A brief history of Bartlesville Art Association

During the early 1950s, a group of artists painted together at Herb Sheller’s studio in Bartlesville but needed more space. They noticed a park shelter that had degenerated into a hostel for hobos and makeshift barn for horses. The group asked for permission from the City to fix up the dilapidated building. On May 13, 1952, the group drafted a constitution and became formally known as the Bartlesville Artists Association. Paul Perkins was elected the first president in the Association’s new home: The Art Center in Johnstone Park.

The Art Center was the beloved home of BAA where classes, workshops, and other events were hosted for the next 65 years, including our annual Spring Art Show and Sale, one of the longest-running civic events in Bartlesville.

The name of the organization was changed to the Bartlesville Art Association in 1965 to encourage membership not only of artists but anyone who appreciates art and wants to help promote the visual arts in Bartlesville. BAA incorporated, becoming a tax-exempt not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

In 2016 BAA began raising funds for much needed repairs to The Art Center. The building was deemed to be in a flood plain and as such the City could no longer maintain it. Around this time Scott Ambler generously invited BAA to move to a little-used office building in the Price Tower Arts Center and we gratefully accepted.

BAA made our big move in April 2017. We are directly north of Price Tower, the landmark skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The old Art Center was razed shortly after the move.

Still an all-volunteer organization, BAA is now thriving with art activities nearly every day. We have partnered with civic organizations and our local schools to provide arts education and promotion of the visual arts. Bartlesville is recognized as one of the top arts communities in the state. Thank you to all who founded BAA, those who continue to support us, and all members past and present.

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