Monday, April 7, 2014

The Songs of the Fifty States: Oklahoma

(What is "The Songs of the Fifty States"?)

Chickasaw Warrior, by Oklahoma artist and
legislator Enoch Kelly Haney


Size: 181,195 km2 (20th)

2013 Population: 3,850,568 (28th)

Statehood: 1907 (46th).

American Human Development Index: 4.14 (44th)

Art Mecca: I consulted staff Oklahomans drschnell and Blythe about the cultural highlights of the 46th State -- Boomer! -- and came up with a short list of three major collections: The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, and the unostentatiously named Fred Jones, Junior, Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman.  Drschnell said the Philbrook was the one to beat, but since the OKC Museum represents the state's great metropolis, I wanted a scientific basis of comparison.  Which museum has more "likes" on Facebook?  It's the Philbrook by a dusty, Great Plains mile; Fred Jones Junior isn't even playing in the same league.

What's so great about the Philbrook?  Well, it's got art, don't it.  It has what looks to be a perfectly respectful collection for a regional museum.  They divide their collection into nine sections, which include the departments that every American regional art museum of pretensions has on offer -- American, European, and Modern Art, Antiquitities, and Decorative Art.  The optional sections in Tulsa are Asian Art, African Art, and Works on Paper, as well as what is presumably an important regional specialty, Native American Art.  To get a feel for a museum from afar, I play to my own knowledge base and take a look at what it's bragging about in its European section.  The Philbrook's marquee piece is a very nice Bourgereau, and they've got a Tadeo di Bartolo, a Giovanni Bellini, a Strozzi, and not a lot of other folks you've heard of.  So, not to put too fine a point on it, we might be at the low end of major regionals here.

The actual structure is a mansion built during the boom of the 1920s, when Tulsa was awash in oil money and irrational exuberance.  Its 72 opulent rooms were a bit much for a family of four, if you ask me, but probably just about right for a museum collection.  Admission is cheap, there are nice gardens, and you could combine your stop with a stroll along the nearby trail along the Arkansas River, which is one of Tulsa's nicer attractions if memory serves.

Michael 5000's Oklahoma

First Visited: roughly October 1, 1991 (11th)
Most Recently Visited: May 26, 2013 (18th)

First Run In: n/a
Best Run: n/a

Have Admired the Visual Arts In: No.
Have Geohashed In: No.
Have Slept Overnight In: Yes.

Counties Visited: 39/77 (7th)
% Complete: 50.6% (19th)

Mrs. 5000's Counties Visited: 21/77 (18th)
% Complete: 27.3% (29th)
Mrs.5000 First Visited: Unknown
Mrs.5000 Most Recently Visited: May 26, 2013 

Atlas of All Roads Travelled

The green bits in the panhandle are short stretches of road added to the Oklahoma map in May 2013.  

The linear sliver on the northeastern edge of the state is the very first stretch of road I highlighted in the very first iteration of the AART, following a roadtrip from Lawrence, Kansas, to see Big Brutus, the second largest steam shovel ever made.  Big Brutus is in Kansas, but we were close enough to Oklahoma to make it seem worthwhile to cross over the border.  This may have been my first real experience with arbitrary travel.   

Plans and Aspirations

A side trip to Oklahoma in the foreseeable future is possible but not likely.


mrs.5000 said...

If you sent a postcard addressed to The Fred, Norman, OK, do you think it would arrive at the museum?

blythe said...

Bonus: Enoch Kelly Haney is an OCU grad. It's a small art world in OK, but a vibrant one! The grounds of the Philbrook in late spring are truly fantastic.

blythe said...

Oh, and I was always taught, by our probably 50th ranked public school system, that we are the 46th state... so I could be wrong. Sooner!

Michael5000 said...

Whoopsie! I solved for "fifth most recent" by subtracting five from fifty -- Oregon schooling FAIL!! Oklahoma is indeed #46, before the Arizona/New Mexico pair and the Alaska/Hawaii pair.