Friday, January 8, 2010

Tulsa Art Deco museum planned

Up in Tulsa, local artist William Franklin and others have planned an official Tulsa Art Deco museum, dubbed Decopolis. For now they've launched a preliminary website at and a fundraiser event is planned Feb. 27th in the ONEOK Plaza (which by the way, is NOT an Art Deco building). Franklin is the VP of TulsaNow, and posts there and at other sites, including the OkMet forums, as TheArtist.

The beginning goal is to set up a network of people dedicated to the preservation of Tulsa's Art Deco heritage and to do traveling exhibits that can be hosted in buildings throughout downtown Tulsa. Currently they're operating under the umbrella of the Tulsa Arts & Humanities Council until their own 501(c)(3) status is approved. Franklin's eventual goal is to operate Decopolis as a museum featuring an interactive Art Deco streetscape, featuring typical Art Deco merchants like a coffee shop cafe, a martini lounge, a fine arts gallery (perhaps his own), and a town square.

Is it doable? We shall see, will be very interesting to watch. It's exciting to see fellow Internet specimen turn the computer off occasionally and actually do something out in the community. So often we talk about what needs to happen here and there and so on, but few are willing to actually make stuff happen when it's so easy to blog and chat on forums endlessly about our ideas--that's why I like to make a point to attend meetings in OKC when I can and to meet readers in person over coffee. So kudos to William and his group for going out and trying to make a really cool vision happen. At the least, hopefully an increased appreciation for Tulsa's Art Deco heritage can result in no more Deco jewels being lost to the 21st Century architectural wonder known as the parking lot.

Speaking of people we know making a difference in their downtown communities, wouldn't it be cool if we had a group do something awesome to chronicle OKC history as well? There is at least as much historic building heritage in OKC as there is in Tulsa (albeit not so much in the distinctive Deco style), most of which today only exists in the form of pictures sadly. Enormous mountains of historic photos have been donated to the Oklahoma County Historical Society and they just warehouse them. Nobody ever gets to appreciate the vast collections of OKC history that they have. In Tulsa, the Tulsa County Historical Society used to have a vast online library with thousands of historic images, but now they've taken them off and you have to visit the Travis Mansion on Peoria to see them. What if we in OKC could swing a website source for historic OKC knowledge? Just a thought.

For the meantime, some great online resources for history already exist. You'll see the occasional foray into downtown history on here, on ImagiNative America, and OKC Central, but Steve Lackmeyer's other blog, OKC History, and Doug Dawg are history-dominant downtown blogs.


Max said...

'Distinctly Oklahoma' magazine (one of those weird publications that just magically starts showing up in the mail and you don't know why) has a really good piece on downtown OKC's art deco, with some beautiful shots of First National, City Hall, The Montgomery, the Santa Fe Depot, etc. Worth taking a look at if you haven't seen it.

Oklahoma City definitely doesn't do enough to tie together this stuff and really encourage the preservation of history and styles. We have some real works of art in architecture here that I think most just don't really notice. Not to mention some old hybrid styles that always evoke OKC to me (some of our deco/eclectic hybrid architecture especially).

Yes, I'm an architecture nerd, and I love OKC's. The gaps just need to be filled in respectfully and more attention needs to be paid to these treasures we do have.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

I definitely want to try and get a hand on some of those you know if they have a website perhaps?

I think that an appreciation of OKC's heritage is lacking because people sometimes make the wrong assumption that we're too new to have a strong heritage. When yes, we're a very new city, but we still have a strong a heritage as most older cities. Our history is above-average already.

And then even more mistakenly a lot of people are under the impression that the heritage of OKC is in constantly building new, so why preserve? Shortsighted mentality, although it may be rooted in some truth.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

And I just meant "some truth" from a standpoint of how I can see where people look at the history of OKC and think that's the common theme.. not from the standpoint of being the right thing to do.

Max said...

Short on pictures, but here's the article online. The pictures are much more high quality and there are more of them in the print version.

Anonymous said...

The Deco Ball will be held in the ONG Building (which is Deco), not the ONEOK building. For more info go to facebook and search DECOPOLIS.