Icon search Icon hamburger
Icon close large

Tulsa: According to Joe Brainard

BY I Remember by Joe Brainard

NOTE: This guide includes excerpts from I Remember that mention Tulsa and it's role in Brainard's childhood. The book contains hundreds of memories from the artist's life, many of which involve mature subject matter.

Joe Brainard, a renowned artist and writer, grew up in Tulsa in the 1940s and 1950s. He eventually left a scholarship at the Dayton Art Institute for the excitement of New York City. His 1970 memoir, I Remember, recalls memories from both his childhood and his time in 1960s New York. The biographical book received widespread acclaim while radically departing from the conventions of a traditional memoir. The simplicity of the form has had great appeal to both writers and teachers.

In May of 1994, Joe Brainard died of AIDS-related pneumonia. Childhood friend Ron Padgett wrote a memoir about his friendship with Joe Brainard, about growing up in Oklahoma in the 1950s and about his and Brainard’s pursuit of poetry and art in New York City. The book is called Joe and can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Memoir-Brainard-Ron-Padgett/dp/1566891590/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&a...

Enjoy these excerpts, which serve as a portrait of the artist as a young man in Tulsa:

"I remember when I got a five-year pin for not missing a single morning of Sunday School for five years. (Methodist.)"

"I remember driving through the Ozarks and all the gift shops we didn't stop at."

"I remember a giant gold man taller than most buildings at "The Tulsa Oil Show."

"I remember, in Tulsa, a red sidewalk that sparkled."

"I remember in Tulsa my first one-man show of brush and ink drawings of old fashioned children. They were so intricate and fine that nobody could believe I did them with a brush. But I did."

"I remember 'the Ritz' movie theater. It was full of statues and the ceiling was like a sky at night with twinkling stars."

"I remember when Rod Padgett and I first arrived in New York City we told a cab driver to take us to the Village. He said, 'Where?' And we said, 'To the Village.' He said, 'But where in the Village?' And we said, 'Anywhere.' He took us to Sixth Avenue and 8th Street. I was pretty disappointed. I thought that the Village would be like a real village. Like my vision of Europe."

"I remember an ice cream parlor in Tulsa that had a thing called a pig's dinner. It was like a very big banana split in a wooden dish made to look like a pig's trough. If you ate it all they gave you a certificate saying you ate it all."

"I remember the first escalator in Tulsa. In a bank. I remember riding up and down it. And up and down it."

"I remember a boy named Henry who was said to have poured a mixture of orange pop and popcorn off the balcony of the 'Ritz' movie theatre as he made gagging sounds."

"I remember 'colored town' (Tulsa)."

"I remember when one year in Tulsa by some freak of nature we were invaded by millions of grasshoppers for about three or four days. I remember, downtown, whole sidewalk areas of solid grasshoppers."

"I remember driving through the Ozarks and chenille bedspreads with peacocks on them hanging outside on clotheslines for sale."

"I remember my high school art teacher's rather dubious theory that the way to tell if a paining is any good or not is to turn it upside down."

"I remember, just outside the city limits, firecrackers booths."

I Remember by Joe Brained on Amazon: