Tulsa's Local Arts Scene

On this edition of ST, we hear about an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (or OVAC) program that supports young professionals interested in a career as a curator, an art critic, an arts-based journalist, or the like. Through its Oklahoma Art Writing & Curatorial Fellowsship, OVAC has helped several individuals hone their writing and/or curatorial skills, which has culminated in a special "Curatorial Lab" series of exhibits happening at the Henry Zarrow Center for Art & Education in downtown Tulsa.

Our guest is Susan Green, a curator at Philbrook Museum of Art here in Tulsa. She's the local curator for a traveling show now at Philbrook's main campus -- "Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place" will be on view through October 6th. Per the Philbrook website, it is "the most extensive exhibition of Islamic art to be shown in Oklahoma, [and it] represents over 1,200 years of rich artistic creation, illustrating the great geographic expanse of the Islamic world.

Our guests on this edition of ST are Laura Fry, Senior Curator of the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa, and Carolyn Sickles, Executive Dirtector of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. These two outstanding, arts-based organizations are now jointly offering "Recall/Respond," a contemporary arts exhibition that presents work by current Tulsa Artist Fellows as well as TAF alumni.

Many of us living here in Oklahoma -- and indeed, living all over the nation -- are today both pleased and proud to affirm that Joy Harjo, the much-celebrated, 68-year-old writer and musician based in Tulsa, was recently named by the Library of Congress as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, Harjo is the first Native person to be selected for this honorable role. On this edition of StudioTulsa, we listen back to a conversation that we aired with Harjo in 2012, when her well-regarded memoir, "Crazy Brave," had just appeared.

"Babe Ruth's Final Farewell" -- Nathaniel Fein, New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1948, New York, N.Y.; Nathaniel Fein/New York Herald Tribune/Nat Fein Estate.

On this edition of ST, we learn about "Pulitzer Prize Photographs," a moving and far-ranging show on view through July 14th at Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum (and on loan from the Newseum in Washington, DC). Per the Gilcrease wesbite, this exhibtion "brings history to life with the most comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs ever assembled, with images of every prize-winning entry dating back to 1942, when the award was first presented.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with Brad James, the veteran Tulsa-based singer-songwriter (and ace guitarist) who emerged from the fertile Stillwater, Oklahoma, music scene of the 1980s and '90s. A mighty fine new album, "At Fellowship Hall," has just been released by the Brad James Band. Please note that there will be an Album Release Party for this new recording tomorrow night, Saturday the 1st, at Soul City in Tulsa (on 11th Street). The event begins at 9pm, and other well-regarded local musicians are on the bill as well.

StudioTulsa today offers another installment in the ongoing Museum Confidential podcast series, which is a popular collaboration between Public Radio Tulsa and Philbrook Museum of Art. This particular podcast -- taped before a "live" audience back in January -- explores what it actually means to be a curator with Philbrook Museum of Art Chief Curator Catherine Whitney and Gilcrease Museum Senior Curator Laura Fry. Also featuring special cameos by comedian Pete Holmes, "exit" signs, and the National Mustard Museum....

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we learn about Tulsa Little Jam, a popular podcast, concert series, and far-reaching digital media platform that aims to spotlight our community's most talented musicians and singer-songwriters. Tulsa Little Jam will present its Season Two Opening Concert this coming Friday night, the 17th, at Guthrie Green (beginning at 5:30pm). A number of different local bands will be presented -- and filmed -- in live performance, and the concert will be part of the 2019 Mayfest weekend.

Our guest is Keith Elder, who has recently been named the new executive director of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Elder, who will assume his new job in August, comes to the TSO from the Aspen Music Festival and School, which is widely seen as one of America's top classical music festivals. A tuba player by training, Elder was the general manager and vice president in Aspen; he's also worked with the Eastman School of Music and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

More and more people these days are getting interested in -- and are, in fact, adopting -- a plant-based lifestyle. Healthy eating, healthy cooking, healthy living, and just taking more control over one's health, period: these practices all seem to be increasingly "mainstream" in America today. And so, in that spirit, the first-ever Tulsa VegFest will happen on Saturday the 4th at Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa. The event is free to all, running from 10am to 4pm, and it will feature speakers from around the U.S.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the acclaimed poet and writing instructor Quraysh Ali Lansana (born 1964 in Enid, Oklahoma). Now based in Tulsa and recently named a Tulsa Artist Fellow, Lansana has published several books over the years: poetry collections, children's books, edited or co-edited anthologies, textbooks, etc. Long based in Chicago, and greatly influenced by the African-American cultural, social, and political life of that city -- and more generally, by the Black Arts Movement in American life and letters -- Lansana has a new book out.

On this edition of ST, we learn about the nonprofit Harmony Project, a long-running (and highly successful) music-based mentoring program that provides academic tutoring, instruments, and music lessons to at-risk students (in grades K through 12) nationwide. The program was begun in 2001 in Los Angeles -- as a "public-health intervention" -- by Dr. Margaret Martin, who is our guest today. There are by now several different Harmony Project Affiliates -- in New Orleans, Kansas City, East St.

On this edition of ST, we learn about two new plays to be presented on April 19, 20, 26, and 27 at the Nightingale Theater here in Tulsa, at 1416 East 4th Street. Heller Theatre Company recently opted to stage two one-act plays (in a single evening) by a pair of Tulsa-based playwrights in order to continue its ongoing mission to support original dramatic work, and thus Heller is offering "Trade Privileges" (written by David Blakely) and "Niñas de la Tierra" (written and directed by Shadia Dahlal).

This coming Saturday (the 20th) will bring a free, day-long Earth Day Celebration to the Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa; the gathering is to be presented by Tulsa Earth Coalition, Green Country Sierra Club, and OK Roots Music -- and a full schedule is posted here.

We chat with the acclaimed English conductor Matthew Halls, who will be the Guest Conductor for the next Tulsa Symphony Orchestra concert, happening tomorrow night (the 13th) at the Tulsa PAC. The program will feature Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances" as well as works by Strauss and Piazolla. More on this concert is posted here.

Our guest is the well-regarded Pennsylvania-based poet, Ron Silliman, who has written and edited over 30 books, and who is seen as one of the founders of the so-called Language Poetry movement in American literature. A 2003 Literary Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, Silliman also received the Levinson Prize from the Poetry Foundation in 2010 (among many other honors). He'll be reading from and talking about his work tonight (the 11th) as part of the 2nd Annual TulsaLitFest.

Laid Time Table with Cycads (detail) by Beth Lipman

On this edition of ST, we speak with the noted contemporary artist, Beth Lipman, who is known for her intricate and even breathtaking glass work. Her show, "Beth Lipman: Accidental Vestiges," opens today (the 5th) at 108 Contemporary as part of the First Friday Art Crawl in downtown Tulsa. An artist who employs a craft-making process -- and a great deal of glass -- in order to emulate or evoke such traditional "still life" subjects as food, books, and table arrangements, Lipman uses crystal materials in new and thoughtful ways.

Photo by Bernie Guzik

Our guest is the locally based musician and photographer, Bernie Guzik. As a tuba player, the Ohio-born Guzik, who attended Julliard, has peformed with the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Tulsa Symphony, and so forth. Now retired from music, he devotes more and more time to his other longtime passion: photography. Guzik tells us about this passion, which has led him to travel all over the world, documenting vanishing cultures with his camera.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Rubén Rengel, the 22-year-old Venezuelan violinist who won the 2018 Sphinx Competition, which is held annually for talented Black and Latino string players. Rengel will appear in Tulsa on Saturday night, the 16th, with the Signature Symphony at TCC. (More info and details on tickets are here.) On the program, Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin in D major, op. 35, which is a feature for Rengel, as well as Amy Beach's Symphony in E minor (a/k/a "the Gaelic").

On this edition of ST, we learn about The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, which is scheduled to open on the campus of OSU in Stillwater in October of this year. And although it's not yet open, the McKnight Center will soon offer -- from February 25th through March 3rd, with performances in Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Dallas -- its second Chamber Music Festival. This festival will feature intimate soirée performances, a youth concert for area students, master classes for OSU student musicians, and a free community concert (happening in Stillwater on Saturday the 2nd).

On this edition of ST, we're discussing a new production being offered by the Tulsa-based American Theatre Company. It's "Sunday in the Park with George," the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece, which will run from tonight (Friday the 15th) through the 24th at the Tulsa PAC. Based on the familiar Seurat painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," this landmark musical -- which won a Pulitzer Prize and was nominated for ten Tony Awards -- blends the past and the present into a dreamy, beautiful meditation on life, love, and why human beings strive to create art.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we chat with artist Joel Daniel Phillips, who is currently a Tulsa Artist Fellow. A California native, he tells us about his new show, "It Felt Like the Future Was Now," which is on view at Philbrook Downtown through May 19th. Per the Philbrook Downtown website: "Phillips chooses images charged with history. The labor, both physical and emotional, needed to create his graphite drawings is part of what draws the viewer into the work.

Our guest is Catherine Whitney, the Chief Curator and Curator of American Art at Philbrook Musuem of Art here in Tulsa. She tells us about a just-opened, far-reaching exhibit at Philbrook, curated by herself, called "Making Modern America." Featuring 60+ paintings, photographs, design objects, and prints -- and on view through May 26th -- this show explores how U.S. artists working from 1910 to 1960 depicted the dramatic social and environmental changes of this pivotal era.

On this edition of ST, an in-depth chat with Scott Hurst, a longtime artist on the Tulsa scene who will soon present a new exhibition of his work at the Liggett Studio in downtown Tulsa (at 314 So. Kenosha). "Playtime > Discoveries" will feature paintings, collages, and prints that Hurst has created over the past 30 years or so -- many (but not all) of them in the abstract mode. The show opens on Friday the 8th and runs through March 2nd; more info is posted at LiggettStudio.com.

Mayfest -- the downtown Tulsa celebration that's been a spring highlight in our community since the 1970s -- is scheduled this year for May 17th, 18th,and 19th. And as we learn on today's ST, big changes are planned. Our guest is the executive director of Mayfest, Heather Pingry, who tells us that the festival is moving to the Tulsa Arts District (which is located a bit further north of its original location). Pingry adds that this move will also help to fill the gap left by the closure of the Blue Dome Arts Festival.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we learn about "The Gun Show," a critically acclaimed one-person play by the Oregon-based playwright, E.M. Lewis. It's being staged at the Nightingale Theater (1416 East 4th Street) through January 26th by the Midwestern Theatre Troupe, and Ms. Lewis is our guest today. As she tells us, this play aims to candidly and sincerely present both sides of the gun-control issue through a series of distinct yet related scenes or vignettes. More about the play is posted here.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is the Music Director for the Signature Symphony at TCC, Andrés Franco, who also serves as the Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. As the Signature Symphony continues to celebrate its 40th-anniversary season, Franco joins us to promote this organization's next concert. That concert -- titled "Bach & Sons, Inc." -- will happen on Saturday the 26th at the VanTrease PACE, beginning at 7:30pm, and it will feature works by C.P.E. Bach, J.S. Bach, and P.D.Q. Bach.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Tamara Lebak, a Tulsa-based executive coach, organizational development consultant, and minister. She's also an accomplsihed singer-songwriter in the folk/roots/blues/alt-country manner, and she joins us to discuss her new album: "The Psalms Project: Volume 1." As Lebak has written of herself and her music online: "I'm a Universalist minister who believes that the Bible is ultimately about the relentless and persistent love of God.

In recent days, per our year-end custom, we've been offering The Best of StudioTulsa -- i.e., encore presentations of interviews from throughout 2018 across a range of topics and themes. Here's a guide (complete with on-demand audio links) regarding what we have re-aired of late, and when we've re-aired it. On 12/26/18, we offered our February 2018 chat with the author of "Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissan

On this edition of our program, we offer an engaging conversatiuon with Deborah Hunter, a Behavioral Health Rehab Specialist and Case Manager at Family & Children's Services here in Tulsa. She's been with F&CS since 2011, and she is also a longtime and award-winning poet. Interestingly, Hunter also works as a social worker for the Tulsa City-County Library, mainly at the TCCL's Central Branch (and 5th and Denver).

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