POSTED ON JULY 1, 2009:
Capitol art collection reminds museum goers of the state's rich history and character
Story Time. "Following the state's centennial in 2007, this is a great way to remind Oklahoma's citizens of their state's rich history," said the museum's executive director in a press release.
On July 4, Gilcrease Museum opens two exhibits that, while not outwardly "patriotic" in the sense many use to define the term patriotic (American flags and "Support Our Troops" stickers, for example), they do celebrate and emphasize peace and politics in Oklahoma.
Through October 11 of this year, Gilcrease presents "Art of the Oklahoma State Capitol: The Senate Collection." The state's capitol is decorated with permanent and revolving displays of bronzes, murals, portraits and landscapes.
While the addition of art has been ongoing throughout the years, in the 1990s the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund began a concentrated effort to add works to the collection and began commissioning work from Oklahoma artists to "tell Oklahoma's story," according to Gilcrease Museum officials.
"The legacy of the Oklahoma State Capitol art collection is one that preserves the character that is Oklahoma," said the museum's executive director in a press release. "Following the state's centennial in 2007, this is a great way to remind Oklahoma's citizens of their state's rich history."
The work included in the exhibition ranges in size and subject matter, portraying well-known Oklahoma characters, the state's landscape and wildlife and important moments in its history.
Some of the pieces were commissioned for specific locations within the capitol building or to occupy historical frames purchased for the legislative chambers and public passages.
According to the release, "Funding for the commissions was raised through the private sector, from members of the Senate, governor's office and other foundation. No public funding has underwritten this project."
On display simultaneously with the Senate exhibition is "Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations," sponsored by the Cherokee Nation.
The exhibit provides insight by first-hand observers as to how the British and Cherokees viewed each other during the pre-Revolutionary War era.
Relying heavily on the memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake, a British officer sent into the Cherokee capitol Chota after a peace treaty was signed in 1761.
During the mid-18th century, the British considered the Cherokees to be strong allies and trading partners. The alliance was broken in 1758 and a three-year war followed. Peace delegations in 1762 attempted to re-establish the military and economic alliance, according to Gilcrease Museum.
According to the museum, "[Timberlake's] memoirs provide one of the best accounts of Cherokee life and society in the late 18th century and were published about the time of his death in 1765. An original copy, considered to be one of the rarest books in America, is part of the Gilcrease Museum archives."
The exhibit includes archaeological materials excavated from 18th century Cherokee sites, historical documents and British artifacts, along with artwork and illustrations.
"This exhibit was inspired in part by two portraits in Gilcrease's permanent collection," said King in a release. "Scyacust Ukah and Cunne Shote were members of the Cherokee delegation who sat for portraits by Joshua Reynolds and Francis Parsons while they were in London in June and July of 1762. The upcoming exhibition at Gilcrease marks the first time these portraits be shown with the cultural context of the subjects of the paintings."
The exhibition was originally produced by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, N.C. and spent four months at the Smithsonian Institution. King, a historian on the Cherokee people and culture, conducted much of the research that made the exhibition possible, museum officials said.
Gilcrease has planned educational programming in conjunction with the exhibition, including a symposium on July 11 titled "Historical and Cultural Contexts for Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations Exhibition," which will include guest lecturers from England and the U.S. discussing British and American views on one another's societies during the 18th century.
In addition to the two exhibitions, the museum has also chosen this month to expand eligibility for its complimentary charter membership program to all Oklahoma residents. Previously, eligibility was open only to Tulsans.
The program allows Oklahoma residents to enjoy a one-year free membership to the museum. Membership includes free admission to the museum, a subscription to the bi-monthly museum newsletter, discounts at the museum's store and Osage Restaurant and the opportunity to purchase guest passes at half price.
After the one-year period, a renewal option will be available. To sign up, call 596-2700 or go to gilcrease.utulsa.edu.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $6 for active military, $5 for students and free to children under
On July 2, UTW staff photographer Michael Cooper opens an exhibition of photos at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, 621 E. Fourth St.
Cooper joined UTW last year and specializes in journalistic art and music and portrait photography.
In his words, "I have two eyes and one lens, and they battle each other for experiences daily. The way I see it, few people get to live their passion, and being an artist is mine."
"Iris: Works by Michael Cooper" opens with a reception July 2 from 6 to 9pm and will hang in the center's gallery through the month of July. For more, go to www.okeq.org.
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