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Tulsa Indian Art Festival February 12-14

Although some people say it’s Tulsa’s best-kept secret, Fran Kimmel wants everyone to know about it.

By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Gifts & Decor | Issue: February 2010

Fran Kimmel, Tulsa Indian Art Festival co-chair, introduces “the real thing” in American Indian art and cultural appreciation.

Fran Kimmel, Tulsa Indian Art Festival co-chair, introduces “the real thing” in American Indian art and cultural appreciation.

Although some people say it’s Tulsa’s best-kept secret, Fran Kimmel wants everyone to know about it. She’s referring to the annual Tulsa Indian Art Festival, to be held February 12-14, 2010 at the SpiritBank Event Center, 105th and S. Memorial.

Now in its 24th year, the festival will honor the spirit of the American Indian with a fine art market, music, authentic Indian food, storytelling, cultural demonstrations and a student art exhibit. Fran and Monetta Trepp, the last surviving member of the pioneering Perryman family, have been involved with every single festival. The ladies co-chair this year’s event.

The celebration begins on Friday with a student and senior discount. Friday evening, a special preview dinner will include juried art awards and scholarship awards, as well as live and silent auctions, a poster signing by featured artist Mel Cornshucker, and entertainment by recording artist Arvel Bird. This will be the first-ever seated dinner and the only time the juried art will be on display.

The student showcase features the work of up-and-coming artists of the future. Schools throughout Oklahoma sponsor field trips to the Tulsa Indian Art Festival to marvel at the paintings, sculptures, beadwork and more from students in grades 6 through 12. “It’s amazing what these talented young people can do,” says Fran. “They hold our future festivals in their hands."

Through the years, approximately $85,000 in scholarships have been presented to the emerging artists. Fran recalls how several past scholarship winners have gone on to pursue careers in teaching art. Some have returned to their roots by participating in the festival as professional artists.

Fran believes what sets the Tulsa Festival apart from others is the fact that they make the event more personal. No vendors are permitted, so there are no mass produced tourist-type items. And artists are carefully screened and required to personally man their booths. Some even do their work on site.

The handcrafted artwork presented by the exhibiting artists is a reflection of a diverse culture from a wide range of tribes, all living in harmony with the earth. Each color, texture and material is representative of the land from which it came.

True to Indian culture, there is a story behind all the pottery, jewelry, paintings, beadwork, sculptures and baskets that will be available to enjoy or purchase. Buyers, collectors and gallery owners can take advantage of a rare opportunity to buy directly from the artists and learn about what they are buying.

“People go away from our festival thinking they have had an experience, rather than just went to an art show. They are touched by what they see, feel and hear,” says Fran. An estimated 5,000 guests are expected at this year’s event.

The Tulsa Indian Art Festival is an all-volunteer nonprofit network that sponsors scholarships in visual and performing arts to qualified American Indian students. Sponsoring partners include Prescor Inc., Davis H. Elliot, American Airlines, Oklahoma State Arts Council, Arts and Humanities of Tulsa, and Arvest Bank.

Daily general admission is $8 per person. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. The Art Market opens each day at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are required for the Friday evening dinner. Tickets are $75 per person. For more information, call (918) 298-2300 or visit

For more information, contact

Tulsa Indian Art Festival

(918) 298-2300

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About Author Deanna Rebro

Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.

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