FEATURING TWO NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN PAINTINGS BY WOODY GUTHRIE
TULSA, OK – Sept. 27, 2022 – Opening at Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center Oct. 12, “Woody Guthrie: People Are the Song” offers new perspective on Guthrie’s life and art, including two never-before-seen paintings of Jesus Christ and George Washington.
Utilizing the Woody Guthrie Center’s vast collection and curated in collaboration with The Morgan Library & Museum, Woody Guthrie Publications and music historian Bob Santelli, the exhibit tells Guthrie’s story through his own lyrics, poetry, artwork, prose, musical instruments, photographs and correspondence.
Two exclusive, never-before-seen Woody Guthrie oil paintings, created in 1938 and 1939, will make their public debut as part of the exhibit. Recently discovered in 2020 by Michelle Farrar-Harris in her parents’ closet, these paintings confirm Woody’s autobiographical claim that he “…painted portraits of famous people like Jesus Christ and George Washington” to sell to his neighbors as decorative art.
Exclusive to the Tulsa installation of “People Are the Song,” the paintings were donated to the Woody Guthrie Center by the Farrar-Harris family.
“Finding these portraits is evidence to Woody’s earliest artistic endeavors. It’s always amazing when these hidden gems appear from back rooms and closets. And it’s amazing that we’re still unearthing so much more of Woody’s creations,” said Nora Guthrie, daughter of Woody Guthrie.
“Using our temporary gallery space to take a deeper dive into what we are all about is a unique opportunity,” said Steve Higgins, Managing Director of American Song Archives, which oversees the Woody Guthrie Center and Bob Dylan Center®. “The full scope of his creativity—encompassing topics such as people, the environment, love, spirituality, family and racial justice—will be on display.”
“Woody Guthrie: People Are the Song” runs through Sunday, Feb. 5.
- New Paintings: Two never-before-seen oil paintings (1938) of George Washington and Jesus Christ (1939) displayed alongside Guthrie’s portrait of Abraham Lincoln, from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
- Audio Guide Experience Narrated by Steve Earle: Visitors are encouraged to enhance their experience by bringing their personal smartphones and headphones to scan QR codes within the exhibit. Walk alongside Guthrie’s creative works while listening to audio recordings of him sharing stories and insights into the time and life he lived.
- Touchscreen Interactives: The exhibit will feature new interactives including, “Draw with Woody,” a curated digital experience designed for children of all ages. This station features some of Guthrie’s best-known children’s songs and a chance for visitors to express their own creativity with Guthrie as a guide.
- Member Opening Event: Members of the Woody Guthrie Center will be given an intimate guided tour of the exhibit during a private event held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with guest speaker, Anna Canoni, granddaughter of Woody Guthrie and co-curator of the exhibit.
In celebration of the exhibit opening, the Woody Guthrie Center will be hosting a series of free and paid events throughout the week, including panel discussions, concerts and more. On opening day, Anna Canoni will give free tours of the exhibition with paid admission at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. A full list of events can be found at woodyguthriecenter.org/events.
Tickets to “Woody Guthrie: People Are the Song” are on sale now at woodyguthriecenter.org—where memberships are also available. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
About the Woody Guthrie Center®
The Woody Guthrie Center, opened in 2013, is dedicated to spreading Woody Guthrie’s message of diversity, equality and justice to a new generation who can create their own ripples of change. The center honors Guthrie’s life and legacy by educating visitors, teachers, students and scholars about his relevance today and his important role in American history through on-site programming, classroom materials, youth music programs, artist-in-residence programs, school outreach, internships, fellowship opportunities and the Woody Guthrie Archives.
For more information, please visit www.woodyguthriecenter.org.