Ever since I can remember, I have loved and appreciated quality art, and I have my bohemian-souled parents to thank for that. I grew up in an arts community on the East Coast, and it was there that both my mom and dad encouraged my sister and I to investigate and pursue all things creative whenever we could.
Summer breaks, especially, were a time of freedom from traditional schedules, and our days were with filled creative projects and hours of outdoor (and inspiring, vista-filled) adventures. During these long, hot days, there was much crafting, singing, dancing, acting, reading, sketchbook-filling, art fest and gallery-attending, tree-climbing, bike-riding, beach-strolling (and nearly getting swept out by the tide-ing … buuut, that’s another story).
So when I moved to Tulsa, though I was excited about college and other things going on in the city, one of the things I missed was visiting art galleries and attending exhibit openings on a regular basis. Now, maybe there was just an over-abundance (if there can be such a thing) of these establishments where I come from, but I have trouble recalling times when there weren’t shows going on.
Seriously, these things were straight up family and community events. Between the unveiling of new pieces and the ginormous Atlantic cocktail shrimp hors d’oeuvres the galleries served up, you did not want to be the poor soul who missed out. For the folks who live in the Golden Isles of Georgia, art is just a part of everyday life.
Unfortunately, in an industrial city, which was very much the type of city Tulsa was when I moved here, art seems to be something that is not particularly accessible or commonplace. But, I’m happy to report that much has changed in Tulsa over the past decade. The founders of Mainline, Kelly Knowlton and Katy Eagleston, are two of a number of business owners in the now flourishing Brady Arts District seeking to bring art to the community at large.
Kelly and Katy started their establishment with the idea of bringing art to a living-room type space to inspire people to accept it as something meant for everyone. And in my little ol’ opinion, they succeeded.
This space is intimate, comfortable, filled with fun decor, and at each seating area sketchbooks and colored pencils sit, waiting to be used by someone who may get the hankering to doodle while they relax with the beverage of their choice. Fun tip: go there with friends and allow each person to draw one object, pass the sketchbook, and continue until the group deems the picture finished. You will certainly learn a lot about each other…
Also, the bar proper is a handsome black granite type structure, and showcases pretty much my favorite chandelier ever.
This picture cannot even capture just how sparkly this fixture is—just another reason to pay this place a visit, whether it is on a quiet weeknight, or a hopping (but not crazy unbearable with noise) weekend evening.
I especially like to drop in during the monthly First Friday Art Crawl, when live music is often going on and new exhibits are revealed. As the website states, “Mainline … features two gallery spaces for monthly rotating exhibitions. One of these spaces highlights historic Oklahoma artists and the other serves to promote emerging local[s].” And it makes good on its promise. There is an ongoing call for artists, so if you have pieces you would like featured, check this link out.
The gallery’s current contemporary show is “pyrotechnic arboretum” by local artist Chris Wollard. It is the gallery’s first 3D exhibit, and is a unique and clean looking collection of tree sculptures crafted out of metal. Very cool to see in pictures, but even cooler when viewed in person. The lines are lovely, the display intriguing, and some of the sculptures are even illuminated.
And in case anyone is thinking of getting me any presents in the near future, I totally dig melty tree shelf in the upper left hand corner of the above photo, just sayin’…
Well, there you have it folks. Whether you are stopping in for a quiet moment to relax and admire the space while sitting on some living-room-comfortable furniture, going out with friends for a celebration or book club meeting (yep, I’m that person), or looking for a lovely date night place, Mainline’s got you covered.
It is a beautiful space with a community-based mission and is part of the new Tulsa Renaissance; I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. The art is accessible, the drink prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is easy.