Philbrook Museum Trading Tulips for Tomatoes

Path, from the Philbrook Museum gardens, by Flickr user trp0. Click image to visit on Flickr.
Path, from the Philbrook Museum gardens, by Flickr user trp0. Click image to visit on Flickr.

The Tulsa, OK Philbrook Museum of Art is doing something different with their grounds this summer. Faced with a budget shortfall that prevented them from maintaining all of their formal gardens, they decided instead to plant vegetables and harvest them for hungry Oklahomans. NPR reported on this story: click here to listen.

The Urban Tulsa Weekly reports that the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma welcomes the fruit and vegetable donations:

"Fresh produce is one of our most highly coveted items," [community relations director Cindy Stevens] said. "To be able to offer not just fresh produce, but produce picked that day or the day before is something that is a tremendous gift to our programs."

It will help people to eat healthier, too, which is so often a difficulty for low-income families. The seeds and other supplies for the vegetable garden were donated, and with the help of local volunteers, the museum staff is maintaining and harvesting the crops. Read the Philbrook Museum's full press release here.

This is something I love about living in Oklahoma. We seem to have an innate do-it-yourself impulse, and we are serious about supporting our local communities. Kudos to the Philbrook for turning economic hardship into an opportunity to help others.

UPDATE: Speaking of public gardens, here is a cool infographic of the new White House vegetable garden.

Later this month at the Philbrook, I will be giving a public talk about the Peggy Preheim exhibit. Preheim's mind-bogglingly intricate work, mainly miniature pencil drawings, present quasi-personal narratives that pull the viewer into her mysterious world. Come to the museum on Wednesday July 8th at noon to listen and discuss.

This post is part of NaBloPoMo for July 2009.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces New Artists In The Workforce Study

Sarah Atlee working in the studio, 2007. Photo by David L. Gray. Click image to enlarge. Sarah Atlee working in the studio, 2007. Photo by David L. Gray. (Click image to see full size.)

The National Endowment for the Arts has just released a comprehensive new study examining the role of artists in the American economy. In a nutshell: We're more important than we thought. From the NEA's website:

“Artists now play a huge but mostly unrecognized role in the new American economy of the 21st century,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “This report shows how important American artists are to both our nation’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity of our communities.”

Numbering almost two million, artists are one of the largest classes of workers in the nation, only slightly smaller than the U.S. military’s active-duty and reserve personnel (2.2 million). Artists now represent 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force.

Here are some other factoids (that I kinda already knew, and that the NEA has kindly confirmed):

* Artists are entrepreneurial – 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed. * Artists are underemployed – one-third of artists work for only part of the year. * Artists generally earn less than workers with similar education levels. The median income from all sources in 2005 was $34,800 for artists, higher than the $30,100 median for the total labor force, and lower than the $43,200 for all professionals.

You can download the entire study in PDF format from the NEA website.

This came to me via the OVAC Blog, a great resource for Oklahoma artists.