A prestigious art show planned at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve is expected to garner national attention this fall, according to Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser.
The exhibition, featuring 100 paintings by famed Western artist Charles Fritz, will provide a visual journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which is considered the first American exploration of the western portion of the United States. A two-day opening event is planned for Sept. 27-28, with the show continuing through Dec. 31.
“We’re really excited about it for a lot of different reasons,” said Fraser at a recent Bartlesville Rotary Club meeting. “One is the national visibility that it’s going to provide Woolaroc. Secondly, is the tourism for the state of Oklahoma and, thirdly, and maybe most important, is the education component of it.”
The expedition, commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and formally known as “The Corps of Discovery,” aimed to find a practical route across the western half of North America. At the same time, the ambitious mission established an American presence in the territory, securing land before Great Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.
Other objectives of the two-year journey, which took place from May 1804 to September 1806, included studying the area’s plants, animal life, geography and other natural resources.
The Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery” exhibit also will contain 14 paintings by Michael Haynes, who also has illustrated the historic expedition, and more than 40 bronze sculptures by noted Western artist and Lewis and Clark historian, Richard Greeves.
Even though Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s discoveries within the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase were meticulously documented, the expedition lacked the inclusion of a professional artist, Fraser explained.
“Lewis and Clark had almost everything on that journey, except they didn’t have an artist. Charles Fritz has taken the journals of Lewis and Clark and has physically followed those journals and painted what Lewis and Clark saw,” he said. “From that, there are 100 paintings that detail from start to finish what that journey was all about.”
The idea of having a national level art show came about two years ago, and Fraser, along with member of the Frank Philips Foundation Board have since discussed the exhibit with public media sources throughout the state, including OETA, the state’s education department and the lieutenant governor’s office.
“Working with the department of education, Jane Sears and Kathy Zervas are creating a curriculum for the grade school age and middle school and high school students so they will have an actual core curriculum when they come and visit Woolaroc,” said Fraser. “The enthusiasm that we’re getting all across the state is very exciting to us.”
Former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating and his wife Cathy will serve as honorary chairs for the Lewis and Clark’s “Corps of Discovery” art show. Several special events will take place during the exhibit’s opening weekend, including an artist and patron dinner and a public lecture on the “Corps of Discovery.” Several artwork pieces will be offered through silent bids during a sale reception.
Fraser added the upcoming exhibit will mark a celebration of Woolaroc’s recent renovations, which have included extensive painting projects and state-of-the-art lighting in several of the museum’s exhibit rooms.
For more information about the art show, call 918-336-0307 or visit www.woolaroc.org.