Quilt Gallery

Monday, July 8, 2013

Art Deco in Tulsa

Accompanying Steve to Oklahoma two weeks ago gave me a day to wander around downtown Tulsa.  Funny that I had never seen much of that part of Tulsa before even though I spent many weeks in Tulsa at Amoco's training center back in the days when I was an exploration geophysicist.  I never thought much about Tulsa's history and I certainly didn't appreciate its significant Art Deco heritage.  In the 1920s money flowed along with oil in Tulsa and was poured into construction of extravagant buildings of the latest fashion.

Strolling down Boston Avenue, which retains many of its original buildings, is like stepping back in time.  When I visited in early morning the Atlas Life Building's wonderful neon sign stood out dramatically in the deep shade.  Standing by itself a few blocks south, the upper portion of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church's tower glowed in the sun.

Looking south along Boston Avenue

The lobbies are as interesting as the exteriors and, on the hundred degree day on which I visited, their air conditioning made them even more appealing.

In the Atlas Life Building lobby

The glass on this ceiling light is etched with a pattern that could easily be adapted for quilting.  Perhaps for my "Mysterious Antarctica" piece.

Ceiling light, Pythian Building

Ceiling detail, Philcade Building

Even though it was hot, I still went for a morning coffee.  The barista at Topeca Coffee made different designs in each latte. Delicious!

I didn't have a car, but if I did, this is where I would have wanted to park it.  So much more refined than a garage!

As the style of it's sign suggests, Decopolis's  merchandise, including pieces by local artists, harks back to earlier days.  I still like to write the old fashioned way - with paper and pencil - so I bought several of their notebooks.

The Boston Avenue Methodist Church must be the crown jewel of Tulsa's Art Deco buildings.  Its position several blocks southeast of central downtown makes it a prominent landmark.  Completed in 1929, it has been lovingly maintained for close to a century now.  Motifs representing aspects of spirituality are repeated throughout the building and its furnishings, from walls and windows to chairs, lamps, and even such prosaic elements as radiator covers.  The result is a wonderfully unified whole. One heavily used motif, a set of downward flowing lines representing the outpouring of God's love, appears in the exterior terra cotta and is repeated throughout, including on chair backs and stained glass windows.

Tower of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church

The lines cross in exactly the same way as cables in knitting.  Coincidentally my handwork project for this trip was a nearly completed sweater with cabled ribbing at the hem and cuffs and a cable along each side.  As you can see, it is now finished.

I found the most remarkable feature of the church to be the unrestrained use of lush rosy pinks in the interior decoration.

North Mosaic (added in 1993) depicting the burning bush, Torah scroll and the prophet's staff 

Wall opposite the screen (Yes, the photo is in focus)
Interior screen

As I was preparing to photograph the exterior of the church this old Air Force plane flew overhead and I really did have to wonder whether it was still 2013.

The facade of this Boston Avenue building includes a relief of a very similar aircraft.

Note the aircraft just to the right of the oil derek in the center

The treasures downtown and our lovely accommodations contributed to an unexpectedly pleasant trip. If you ever visit Tulsa, I can recommend the Ambassador Hotel, located just outside of downtown. Though built in the1920s it has been updated to modern standards.  I found the staff gracious and our room comfortable and quiet.

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