Waylon Summers is an animated man. The youngest addition to the 30-year family history that is Lovetts Gallery, he has quite a lot to offer as business partner to father, Jack Summers.
Waxing on what makes their partnership successful, Waylon mused, "I bring a fresh perspective to the business. I provide crazy ideas, while my dad figures out how to make said ideas functional and realistic. He is business savvy, where I am more into the creative side of the deal."
Owners of Lovetts Gallery, Jack and Waylon Summers are in the midst of relocating their business from 41st and Sheridan to 6528 E. 51st Street in the Farm Shopping Center. Lovetts functions as a fine arts gallery and a high-end framing shop.
Around 9,000 patterns of frames are available for custom framing orders with prices and fare ranging from standard black metal framing from $7/foot, to an ornate hand-carved frame, covered in 22 karat gold that starts at $185/foot.
"We choose our product based on what we consider to be applicable to our region. We offer both ends of cost range, with everything in between," said Waylon.
Judging from the array of frames offered at Lovetts, a move to a larger building will be a welcome upgrade for the father/son team. Not only successful framers, their current shop doubles as an exhibition space.
Their gallery is full to overflowing; images of elephants, flowers, Native Americans, and a vast panoramic photograph of land and sky fill the room and create a modern day "Pictures at an Exhibition." Lights activated by motion illuminate the art as you walk by.
The shop is well-organized and the owners obviously have a sensitivity to environment in their shop. Ambient jazz played in the background, while dimmed lighting and the scent of nag champa added to the sensuous experience within.
The Summers hope that moving will increase foot traffic to their store. They have been successful in their borderline Midtown/South Tulsa, industrial location. They now want to share this success with the art community of Tulsa by being more involved.
"The move allows us to display a greater variety and volume of works. We will also have the additional exhibition and event space to bring in educational speakers and demonstrations. After hours social gatherings and artist showings are also possible with the new space," said Waylon.
For 30 years, the Summers have maintained Lovetts at its present location. Waylon's maternal grandfather opened shop in 1978 and asked his son-in-law, Jack Summers, to work with him. At first, Jack avoided the offer, but he soon accepted, and was eventually able to purchase the business for himself.
Waylon and his sister have early memories of growing up in their father's shop.
After college, Waylon was confronted with the dilemma of pursuing his own goals, versus that of the family business.
"I majored in English and philosophy, and didn't really know what to do next so I decided to go ahead and join the business," added Waylon.
Throughout his years in the business, Waylon has noticed an artistic stalemate that continues to this day.
"Oklahoma seems to be stuck in the 1970s. The only work that gets any attention is contemporary abstract expressionism, or southwestern art."
"Most people think of art as things to add to decorative schemes at home. We recognize the business side of this line of work. You have to sell in order to eat. Fortunately for us, this is what we love to do. We believe that you have to enjoy what you do in life," he stated.
Unseen forces are bringing about an artistic renewal in Tulsa, and Waylon, like many others, are taking notice.
"It is extremely exciting to be a part of this resurgence. Lovetts wants to provide exposure for new artists, and also offer our retail art-sales experience as an example to teach emerging artists how to stay afloat in an unsteady art market."
With help from the Tulsa Community Foundation, Jack and Waylon Summers have recently started the "Lovetts Gallery Foundation for the Arts," a nonprofit to fund community programs, grants and artist demonstrations. They are also offering their first annual collegiate art scholarship.
Benefiting undergrad juniors and seniors and graduate art students, this annual, renewable $1000 scholarship is funded by Lovetts patrons. Applicants must submit an original piece, either 2D or 3D in the genre of Native art, western, landscape or wildlife. Traditional or non-traditional interpretations of the subjects are encouraged.
Home, Sweet Home
Waylon and I entered the new site for Lovetts Gallery to the smell of freshly applied primer, and lumber. When asked about the choice to set-up shop in South Tulsa as opposed to Midtown, Waylon responded,
"I live in Midtown, but I like being in the relative middle of Midtown and South Tulsa because, honestly, we've done well here at our 41st and Sheridan location. This new venue in the Farm Shopping Center is not only equally accessible to most of the city, it is a whole lot more room, too."
The new location will be a 5,200 square foot workshop, gallery, exhibition and event space. At 2,400 square feet, the new exhibition space doubles that of the current Lovetts location.
It is a wide-open area that will feature a flat-screen monitor on one wall, two lighted niches in the southwest and southeast corners of the room to display works of art, and a glass front display case to show fine jewelry and smaller antique works.
An art storage room sits behind the exhibition space, where the lighting controller will be. With timers, dimmers and remote controls, the whole lighting scheme will be, in Waylon's words, "tricked out."
Large, walls-on-wheels are stored in the storage room, and these will be used as necessary for exhibits.
The work room for the framers is larger than the current, as well as the front counter, which now elevated, will double as a bar for social events.
"We are scheduled to open April 1, so as you can see, there is still lots of work to do," sighed Waylon.
Yet, Waylon's enthusiasm for his business is admirable, and there is no doubt in my mind that Lovetts at The Farm will be up and running for its month of opening events in April.
Lovetts will celebrate the opening for the entire month of April. A grand opening will be held on Thursday, April 24. Other events planned from April include a book signing and gallery showing by internationally renowned watercolorist Steve Hanks, an "Artist Exploration" with large format panoramic photographer Claudia Patrick and a presentation on Contemporary Native Artists given by Christina Burke, Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at Philbrook in May.
Share this article: