To those who live elsewhere and to some who live even closer, the thought of Tulsa, Oklahoma stirs up ideas of oil and cowboy hats or Native Americans, farmland, and the historic “Mother Road”, Route 66. Here’s another side of Tulsa captured through film photography.
I must admit that all of these items remain in existence in 2011, some in larger quantities than others.
The once self proclaimed, and widely accepted “Oil Capital of the World” still has working refineries along the banks of the Arkansas River directly outside of downtown, and active oil wells dot the landscape for miles around the city. Individuals such as my grandfather still don their “cowboy” hats when working on their acres of farmland hauling hay for their horses and cattle. Everything from tribal casinos to reservation lands are within a short distance from the epicenter of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma as well. As many people travel the famous Route 66 through Tulsa each year they are instantly met with the nostalgic images of days gone by. In addition to seeing a few casinos, cowboy hats, oil wells, and working farms you can always find neon along Rt. 66 as the sun begins to set, but the existence of an entire property devoted to the art of graffiti in Tulsa?
What most people do not realize is that along the historic “Mother Road” of Route 66, which now follows 11th Street through much of Tulsa, sits a proverbial mecca for regional graffiti artists. The property is an ever-changing visual experience with new works and murals going up every single week, night, and day. The most recent visit made by my wife and I was on January 7th, and we counted 3 murals dated for the same date, paint still wet and slowly drying. Several cites around the world, and throughout the United States have their fair share of artistic graffiti to brag about, but few consider Tulsa to be one of these cities.
The owner of Mad Dog Liquor, Jacqueline Dutton, not only allows but welcomes artists to treat her two buildings as a canvas for their projects. To many, including some unfortunate property owners, the art of graffiti and tagging is nothing more than a nuisance. Personally, it is one of my favorite forms of art and expression in our modern world, especially when the individual creating the mural is not rushed for fear of being arrested or having the property owner run them off.
It’s the perfect example of the ever-evolving canvas, and it’s located right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Is it a party for your eyes? Absolutely. Is it awesome? Yes. Is it free to view and to participate? Indeed. Are all of the murals gang-related? Not a chance. Are some of the images gang-related? Probably. Is it better than robbing a bank, making & selling drugs from home, beating up the elderly, kicking a puppy or doing anything else destructive to the growth of society? You know it.
Check it out if you ever get a chance to come to or through Tulsa, there is no way to know what you will get to see until you put the car in park, and that’s one reason why iDigTulsa.