Wherever Joseph Gierek sets up shop, things happen. Good things.
Okay, maybe it's coincidence, and maybe there aren't enough data, but still.
"I was on Cherry Street since 1999," he said of his recently vacated space. "It's unbelievable how much it's changed since 1999. It's transformed."
Gierek found a space on E. 11th Street and hung his shingle there, selling fine art to a growing base of repeat customers.
"I'd been on that street for a long time, and I enjoyed my time there -- had a lot of great neighbors, had a lot of good friends -- but I was looking at 'Where do I want to be in the next ten years?'" he said.
After looking around for a new space, he settled on the place he's occupying now at 1342 E. 11th St.
Why does a successful art broker pull up stakes from a hip location and move a few blocks away? Several reasons.
"I was just ready for a change," he said. "That was the main reason." And finding a good space helped, as well.
"I ran across this space in December and liked it," Gierek said. "I thought, 'I can see myself being here.' And also, I really like the street. I liked the space, I like the street. This is the old Route 66, as well. We're easy to find -- we're just next to the Meadow Gold sign. I'm also really excited about what's happening on this street. All the way down to TU, there are just pockets where people have gone in. There's a great coffee shop up the street, and just the building over has leased out a couple of spaces. It's an up-and-coming area, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
And actually, the Route 66 associations may be the thing he's most excited about.
"From what I gather, we're at the edge of the Pearl District," he said. "But to me, the Pearl District is kind of 6th Street and Peoria. But since we're on Route 66, I'd rather consider it the Route 66 District."
Having heard from several people about renewed interest in the historic cross-country road, Gierek wasn't sure if he bought that, but a visiting couple a few months ago, cameras slung around their necks, changed his mind.
Obviously tourists, the couple started talking with Gierek, who asked where they were from.
"Norway," came the answer. When he asked what on earth brought them to Tulsa, they said, "Route 66. We flew into Chicago, and we're driving to LA."
Having been open since mid-June, Gierek is chugging along and doing his thing, which includes looking for, buying, and selling art, but also, as a result of occupying an old building, general maintenance.
"This is an 83-year-old building, and so I've gotten the things that come with an 83-year-old building," he said. "It delayed a few things. You come in one day and say, 'What's this water doing on the floor?' so there's a plumbing issue you have to deal with. But the wraps were off the windows in June."
Having been in business in Santa Fe and other locations prior to his 1999 relocation to Cherry Street, it is apparent from listening to Gierek that he knows what he's doing, though that's not all that surprising.
"I've been doing this a little over 30 years, and so, fortunately, I have a lot of artists that I've dealt with for quite a long period of time," he said.
When choosing what art to display and which artists to support, Gierek says it's a delicate balance.
"As far as what we have, it's got to be something, number one, that I like," he said. "It's got to be good work that I like, no matter what the medium may be, and no matter what the subject matter may be. But then a close number two is 'Do I think I can sell it?' There have been a lot of things that I've liked, but I just haven't been able to move. So it's just that balancing act between commerce, because we're not a non-profit."
Currently, Gierek is touting the opening of James Andrew Smith's "Honest Beauty" exhibit at the gallery, which he hopes sells well (as Smith most certainly does, as well), but admits that he doesn't really have any way to judge whether that will happen.
"I just never know what's going to sell, who's going to sell," he said. "With this show of James', let's say, hypothetically, that all of his paintings were the same size and the same price. I might choose one and say, 'This is going to be the first one that sells.' More times than not, I'm wrong, because it doesn't matter what I like. It's what the client likes and what they bring to the table."
And that element of the unknown seems to be an aspect of curation that Gierek enjoys, as it allows him to interact with lots of people, but also, he gets the chance to expose clients and customers to new art -- maybe something outside their comfort zone.
"You listen to what their needs are and then show them what we have," he said. "It's very much, 'Well, do you like this? Do you like that?' And if they do, we've got cargo vans where we can run it out on approval in their house, because it's always going to look different in your house than in the gallery."
He made an analogy between liking a certain type of art and liking a certain type of music, but everyone gets exposed to a new band every now and then. At Joseph Gierek Fine Art, it's often Gierek who's pushing the new stuff.
"'Hey, have you ever thought of a departure from that?' Sometimes they're receptive to that, sometimes they're not," he said. "So we have a variety, and I like it like that."
That variety is on display in Gierek's new digs. And to officially kick things off, he's hosting an opening reception for the Smith show this Thursday, Sept. 19, from 5-8pm. Lola's Gypsy Caravan food truck will be across the street, and Charlie Redd & the Full Flava Kings will be playing, as well.
A fun night starts what Gierek hopes will be a fun new chapter at the new shop.
"I'm excited to see what happens," he said.
Legally Blonde: The Musical
Most people are familiar with Legally Blonde, even if they haven't seen the Reese Witherspoon flick. It's a cute, fish-out-of-water story about a sorority girl who goes to law school to be near douche boyfriend and wackiness and romance ensue.
Most Tulsans are likely familiar with the promo image of Theatre Tulsa's upcoming production with Kelsey Lutjen dressed in pink and holding a little dog. But that photo was shot long before the show was cast, according to Blonde director and TT president Sara Phoenix.
"She was in my production of Oliver last spring, and that's the first time I'd worked with her," Phoenix said of the Tulsa Community College sophomore. "I thought she had the perfect look for Elle, but I didn't know if she had it in her to be Elle. I thought she'd be great in the show as a Delta Nu, as an ensemble member."
So Phoenix approached Lutjen about posing for the photo, as it was then time for TT to begin working on the brochure for the 91st season.
"I told her, 'I want to be really clear that this doesn't mean you've got the role,' Phoenix said. "I didn't know until the last callback."
There were, in fact, three callbacks because Phoenix had a rare problem -- she had too many people to choose from.
"I couldn't decide," she said. "And I couldn't really case the other roles until I knew who I was casting as Elle. The challenge with this show wasn't, 'We need to find somebody.' There were too many options. And it's a nice problem to have."
As to why so many people auditioned speaks to the quality of the show (and the fact that the three others she considered for the lead role accepted other roles, which is unusual, since many times, someone who doesn't get cast as the lead opts not to do the show at all), Phoenix said.
"The title pulled a lot of people in," she said. "It's such a great show. I think it's a very smart, funny, witty musical that even people who aren't theater people would love. I went to see it in New York and thought, 'How fun. This will be a cute show,' but I was blown away by how stacked the show is -- incredible harmonies, and great music."
Phoenix and company plan to wow Tulsa audiences just like she herself was wowed on Broadway.
"Just when you think you've seen everything the show can do, there's something else. Like there's a whole number that's done with jump ropes," she said, excitement audible in her voice. "They're jumping and singing. And it's not just regular old jump rope jumping. And there are 20 people in that number. I really think that this is a show that people need to see."
The best part of it all to Phoenix, president of the oldest community theater this side of the Mississippi?
"People need to know that these are local, volunteer actors who are creating great theater," she said.
Omigod, you guys.
Legally Blonde: The Musical opens Friday, Sept. 20 at 8pm in the John H. Williams Theater at the PAC. The show runs Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, then next weekend through Sunday, Sept. 29. Tickets at myticketoffice.com or 918-596-7111.
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Día de los Muertos Arts Festival 2013 Call for Art Work
In the run up to the Day of the Dead festival, Living Arts is asking for submissions for consideration for the festival poster. Living Arts is also looking for submissions for works to fill the 15 mural spaces. For the mural project, artists are asked to create personal interpretations of the spirit of the Day of the Dead. Deadline for submissions for either is (email email@example.com or call 619-550-7382) Oct. 1 by 5pm.
The Signature Symphony opens Dr. Barry Epperley's final season with a classics concert featuring the music of Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky (who, I guess, had a French aunt, maybe?) Oklahoma State's Dr. Thomas Lanners will appear as guest pianist. The concert is at 7:30pm Saturday, Sept. 21 at TCC's Van Trease PACE, located at 10300 E. 81st St. Tickets range from $25-$35 and are available through myticketoffice.com or at the Van Trease box office.
Sandi Patty, "Broadway Stories"
Multiple award winner Sandi Patty brings her soaring voice to the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center, performing the Broadway hits she considers her roots. The most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, Patty will sing music from Sondheim, Hammerstein, and many others.
She takes the stage at 7:30pm Sept. 21. The BAPAC is located at 701 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow. Tickets through myticketoffice.com or the BAPAC box office.
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