Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Okie Expedition: Bartlesville

I thought I would share some photos from our little getaway to Bartlesville...

Oh, Oklahoma. I might complain about you a bit now and again, but I love your quirkiness! Where else can you find beautiful mid-century architecture, roaming buffalo, taxidermy, and Native American art all in one place?

It still rather amazes me that Frank Lloyd Wright built his one and only skyscraper right on the open prairies of small-town Oklahoma. The building itself is like a giant copper entity from another planet -- covered in gorgeous green angular designs and strange layers and appendages jutting out in horizontal and vertical patterns. It's so unexpected against the flat horizon, yet it seems somehow at home there. Wright based the building off the design of a tree, as well as the tall repeating columns of buds on a prairie flower, and he hoped its organic yet modern shape would compliment and reflect the landscape...

It was built in the 1950's, and the interior slowly became run down over the years, but was recently remodeled for use as office and hotel spaces. My boyfriend and I stayed the night, and I have to say it was one of the more impressive hotel experiences I've had. The rooms themselves are spacious and modern, with long rows of ceiling-to-floor windows and copper accents on everything from the lighting fixtures to the bed posts. My boyfriend is a huge architecture buff, and he was blown away by Wright's seeming ability to create a space that was both sparse and modern, while still being warm, comfortable, and completely unique. Wright's vision was certainly a distinctive one: part futuristic, part organic, and part sheer personality!

While in Bartlesville, you HAVE to visit Woolaroc -- a sort of museum / meets nature reserve / meets reliquary of the Wild West. I grew up visiting Woolaroc in the summertime, and have vivid memories of the herds of buffalo roaming freely [and my grandfather explaining that they were once very endangered]. The fact that you can buy barbecue buffalo burgers at the food stand always confused me...though, admittedly, they are yummy!

The man behind the museum and preserve was Frank Phillips, an oil man from Oklahoma's early days of expansive oil production. He collected native American art and he also had a penchant for collecting exotic animals. At one time, there was everything from giraffes and peacocks to rhinos and bears roaming his acreages. He loved them so much, in fact, that after they died, he would have them stuffed and mounted! I think my obsession with taxidermy must have started as a child, seeing his old cabin filled with every species of bird and mammal, lovingly mounted and displayed. {And yes, that is me above left, being ridiculous...}.

The entrance of the museum features a sky blue entryway, covered in tile mosaic, and depicting native dances. This guy on the right is just plain creepy and awesome...my boyfriend and I decided he was something straight out of a horror movie...Oh, did I mention there were shrunken heads and a huge doll collection? I didn't get a good photo, but believe me, they are impressive!

::If you're ever passing through Oklahoma {I say rather jokingly}, I will take you on a tour!!


OptART said...

Looks like you had a great time! I love Price Tower and Woolaroc and I can't wait until I can go back again.

Mrs. G said...

Hi! This is the director of the Bartlesville Convention & Visitors Bureau. Thank you for such a great blog! We're glad you had a good time while visiting us and please come back and see us very soon!


Sam said...

All I can say is "Oh my goodness!" What about that giraffe for a start!! Incredible! ...and the Frankie bit - awesome stuff! ...and the buffalo!!Thank youso much for sharing!

Brigid said...

I would love to stay at the Price Tower sometime. I LOVE Woolaroc! Maybe my taller half and I will have to make a weekend of it sometime.