Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Affair of the Art

The Tulsa creative community is so robust, but many consumers are still content to hang mass-produced art on walls. But why? Here are suggestions to help you bring home locally created treasures.

Gina Conroy
June 29, 2017

From the Tulsa Performing Arts Center to the tradition of Mayfest, Tulsa has a proven track record of being a city dedicated to all forms of performing and visual arts. Now, with the expansion of the visual art galleries in the Brady, Rose and Blue Dome districts, plus the First Friday Art Crawl, there’s never been a better time to support local artists.

Heather Pingry, the executive director of the Tulsa International Mayfest, says Tulsa is booming with local artists. “There’s a lot of competition, but competition inspires you to push yourself and our artists do [the same],” she says.

That means there’s a lot more art available for the public and more opportunity for consumers to find the perfect piece.

Yet if you ask most people where they found the painting or print that hangs on their wall or in their office or home, chances are they will name one of the popular chain stores in town. Why with a city so rich in local artists do most people choose to buy reproductions? Could it be that most people haven’t been exposed to local art and have no idea where to find art they would love to have in their home?

Pingry and other Tulsa gallery owners want consumers to know finding original art doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips to finding and buying local art you’ll treasure for years to come.


Where to start?
As simple as it sounds: buy what you love. Art can be timeless, and the investment isn’t just a cheap decoration. You will eventually redecorate, buy new furniture and update wall colors, but your valuable art remains a constant.


Attend local art events
Mayfest and First Friday Art Crawl are great places to start exploring the local art scene because there is no pressure to buy. You can look at everything and discover what kind of art moves you and pass by what doesn’t.


Meet the artists
If you see something you like and appreciate, ask questions. Artists are always ready and eager to answer questions about their art.


Lingo hang-ups
No idea what’s the difference between an emerging artist and a represented one? No worries. Most people don’t. But don’t let jargon slow you down.


Scale it down
Sometimes a large art piece catches your eye, but you can’t see it in your home or afford the price tag. Original art isn’t cheap. But artists and galleries understand financial thresholds and are usually willing to work with you. Pingry suggests finding out who the artist is and asking them if they can do something smaller or in a print. “Many artists are more than happy to reproduce their art,” she says. And some galleries also stockpile artwork in storage areas that aren’t part of an exhibit. Ask about smaller-sized pieces, limited-run prints or works on paper from an artist you like.


Discover while you dine
Many of the restaurants in the Brady District like Hey Mambo display artwork for sale by local artists. You’d be surprised how much local art there is for sale where you frequently dine. Many talented artists got their start displaying art in restaurants, coffee shops and other retail locations.


Take a second look
“When first I saw John Hammer’s prints, I wasn’t really impressed,” says Mary Jo Masterson, who always wanted local art in her home. “They weren’t really my style.” Then, when she saw a giant painting in a QuickTrip done by Hammer, she took another look. “When I saw the salt on the giant pretzel I felt like I could reach out and grab it,” says Masterson, who was very impressed when she visited his studio. “I wanted to commission a painting before he got too expensive.”


Learn the story
If something interests you, learn the story behind the art. Learning about the motivation, emotion, or story behind a piece not only connects you to the artist, but to the painting. Masterson says knowing the story that John Hammer started out as a graphic designer and never planned on being an artist adds value to her commissioned painting that hangs on her wall. “His wife was the painter,” says Masterson. “He didn’t want to paint, but one day he picked up a paint brush and gave it a try. Now you can find him selling prints of his art Sundays at Guthrie Green.”


Remember, this is someone's living
Try to avoid negotiating with artists on price. The prices are not as flexible as you might believe. It’s hard enough to make money off selling works of art, so leave the haggling for garage sales.


Branch out to commercial galleries
After you feel comfortable around local art, try visiting the commercial galleries in the area. Talk with the gallery owners and browse the selections until you become familiar with what you like and what moves you.


Make your first purchase
Many works of art can be purchased for what a family spends on dinner and a movie. And the art lasts longer. As you discover what moves you and start to buy local art, you’ll learn that some pieces and artists appeal to you more than others. Don’t feel you will offend a local artist if you don’t buy their art.


Browse online
If time and location prohibits you from attending local events, you can browse The Tulsa Art Studio Tour to discover local art and buy artwork on their website gallery.


Search for artist-owned galleries
The Tulsa Artery in the Blue Dome District is an artist owned and operated gallery, retail shop, and resource center providing artists with a space to display and sell their art. From jewelry, textiles, clothing and tools to furnishings, home décor, housewares, and functional art, the Artery provides the community a place to buy locally made, built, and crafted art.



108 Contemporary
108 E. Brady St. | Tulsa

Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa
101 E. Archer St. | Tulsa

Joseph Gierek Fine Art
1342 E. 11th St. | Tulsa

Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E. Brady St. | Tulsa

Lovetts Gallery
6528 E. 51st St. | Tulsa

M.A. Doran Gallery
3509 S. Peoria Ave., #180 | Tulsa

Person Gallery
1311 E. 15th St. | Tulsa

Tulsa Artery
119 S. Detroit Ave. | Tulsa

Tulsa Artists Coalition
9 E. Brady St. | Tulsa