TULSA, OK.- Philbrook Museum of Art
-one of the most important and distinguished museums in the Midwest-opened Philbrook Downtown, a satellite space located in the heart of Tulsa's vibrant Brady Arts District. The expansion enables Philbrook, Tulsa's leading cultural institution, to showcase its notable collections while serving as the anchor of a burgeoning arts community in the city's center.
Designed by Richard Gluckman, principal of the New York-based firm Gluckman Mayner Architects, the conversion of the early 20th-century industrial warehouse contains three distinct but interrelated initiatives: the display of modern and contemporary art and Native American art, as well as a robust research and programming agenda.
The first level fuses Philbrook's growing collection of modern and contemporary art with a consistent presentation of innovative programming. Exhibitions highlighting important work in conventional as well as new media and programs will focus on quality and inclusivity thus presenting artists of diverse influences, ethnicities, and genders.
The second level focuses on the Museum's exceptional Native American collection. Philbrook was awarded the high-quality, extensive, and well-documented Adkins Collection of Native American and Southwestern Art (approximately 1,800 objects) in 2007, making its collection of Native American art one of the best in the nation. Combined, these collections present one of the finest surveys of 20th century Native American art anywhere.
Adjacent to the exhibition space, the second level will also house The Eugene B. Adkins Study Center. The Center integrates Philbrook's outstanding artwork, special collections from the Museum's H. A. & Mary K. Chapman Library, and Eugene Adkins's personal archives. The Center will again position Philbrook at the forefront of this important dialogue regarding Native American art and culture since the Philbrook Indian Annual juried competitionserved as a vital outlet for Native American fine art from 1949 to 1976.
Two transformational gifts - from the Eugene B. Adkins Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) - spurred Philbrook to develop this new satellite facility in Tulsa's historic Brady District. The GKFF's generous provision of 30,000 square feet within the former Mathews Warehouse for Philbrook Downtown is less than three miles from the original 23-acre Philbrook campus, which includes a historic home, modern museum complex and pristine gardens.
Philbrook Director Rand Suffolk said, "Opening Philbrook Downtown marks a significant moment in our 75-year history. Not only have we created a new arts destination for domestic and international visitors; we have also established a vibrant forum for engaging dialogue, which adds further dimension to our organization. Philbrook Downtown will cultivate and engage new audiences as well as enrich the cultural fabric of our community. Creating a space in this part of town lends to our mission by directly contributing to Tulsa's revitalization efforts."
Suffolk continued, "Richard [Gluckman] embraced the concept of adaptive re-use to transform this warehouse location into a new platform of engagement. The space honors the integrity of the original structure while simultaneously creating a sophisticated urban environment for the presentation of exceptional objects."
Richard Gluckman added, "Our design goal is to create balance between the historic fabric of the building and the contemporary intervention. We achieve this by framing the art, exploiting the structural characteristics of this example of early 20th century industrial architecture. In designing spaces for art, we strive to maintain the relationship between the viewer, the artwork, and the space they occupy; no single element becomes the dominant component. We believe the viewer's experience is enhanced by the resonance generated by the architectural space and the artwork that inhabits it."
The Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig Gallery encompasses approximately 3,800 square feet on the first floor and serves as a permanent home to the Philbrook's modern and contemporary collection. The inaugural exhibition, Opening Abstraction, presents a selection of abstract works made after 1945 by both established and emerging artists including Clyfford Still, Arturo Herrera, and Rachel Whiteread. The majority of artworks on view have been drawn from the permanent collection and includes recent acquisitions making their debut with this installation.
Two smaller gallery spaces on the main level enable Philbrook curators to freshen the presentation with rotating exhibitions. The William S. Smith Charitable Foundation Gallery opened with an exhibition of work by first-generation abstract expressionist Adolph Gottlieb (June 14 - August 25, 2013), while the adjacent Irene and Sanford Burnstein Gallery features a show of influential 20th-century women artists who worked in the American Southwest and includes a seminal work by Georgia O'Keeffe titled Sirens of the Southwest (June 14 - November 10, 2013).
The second floor of Philbrook Downtown has three distinct spaces, including the 3,500-square-foot Jack and Ann Graves exhibition gallery for the Native American art collection, the Adkins Study Center, and collections storage. Skylights introduce natural light into the galleries and wood floors further soften the industrial setting.
The opening exhibition, Identity & Inspiration: 20th Century Native American Art, features more than 150 works from the Museum's collection. It represents acontinuation of Philbrook's commitment to exhibiting significant examples of works by important Native artists whose influence reaches far beyond their communities and their lifetimes. The exhibition spotlights the artistic achievement of these individuals and explores some of the motivations influencing their creative processes. Rather than presenting the works geographically or culturally, the extraordinary breadth and depth of the collection allows Christina E. Burke, Curator of Native American and Non- Western art, to attempt a more nuanced and complex installation. The exhibition also highlights the evolution, as well as the reception and intent, of Native American art from 1900 to present. In other words, identifying the motivations and market forces that transformed this work from "artifact" to aesthetic objects of the highest regard.