The Jacobson House Native Art Center is hosting its reopening on May 20 and celebrating with a new exhibit, silent art auction and tribal performances.
The center closed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and during its closure, the University of Oklahoma reinvested into the property. Now three years later, the Jacobson House Native Art Center is reopening its doors to the public with a new look and new displays.
Chair of the Jacobson House Board of Trustees, Brent Greenwood, detailed the obstacles faced during the center’s closure.
“(The closing) gave us the chance to get some things done to the house,” Greenwood said. “There were a lot of talks and discussions leading up to what has happened, and it’s been years trying to get on the same page to get OU on board with our efforts. I think it’s all about timing, and it all fell into place for us. The investment also created a renewed energy amongst the board and the community.”
The Jacobson House is named after Oscar B. Jacobson, the OU School of Art director from 1915 to 1954. Jacobson and his wife Sophie built the house in 1917 and 1918, raised their three children and kick-started their careers within the home.
The pair co-wrote essays on Native American art, and Sophie published works such as “Berber Art” under the pen name of Jeanne D’Ucel.
Alongside his work at OU, Jacobson taught lectures on Native American art and promoted artists across America and in Europe. During the Great Depression, Jacobson commissioned Native American artists for work through the Works Progress Admistration’s Federal Art Project.
Jacobson is credited for creating a program that led to the group known as the Kiowa Six, a group of six people from the Kiowa tribe who were admitted into OU and whose art was shown around the world by Jacobson.
“What we’re doing today is continuing the mission of the Jacobson House, which was to promote Native arts and culture through programming, services and outreach to the community,” Greenwood said.
The Jacobson House Native Art Center’s reopening will showcase artwork by the Kiowa Six, as well as other Native American artists. The event will also feature singers, a tribal blessing, a reading from a Kiowa Six’s descendant Oscar Hokeah, a food truck outdoors and more.
With the house located within walking distance from the university, the reopening will provide students the ability to witness and draw inspiration from what Greenwood describes as “a moment in time.”
“(Art) documents are the provenance of where our people were at that time,” Greenwood said. “That narrative and explanation isn’t often told through a tribal lens.”
The Jacobson House Native Art Center will reopen from noon to 6 p.m. on May 20. The event is free to attend.
This story was edited by Silas Bales and Emma Blakley. Nikkie Aisha copy edited this story.
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