The students at Tulsa Girls Art School Project had no idea they were in the presence of greatness when Joe Andoe walked through their door one afternoon last June.
What they did know was that an artist in New York City, who was originally from their neck of the woods, was interested in their work. So much so that he walked out of their studio with more than $2,400 in art that they created. He bought a painting from each girl.
He used those paintings as inspiration for t-shirts that he's created and will sell to benefit TGAS at a show on Thurs., Aug. 20 at Dwelling Spaces, 119 S. Detroit Ave.
He has hand painted 100 t-shirts and will sell them for $100 each (they're worth at least $2,500 each, he said), donating all of the proceeds to TGAS. Also on display and on sale for $100 each will be paintings by TGAS students.
Andoe, who hails from northeast Tulsa, has earned international acclaim for his large-scale paintings and his book Jubilee City.
Following his June exhibit at Aberson Exhibits and a proclamation by Mayor Kathy Taylor that June 24 be "Joe Andoe Day" in Tulsa, Andoe and his mother went to Ziegler's to have the declaration framed, and someone there suggested he wander across the street to Matt Moffett's "little girls' school."
TGAS was invented in 2007 by Moffett and Mona Pittenger to provide art education to young girls, aged about seven to 10, who hail from inner-city and underserved public schools and wouldn't otherwise be provided the opportunity to engage in the arts.
There is room for 24 girls in the school, and Moffett, along with volunteers, teaches them after school and during the summer. The school, using money received from the Tulsa Community Foundation and local donors, provides transportation to and from class, supplies and snacks. Every month, the girls host an exhibit, showing and selling their work. Half of the proceeds go into a scholarship account for each girl, and half go back into the school.
Andoe said, when he entered the school, he and his mother were at once impressed by the girls' polite behavior and by the work they were doing.
"They have this peg board, a gallery space, where the girls could sell their work," said Andoe. "I was looking at it, and I picked out one and said, 'I'll buy this one.' Then I looked at the painting next to that one and thought, 'Well, she's going to feel bad if I buy this girl's painting and not hers.' Then looked at next girl's painting and I said, 'Matt, just sell me one of each.'"
Moffett said the girls were so excited and grateful that someone who'd made his career as an artist was interested enough in them to pay a visit and buy their work.
Later, Andoe said, he was on the phone with Dwelling Spaces owner Mary Beth Babcock who asked him if he'd be interested in designing a shirt to sell at her store.
Instead, he suggested designing 100 shirts that she could sell as a benefit for TGAS.
"It was just another example of my mouth writing a check my ass can't cash," said Andoe. "I thought I'd draw a little flower with a marker or something on each one and sign it. But I got wrapped up; I got carried away.
Whoever buys these things for $100 apiece will certainly get their money's worth. I sell things for $25,000 that I don't put this much work into."
Andoe drew his inspiration for the shirts from the paintings he purchased from the TGAS girls, many of which he gave to his friends and family. He kept two for himself.
At the opening at Dwelling Spaces, the first 100 patrons will be given numbered tickets and purchase their shirts as they walk through the door. Also available for purchase will be 100 flowers painted by TGAS students (also $100 each), prints by Andoe and his autobiography. Food will be provided by Elote CafÈ and Catering.
"Art is about empathy," said Andoe. "The way people relate to art is something akin to, in nursery, when one baby cries, then they all start to cry. Or when one person yawns it makes another person yawn. When you're an artist and you feel something and you put it down on canvas, there's a good chance you can make someone else feel the same way you do, without words. I figured if these girls could paint and they had this (opportunity), the ripple effects would be real positive in their community."
"This has been a huge blessing for us," said Moffett.
"I'm just really happy to do it. I'm happy to give back to Tulsa, too," said Andoe. "They gave me all that money for that mural (in the BOK Center). Now someone will get to have a nice piece of mine for next to nothing."
Girls, Girls, Girls
The Girlie Show, a two-day exhibit of work by all-female Oklahoma artists in Oklahoma City recently released a call for entries.
The show dates are Nov. 6-7 at the Farmer's Public Market building in downtown OKC. The deadline for applications is Aug. 21. Applications can be downloaded at www.thegirlieshow.net.
There are only 40 spaces available for this juried show, but, booth sharing is permitted.
For more information or questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, Aug. 23, Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S. Rockford Road, opens "Auspicious Vision: Edward Wales Root and American Modernism."
"From 1902 to 1953, Edward Wales Root amassed a collection of contemporary American art, which became the cornerstone of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute collection with his bequest of 227 works in 1957.
"'Auspicious Vision' surveys Root's wide-ranging interests in such artists as Maurice Prendergast, Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and more," according to Philbrook releases.
The exhibition was organized by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art of Utica, New York. The national tour sponsor for the exhibition is the MetLife Foundation. The exhibit will hang through Nov. 29. More at www.philbrook.org.
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