In 2004, Aida Aydinyan embarked on what some called an unachievable mission: to provide local elementary and middle school-aged children with European-style music instruction.
She was appointed by Joseph Hull, president of the Barthelmes Foundation, executive director of the Barthelmes Conservatory, and she said that even some musicians didn't believe in the possibility of creating a rigorous, well-rounded, college prep music "schola" in Tulsa.
"We started out of a room at OSU-Tulsa, which I was sharing with three other doctoral research assistants, and had my very first and most providential meetings there with people who will later become the Conservatory's core team: Kevin Jackson, Dana Maher, Terry Pollak, Dr. Teresa Reed and Dr. Joseph Rivers," said Aydinyan.
Five years later, not only has Barthelmes been successful in providing outstanding music education to its students, but, in addition, it will graduate two students this year, and both of them are destined for the music programs at their chosen universities.
Bo Willis is a violin student accepted to University of Tulsa music department on a full scholarship, and Aidan Matthews is a piano student who has been accepted to Hampshire College, a private, liberal arts college in Amherst, Mass. The college is known for it alternative curriculum and is considered one of the top undergraduate institutions in the country.
"All (of Barthelmes') 63 scholarship students are unique and have fascinating personal stories," said Aydinyan. "However, two of them ... are the first two students to be graduating from the Conservatory Music School program but also that these very first graduating students have been accepted to higher education institutions because of the Conservatory. These amazing and significant happenings deserve to be recorded and achieved.
"It is an incredible feeling to realize that we have invested in the future of these scholarship students and the pride derived from the fact that we indeed prepared them for success in college and performing arts field," she said.
And while the conservatory may have gotten off to a rocky start, it has maintained its mission of providing quality music education to as many students as possible. Each of the students attending the conservatory is there on scholarship, and by taking the financial burden away from their parents, the conservatory is able to offer all students the same quality education.
On May 19, Barthelmes will celebrate its fifth anniversary and the graduation of two of its students with a recital at (location and time).
Last year, Aydinyan had plans to move the conservatory from its home at 708 S. Boston Ave. to a bigger space in the Avanti building at 810 S. Cincinnati. Plans have been put on hold in light of the recession, but Aydinyan said the gloomy economy has not prevented the school from accepting new students and providing them with full scholarships to attend the conservatory.
She said the school is looking for new students and holding auditions now, and parents wishing to schedule auditions for their children may call 794-0330 or visit www.tulsabartmusic.com.
Line by Line
Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S. Rockford Road, opens two exhibits this weekend, "From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci: A Century of Italian Drawings from the Prado" and "Peggy Preheim: Little Black Book" Sunday, May 17.
Both of the exhibits are small, which is partly while they are being presented together, said Philbrook's Executive Director Rand Suffolk.
In addition, Suffolk said, Philbrook saw an opportunity to bring into its space two exhibits that focus on drawing as a medium, comparing and contrasting work created centuries ago to that being created present day.
"For some reason, I think people consider drawing as simply a draft for something else or less challenging than painting or other media. But I would hazard to guess that drawing is incredibly difficult. The works in these exhibits are things of true beauty and unbelievable in their technical virtuosity," said Suffolk.
Each exhibit is distinct, but together, they present an interesting view of how the same tools and medium were used by artists centuries ago, compared to how they are used today.
The Prado exhibit displays 70 16th century Italian drawings from some of the most important artists of that time, offering examples from Mannerism to the early Baroque period. Included in the exhibit are detailed studies for commissioned works, as well as intimate primi pensieri, quick sketches that capture the inspiration of the moment.
"Little Black Book" contains 75 drawings, painting, sculptural objects and photographs, created between 1984 and 2007.
The artist is best known for her small, exquisitely detailed drawings on paper, but the range of work included offers a total examination of the artist and her work.
The exhibits run from May 17 to July 26. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm. And, remember, every second Sunday of the month, admission is free. More at www.philbrook.org.
Marty Coleman was an artist long before he was the "Napkin Dad."
Even so, it's his miniature drawings on paper napkins, originally intended to brighten his daughters' lunches, which have earned him nationwide attention.
Coleman started drawing simple pictures on napkins and accompanying them with quotes in 1998, when, after being laid off from his job as a graphic designer, it became his responsibility to make his daughters' lunches before school.
The napkins exhibited a simple picture, accompanied by a funny or thought-provoking quote, and were a surprise to his daughters each day.
It was mostly a nice gesture to his kids, Coleman said, but he also acknowledges that, contained in those little drawings, were life lessons that he hoped they'd carry with them after lunch was over.
"I drew things I thought they needed to learn but would never sit down and listen to me lecture about," Coleman said. "I was also writing things that I wanted to teach myself."
He stopped drawing them in 2004, when his youngest daughter, Chelsea, graduated high school. He started scanning his napkins and uploading them onto the photo-sharing site Flickr in 2005 and, after receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, started a blog in 2008 called "The Napkin Dad Daily)".
Coleman has been drawing ever since, and he's self-published a book of his drawings, called The Napkin Dad's Book of Absorbent Ideas, as well as gift items, like coffee mugs and t-shirts. He's a full-time artist and photographer.
On Thursday, May 14, Coleman opens an exhibit of his napkin drawings, all created in the last three months, at Double Shot Coffee Co., 1730 S. Boston. The opening reception is from 6-8pm and will feature music by Coleman's daughter Chelsea. For more about the man and the exhibit, visit www.martycoleman.com or napkindad.blogspot.com.
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