Gilcrease Museum Opens Exhibition Featuring Art of Willard Stone

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Known for its rhythmic, flowing beauty, the art of Willard Stone tells a story about the ever-changing world that surrounded him. More than 100 carvings, drawings and photographs will be featured in Willard Stone: Storyteller in Wood at Gilcrease Museum February 21-June 21, 2009.

Stone grew up dreaming of becoming an artist, but a traumatic accident as a teenager steered him from his dream. Shortly after, he realized his love of art would not be dampened, and he began creating figures from clay. Eventually he turned to wood to tell his stories. Gilcrease Museum founder Thomas Gilcrease asked Stone to become an artist-in-residence beginning in 1946. During that three-year period, Stone created more than 50 sculptures that became a part of the Gilcrease collection.

“Willard Stone’s works reflected the turbulent times in society present at that time,” said Duane King, vice president for museum affairs for The University of Tulsa and Gilcrease Museum executive director. “Thomas Gilcrease felt strongly that Stone’s views expressed universal themes that transcended the regional origin of his work. With this exhibition, Gilcrease will have the opportunity to showcase its collection and share it with the community.”

Representing fertility, birth, regeneration and the seasons, Stone’s sculptures show a deep understanding of the delicate balance of nature. His thoughtful process used to create his carvings is evident throughout his work.

This exhibition contains all of Gilcrease’s Stone holdings and is supplemented with loaned pieces from public and private collections across the state. It is the first time an exhibition of this magnitude has been dedicated to solely to Stone’s work at Gilcrease.

Gilcrease has planned a full range of programs to coincide with the exhibition beginning noon on March 6 with From My Point of View: Art Deco and Willard Stone. Herb Fritz, Tulsa architect and cofounder of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, will discuss the ‘art’ of art deco style connecting the movement’s influence on artist Willard Stone as well as American architecture and design. The talk will be held in Gallery 18. This event is free and open to the public with paid Museum admission.

On March 15, the Sunday Matinee Films Series will continue with Willard Stone: Sculptor in Wood and Bronze. Screenings will be at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Tom Gilcrease, Jr. Auditorium. This film includes rare footage of Stone at work in his studio, a conversation with him about his art, and a tour of the Willard Stone Museum in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. This film was produced by Michael Jay Smith in 2002, and is 28 minutes in length. The documentary is not rated. This event is free and open to the public with paid Museum admission.

Willard Stone: Storyteller in Wood is sponsored by the 2008-2009 exhibition season sponsors: Bank of Oklahoma, H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust, Joe and Kathy Craft Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Pete and Nancy Meinig, Nadel & Gussman, L.L.C., Samson, The William K. Warren Foundation, The Williams Companies, Inc., and the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

About the Museum
Gilcrease Museum is home to the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. Gilcrease is recognized as one of the country’s premier facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. In 2008, the City of Tulsa and The University of Tulsa entered into a historic public-private partnership to manage the city-owned museum, providing unparalleled opportunities to preserve and advance the museum’s collection.

Admission: $8 for adults; $6 for seniors (62 and older); $6 for active duty members of the U.S. Military; $5 for college students with valid ID; and children 18 and under admitted free. All Gilcrease Museum members, University of Tulsa students with ID, school tours and sponsors are admitted free of charge. Gilcrease will offer free admission to all visitors on the first Tuesday of each month (“TU TUesday”).

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The museum is open for all holidays, except Christmas Day.

More information: or (918) 596-2700

Anne Brockman