Woodward Park is the home to unique art honoring Oklahoma’s Native American heritage, Shakespeare and Linnaeus
Woodward Park is known to many in Tulsa for its peaceful green spaces, towering trees, historic mansions and beautifully designed gardens, but not everyone knows about its impressive gallery of artwork. Throughout the park, visitors can wander upon dozens of memorials and statues that commemorate everything from the land’s Native American heritage to William Shakespeare and famed botanist Carl Linnaeus.
While the first of those might sound strange, the “Shakespeare Memorial Fountain” is not to be overlooked. The Tulsa Shakespeare Club, founded in 1914, first suggested the idea of a Shakespeare memorial 1931. Eventually, after proposals were gathered, the group unanimously decided build a memorial statue in what was deemed a “sculpture deficient” Tulsa. Adah M. Robinson and Bruce Goff, who both designed the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, took the project to create an Art Deco‐styled memorial. Sitting on the hill behind the lower rock garden off of 21st Street, it was designed with a main limestone shaft with cut stone panels, two benches, and a small drinking bowl. On the sides of the shaft are a bronze mold of Shakespeare’s head and a metal grill depicting six scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Another statue that dates back in history is “Appeal to the Great Spirit,” a one‐third size bronze cast of the famous statue by Cyrus Dallin. The work was donated by the Tulsa Central High School Alumni Association in 1985, the second replica made in Tulsa. Depicting a Sioux chief on horseback with his arms outstretched as he looks to the sky, legend has it that rubbing the horse’s snout would give luck to students taking exams.
Today, the sculpture sits on the northwest corner of 21st and Peoria. This work is the most famous of Cyrus Dallin’s, which was the fourth and final component of his series “The Epic of the Indian.” It was originally cast in Paris in 1909, where the statue won a gold medal at the Paris Salon before being brought to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Also coming from Europe, Carl Linnaeus is another figure celebrated within Woodward Park. Born in Sweden in 1707, the “Father of Botany” has a six-foot bronze statue in his honor in the Linnaeus Teaching Garden, a program of the Tulsa Garden Center at Woodward Park. The idea of a statue came once the Garden was completed in 2006 and Tulsa Garden Center Director of Horticulture, Barry Fugatt, was searching for a centerpiece to top off the project.
Initially, he contacted renowned artist Rosalind Cook to see what it would take to get such a statue made – hopefully pro bono. Expectedly, the cost of building was too high, so Fugatt carried on. Later on, Cook was on the phone with her daughter who was off at college, just chatting about their day. Cook mentioned the conversation she had with Fugatt, and her daughter, who happened to be studying botany, recognized Carl Linnaeus and convinced Cook to commission the sculpture for the Garden.
These are only a few of the stories that can be found in all of the artwork around the park. To read more about Woodward Park’s history, artwork, and more, visit their website at TulsaGardenCenter.org or follow them on Facebook @TulsaGardenCenter.
Every donation serves a purpose
SpringFest at Woodward Park – April 10-11, 2020 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Our annual garden market fundraiser supports operational costs of the Tulsa Garden Center and all of its programs.
The Tasting at Woodward Park – September 25, 2020 – 7 – 9 p.m.
This garden-party fundraising gala provides necessary funds for park beautification, such as Rose Garden maintenance.
Donations to the Tulsa Garden Center allow us to support local nonprofit plant societies that supplement our educational programs. TulsaGardenCenter.org