Historic Tulsa mural part of gallery exhibit
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
10/28/12 at 5:55 AM
A slice of Tulsa history is on display at Pierson Gallery - a slice that measures 5 feet tall by 17 feet wide.
It is a mural by artist William Steene titled "The Allegory of Tulsa," painted in 1918.
"It was commissioned for the old Tulsa courthouse," said gallery owner Linda Pierson. "I haven't been able to find out exactly when it was on display there. What I do know is that at one point it was taken down, rolled up and stored in a warehouse for decades."
The mural is part of the Pierson Gallery's current exhibit, "Regionalism in Oklahoma," which features a number of works from the collection of the Rev. John L. Walch, as well as pieces by the gallery's regularly featured artists.
"The Allegory of Tulsa" is owned by another Tulsa collector, who prefers not to be known. This person had the mural cleaned and restored for the Pierson Gallery show.
"We get a lot of calls from people wanting to show us paintings that they hope are worth something," Pierson said. "And I'm always a little cautious when I get such a call. But the minute I saw this piece, I knew we had to show it.
"I said, 'If you can get it here, we'll find a place for it,' " she said. "So it showed up last week on a flatbed truck."
William Steene was a New York-born artist who spent much of his career in the South. He was something of a journeyman painter, doing portraits, city scenes and landscapes, as well as creating murals for public buildings.
"The Allegory of Tulsa" was one such work. It depicts a woman seated on a throne, in the manner of a goddess from Greek mythology, holding out a laurel-leaf crown to a child holding a small oil derrick.
Behind the child are adult men representing industry, agriculture and education - pursuits that often defined cities in the early 20th century. And these more established activities are being superseded by the nascent business of finding, extracting and refining oil.
"It took a lot of work to get it back into good condition," Pierson said. "Apparently, there was still plaster from the wall it had been on affixed to the back of the canvas."
The "Regionalism in Oklahoma" show will be on display at the Pierson Gallery, 1311 E. 15th St., through Dec. 31.
For more, 918-584-2440; or visit tulsaworld.com/piersongallery
Original Print Headline: Historic Tulsa mural on exhibit
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
A 5-by-17-foot mural titled "The Allegory of Tulsa" is on display at the Pierson Gallery on Cherry Street in Tulsa. The 1918 mural, originally commissioned for the Tulsa courthouse, has been discovered, restored and is part of a new exhibition called "Regionalism in Oklahoma." JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World