Osage County Tourism Gains Momentum

Tourism Forum at Gilcrease Museum's Helmerich Research Center

Tourism Forum at Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Research Center


By: Roseanne McKee, Osage County Tourism Coordinator

The Osage County Tourism Forum was held from 10 – 2 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Research Center, where stakeholders, tourist venue representatives and tourism specialists gathered to share and learn.

There was a full house at the forum, which included lunch provided by the Osage Casinos.

It goes without saying that Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Mercantile Deli/Bakery/General Store, which opened Oct. 31, gave tourism a jumpstart in Osage County. P.W. Mercantile Events Coordinator Jourdan Foran, charged with planning special events at the Mercantile attended the forum.

Even before the opening of the Mercantile, thirty-three million impressions are made each year through Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept. (OTRD) marketing efforts, said Kimberly Noe-Lehenbauer, an Advertising Account Executive at OTRD.

“Tourism is an 8.6 billion dollar industry in Oklahoma. For every tax dollar spent by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept., there is a $7 return in tax revenue. You are impacting the state in a big, big way,” Noe-Lehenbauer said.

Susan McCalmont, President of Creative Oklahoma

Susan McCalmont, President of Creative Oklahoma

Susan McCalmont, President, Creative Oklahoma, spoke about developing creative ideas. To build tourism in the Osage a collaborative vision is needed with unselfish leadership. She commended the Pawhuska Merchant’s Association for its cooperative spirit, working on weekends to improve the business exteriors in downtown Pawhuska, develop imaginative ideas and test them!

“The best of these ideas survive,” McCalMont said. “Think big dreams, try them out and see what happens. Failure is part of the creative process.”

Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Mktg. Dir. of Sales, Kimberly Noe-Lehebauer, Advertising Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept., Trisha Kerkstra, POSTOAK Lodge Mgr. and Osage County Tourism Board  President, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., Osage Elder and OCTB member and Osage Industrial Authority Bd. member.

Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Mktg. Dir. of Sales, Kimberly Noe-Lehebauer, Advertising Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept., Trisha Kerkstra, POSTOAK Lodge Mgr. and Osage County Tourism Board President, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., Osage Elder and OCTB member and Osage Industrial Authority Bd. member.


Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Marketing Association (GCMA) Director of Sales, described their 22 publications, each offering individual advertising or advertising in a cooperative arrangement, wherein several companies each contribute funds in order to have a presence collective presence in an ad.

Distribution Oklahoma is one of GCMA’s magazines being sent to Tour Bus Operators, Ashworth said. GCMA’s publications include a national magazine published quarterly, another featuring Wedding Ideas and the True West magazine. Ashworth said that staff at G.C. Mktg. can produce brochures, ads, maps, rack cards and banners. “Just tell me what you need and I’ll find it for you,” she said.

POSTOAK Lodge General Manager, Trisha Kerkstra, praised Green Country Marketing Association for helping to create trail maps for POSTOAK Lodge, describing their services as excellent and economical.

POSTOAK Lodge, which sits on 1,000 acres in the Osage hills, hosts retreats, conferences, weddings and reunions and special events such as their annual wine and jazz festival and a spring marathon for trail runners.

Kerkstra encouraged stakeholders to apply for grants. POSTOAK obtained a grant from the Oklahoma Wildlife Dept. to establish a monarch butterfly wait station – an enhancement to their nature trails sure to please lodge guests.

Kerkstra, who is also president of the Osage County Tourism Board, said that last year’s tourism budget, derived from the lodging tax, was about $42 ,000. Of that, one-third was used to pay staff, one-third was used for marketing and ads in publications and one-third went toward grants for Osage County events such as the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. The current tourism budget is about $72,000.

Kerkstra thanked the Osage County Tourism Coordinator, Roseanne McKee, for her work with the board to develop four tour plans, which have been sent to motor coach companies in the region. McKee also updates the tourism website, http://www.visittheosage.com, with text and photos, and produces a quarterly newsletter, which is e-mailed to contacts, and is available on the website home page.

Social media updates for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are handled by Digital Generator, and the Visit the Osage Facebook page has over 10,000 followers.

Osage elder, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., who is retired from 34 years in management at Citgo, spoke to forum guests about the fact that tourism is an economic driver in Osage County, which increases the need for highspeed broadband internet infrastructure and housing to meet the needs of incoming businesses and residents.

Gilcrease Museum Executive Director, James Pepper Henry, described the Gilcrease Museum as “Tulsa’s most valuable asset.”

The Gilcrease has a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence and the only copies of the Articles of the Emancipation Proclamation, which became the basis for the U.S. Constitution. The Gilcrease Museum has one of the top five American art and colonial art collections in the U.S., the most Charles Russell art in the world and the second largest collection of Remington art in the U.S. The writings of Bob Dylan, who just won a Nobel Prize for writing, are also at the Gilcrease.

Only a fraction of the art collection is on display due to limited gallery space, Henry said. Soon, the museum will undergo renovation and expansion to expand gallery space and add needed amenities.

Dr. Joe Conner, owner of the Fairfax Chief Newspaper, spoke about tourism efforts in Fairfax including upcoming Saturday art markets at the Tallchief Theatre in downtown Fairfax where local artists will sell their work.

Executive Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc, Kaci Fouts, spoke about current exhibits, the wildlife preserve, and upcoming events at Woolaroc, including their Christmas Festival of Lights, which welcomed 13,000 visitors in 2016. Other events are the Mountain Man Camp, summer day camp for kids and the Cow thieves and Outlaws Reunion celebrating its ninetieth year in 2017.

L-R: Harvey Payne from Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Dr. Joe Conner owner of Fairfax Chief, James Pepper Henry, Exec. Director of Gilcrease Museum and Kaci Fouts, Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc

L-R: Harvey Payne from Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Dr. Joe Conner owner of Fairfax Chief, James Pepper Henry, Exec. Director of Gilcrease Museum and Kaci Fouts, Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc


No Osage County Tourism forum would be complete without mentioning the Osage landscape. Harvey Payne, Community Relations Coordinator and Preserve Director Emeritus of the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, spoke about the prairie, which was once “a utopia for bison, elk and deer.”

Describing its ecology, Payne said: “The prairie has to have fire or it will die. Without fire it was a spruce and blackjack tree forest. We do the burning which mimics the seasons…Ninety percent of what bison eat is grass. Called the great American desert by early explorers, when the steel plow was discovered it became endangered. Nowhere else was there a tallgrass prairie. It was coveted by settlers and farmers. The bread basket we have today probably came from the Tallgrass Prairie.

“The Nature Conservancy began purchasing the land in 1988. Then in 1993 bison were re-introduced to the Tallgrass Prairie with funded donations,” Payne said.

The preserve, free to the public, is privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, which does accept donations. Current Tallgrass Prairie Director is Robert G. Hamilton.

Bruce Carter, Tallgrass Art Gallery and Tallgrass Tours owner. Carter is also a member of the OC Indus. Auth. Bd. and OC Tourism Bd.

Bruce Carter, Tallgrass Art Gallery and Tallgrass Tours owner. Carter is also a member of the OC Indus. Auth. Bd. and OC Tourism Bd.

Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery in Pawhuska spoke about ways to market your business and build a service culture. He emphasized the use of social media for marketing your business. He described his new business bringing motor coach tours to the Osage and described taking a tour group to the Tallgrass Prairie for wine and hors d’oeuvres at sunset, and how this added experience resulted in happy tourists.

Osage Nation Museum Collections Manager Cali Martin spoke about the changes at the museum since the new curator Hallie Winter began in May 2016, and described an upcoming exhibit: Enduring Images, featuring photos of the Osage taken in the last century. A section of the gallery is also set aside for the work of today’s Osage artists. Another permanent exhibit called “Wahzhazhe Spirit” tells the Osage story.

Osage Nation Properties Manager, Bruce Cass, spoke about the nation’s support for tourism, and progress on an eco-park with community vegetable gardens, hydroponics and walking trails in Pawhuska.

Tallgrass Art Gallery’s School announces Nov. Classes

Submitted Press Release
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Tallgrass Art School is pleased to announce classes for November featuring nationally known artists as teachers.

On November 12, Tallgrass Art Gallery and art school owner, Bruce Carter will present an evening class on block printing at the school. This class will focus on producing a block for printing Christmas cards as well as printing the cards themselves. Students will enjoy this easy and fun printing project.

At the end of the evening, students may take their finished blocks and cards home to print even more or explore other printing. The class will be held at Tallgrass Art School at 521 Kihekah Ave., in Pawhuska at 7 p.m.

Plein air is a French expression referring to the act of painting outdoors with the artist’s subject in plain view. Our resident plein air painter, Cris Sundquist, will hold a workshop/retreat Nov. 21 and 22, at our downtown Pawhuska location.

Cris’s work is featured in Tallgrass Gallery and other galleries in the Midwest and has been shown at venues in Oklahoma in Kansas. Her style is free and simple with dramatic results.

This workshop will focus on simplification in the development of a work as well as the process of producing plein air pieces. Cris will work from a sketch and work with the class on the production of a finished piece.

Supply lists for the class are available. More information is available at the schools website, www.tallgrassartrschool.com.

This class is available on a first come first serve basis as either a weekend retreat including lodging and classes, or classes only.

As with all our workshops at Tallgrass Art School, attending this workshop includes the opportunity to experience our local cowboy culture, Native American Culture and the beauty of the Tallgrass Prairie.

For information on current class schedules, to contact the school or to enroll in classes you can visit the school’s website, www.tallgrassartschool.com, or email kenyon@tallgrassartschool.com

Tallgrass Art Gallery Welcomes Two New Artists

Based on Press Release from Tallgrass Art Gallery

Great artists of the Tallgrass prairie continue to join the Tallgrass Art Gallery. Joe Don Brave and Jon Cronin will join the gallery this month.

Plan to attend the artists’ reception being held on Saturday evening, Sept. 19th at 7 p.m. This will be an opportunity to view the works of these artists and meet them!

About Joe Don Brave

“I was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1965, and named Vincent Paul Brave, after two famous artists, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gogan by my father, Franklin Brave, a successful professional artist and graphic designer.  Two weeks after I was born, my dad decided to nickname me Joe Don after the Oklahoma football legend Joe Don Looney, the name stuck and I have been Joe Don Brave ever since.

Painting by Joe Don Brave

Painting by Joe Don Brave

“I moved to Oklahoma when I was nine and lived in Osage County with my Osage people until I left for college.  I was raised in the tradition and customs of the Osages, and am still an active participant of our annual traditional ceremonial dances.

“My father was an accomplished artist, and though he passed away when I was eleven, I spent my childhood, being influenced by his skills and artwork.  I still remember visiting him as a child, in his studio and being given markers and paper to create with alongside him.

“I studied art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I learned the fundamentals of art and museum studies.

“I began a career as a Museum Technician at my tribal museum, the oldest tribal museum in the country, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.  My career continued at the National Museum of the American Indian; Smithsonian Institute in New York City.  During my 10+ years in New York City, I worked with other organizations such as Sotheby’s Auction House as an art handler, the Tibetan Museum of Art on Staten Island as Collections manager and the Native American Community House Art Gallery, as a Gallery Technician.

“Besides my professional museum career and my artwork, I have had the opportunity to work on a fishing boat off the coast of Monterey Bay, California, bar tending in New Mexico and landscaper in Colorado.  After twenty years of working around the United States, I decided to return to Osage County and pursue my artwork full time.

“My artwork revolves around my heritage, emotions and expressions that I have picked up through my travels and adventures along the road, and while listening to my elder artists tell of their stories and experiences,

“I am the son of the Osage, part of its history and a product of its many changes endured over time.  I am a citizen of the world, as such, seek to define my identity and place within these two worlds, which are but one.”

“His training in Santa Fe and the influence of his father is obvious in his outstanding pieces of art,” said gallery owner Bruce Carter.

Brave, who is Osage and Cherokee, works at the Osage Tribal Museum and resides in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Brave’s paintings and prints will be available for purchase at the Tallgrass Art Gallery.

Artist Jon Cronin Joins the Gallery

Sculpture by Jon Cronin

Sculpture by Jon Cronin


Also joining the gallery is Jon Cronin, of Dodge City Kansas who will be showing his sculptures using objects found in nature. His pieces often feature pieces of trees found, then worked to reveal their natural beauty.

About Jon Cronin

“I was blessed to be born into a simple rural home and have mentors like my grandfather and father who taught me to see the beauty and wonder in the natural things that surround us. Things that are often taken for granted and overlooked. Later in life I was influenced by an art professor who stressed that the best designs come from nature.

“After having a career in commercial design and reuniting with my brother, who is a rancher/cowboy, I started producing my current work. My brother shares his wooded wonderland with me and contributes his welding skills. This allows me to polish each piece of fallen, decaying walnut, cotton wood and hedge into an unique piece of art.”

New Art Gallery Opens in Pawhuska

By: Roseanne McKee
IMG_1892 (2)BruceCarter
Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery at 521 Kihekah Ave. spoke to the Kiwanis Club recently about his new gallery, the path he travelled to become an artist and what led him to choose Pawhuska.

“When I was in high school I took art. I was really fortunate that my high school had a residential artist supplied by the state arts council come to our school for six months and totally changed the future that I would take in life. I was going to be a welder.”

Despite his plans to become a welder, Carter decided to take a six-month detour to take silversmithing classes at Northern Oklahoma College.

“At that point welding looked real big and silversmithing looked real small,” he said.

Nonetheless, Carter decided to pursue silversmithing as an art form.
Carterworking
“I’m a self-taught artist. In the art world that’s called someone from outside the academic background. I am a traditional silversmith, which means I use no mechanical tools. I do everything by hand. I’m also a traditional engraver, which means I carve all of the old cowboy patterns and things you see on work before early 1900.

“The gallery, I’d like to say it was planned, but it wasn’t. I had moved to Pawhuska and I decided I’m going to go back to silversmithing, which I had quit for 13 years.”

“I wanted to get back into the arts. I have always loved Pawhuska. I’ve driven through here. I’ve stopped here, I have visited Pawhuska. I was at a point in my life when I decided, I want to do what I really want to do and do it someplace that I really want to do it at. Hence, my move to Pawhuska,” Carter said.

Initially, he was just looking for a ten by ten space in which to do his silver work.

“The gallery kind of took shape after talking to lots of people in town…There’s a big push in Pawhuska to make it a center for the arts, to encourage the arts, to encourage artists, to encourage galleries.

We don’t sit on a major highway. We’re not a great place for industry … but we’re a great tourism destination. The number one reason people come to a destination is shopping, number two is history. Pawhuska has history.

Once he decided to move forward, he obtained building space at 521 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska, next door to Osage Outfitters and across the street from Ree Drummond’s building at the corner of Main St. and Kihekah.

“Three weeks later, [in July] we opened with 11 nationally known artists. That’s unheard of.
GalleryInterior1
“Artists in this area were ready for a gallery. They believed in Pawhuska … and they were ready to come in and make that work. They also share my vision.

“Artists believe Pawhuska is a great place for art. If you’re an artist the tallgrass is a great asset. They love the Osage Hills, they love the ranches in this area.”

Of the 14 artists now represented in the gallery, Carter said that two of them have given exclusive rights to their artwork to be sold in the gallery in Oklahoma.

“That’s huge for Pawhuska,” Carter said.
Metalcowboysculpture
It means if you want to buy a Burneta Venosdel, you have to buy it here. Burneta is a sculptor from Tahlequah has won several national awards, Carter added.

“If you want to buy a Carolyn Mock, other than from the artist herself, you have to buy it in Pawhuska.

Describing his approach, Carter said, “[a]lthough I am the owner, we run the gallery as a co-op. All the artists get a voice in what we do. For example, if we decide to advertise, we all get a voice in what venue we think is the best for that advertising.”

The artists are also in the process of forming an art guild in Pawhuska.

“One of the things the artists have consistently told me is that they want to teach sculpture and painting. They want to teach other professionals, so we are putting together an art school for professionals…. Professional artists spend a lot of money going places learning to paint and sculpt. They stay in a town up to a week at a time, so the artists have decided that we need a school,” Carter explained.

To that end, “the Oklahoma Sculpture Society will be coming to Pawhuska Oct. 19. Burneta Venosdel will be teaching a class to professional sculptors that day on the streets of downtown Pawhuska and at Liberty Ranch, a huge draw for Pawhuska, a huge draw for tourists.
MountainmanbyCarolynMock
“People sometimes have a misconception that galleries bring artists. That’s not how that works. Artists bring galleries.”

Carter cited several cities known for art as examples: Eureka Springs, Fredericksburgh Tx., Santa Fe and Red River.

In addition to his own move to Pawhuska, at Carter’s suggestion, two of the artists whose work is represented in the Tallgrass Art Gallery hope to move to Pawhuska, so Pawhuska is on its way to becoming an artistic hub.
Tinypieces
Carter is sowing into Pawhuska by his presence and by his sponsorship of events. The Tallgrass Gallery plans to change the artwork exhibited monthly, have monthly receptions and establish “Women, Wine and Art” on the third Thursday of each month.

In addition, Tallgrass Art Gallery is sponsoring a street dance on Kihekah Ave., ‘A Night in Ole Pawhuska’ on the evening of Oct. 3 after the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. All donations and proceeds will benefit The Pawhuska Arts and Preservation group. There will be music by Jimmie Johnson, community art projects, artist’s demonstrations, gallery opening and the grand opening of the Tallgrass Art School.

Carter is also planning a children’s art show in December in which there will be no prizes, but children’s artwork (8.5” by 11”) will be displayed and offered for sale at $25 each with the proceeds going toward arts and preservation.

The Tallgrass Art Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment.

To learn more about the upcoming activities of Tallgrass Art Gallery visit their Facebook page, visit their website http://www.tallgrassgallery.net or call them at 580-304-8731.

For information on classes and Tallgrass Art School, visit http://www.tallgrassartschool.com, Tallgrass Art School on Facebook or call Kenyon at 918-728-0804.