatively new names like Rachel Whiteread and Sabrina Gschwandtner. The second floor of Philbrook Downtown consists of three spaces, including the Jack and Ann Graves Gallery for Native American art, the Adkins Study Center, and collections storage. The opening exhibition, Identity & Inspiration: 20th Century Native American Art curated by Christina E. Burke, offers a refreshing presentation of the collection. Rather than organizing the works in the standard chronological or geographical orders, Burke opted to present them in four themes: Preservation, Adaptation, Innovation, and Integration. This arrangement

highlights the motivations behind the work and draws connections among themes which have endured across generations. While traditional materials and techniques are well-represented with objects like a Northwest Coast Chilkat blanket and a highly detailed woven Pomo treasure basket, the exhibition also includes plenty of non-traditional approaches, such as the Pop Art-influenced beaded bracelets by Marcus Amerman (Choctaw) depicting images of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Upcoming exhibitions at Philbrook Downtown include In a Glorious Light: Masterworks from the Taos Society of Artists September 6, 2013-March 16, 2014. For more information, visit n Kelsey Karper is associate director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and editor of Art Focus Oklahoma.

Profile for Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

Art Focus Oklahoma, September/October 2013  

September/October 2013 Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Art Focus Oklahoma, September/October 2013  

September/October 2013 Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Profile for ovac