Re:Generation, Greenwood 1921-2021 is an immersive public art project that opens May 30th. A story of rebuilding the Paradise Baptist Church, one of only 3 churches remaining in Greenwood after the Tulsa Race Massacre.
May 30th to June 30th, daylight hours. Parking is available.
From Press Release: As Tulsans reckon with the upcoming centennial of the Race Massacre, one of Greenwood’s leading churches is telling its unique story of resilience – and of regeneration. Paradise Baptist Church, which is one block off Greenwood Avenue, is presenting a public art installation commemorating its role in the Race Massacre. “Re:Generation 1921–2021” is a display of four large-scale panoramic photographs taken in 1921 of the church in the aftermath of the Massacre. The images are each ten feet tall and stretch across 30 feet, installed on four exterior walls of the church. Artist Phil Buehler of Brooklyn, NY created the installation to depict the scale and significance of the race massacre, and to contribute a new perspective from a vantage point farther north of some of the more commonly seen images.
These photographs capture the large-scale destruction in North Tulsa in 1921, including the burned-out shell of Paradise Baptist Church. The American National Red Cross originally took the photographs in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre to document the destruction and rebuilding. Taken from the top of Sunset Hill, they give a unique, almost 180-degree view of the widespread devastation and provide an expanded understanding of the extent of the Massacre. The original negatives and prints are located in the collections of the Library of Congress National Archive, the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum and Oklahoma State University.
Buehler obtained high resolution scans of original 5”x7” glass negatives and prints from the different archives, with each panorama made from four photographs that were stitched together. He digitally restored each and created new large photo murals. In researching through Google Earth and Google Street Views he discovered they were taken from the top of Sunset Hill, and was the first to discover that the burned out shell of a church in two of the panoramas was Paradise Baptist Church. He later flew a drone over the now-tree-covered hilltop to compare to Greenwood today.
Pamela Vickers, the church’s historian, added, “We didn’t know these pictures of the church burned down even existed until Phil wrote to us with his idea.” Visitors to the art installation will have the opportunity to hear Vickers’ grandmother, a survivor of the Massacre, tell her story by scanning a QR code on their phone.
Paradise Baptist Church is nicknamed “Tulsa’s Friendly Church,” and is one of Tulsa’s leading churches in the Greenwood neighborhood. Founded in 1912, the church was burned down during the 1921 Tulsa race Massacre, and rebuilt in 1926. The current building was constructed in 1960. It is part of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., America's oldest and largest black denomination. Pastor Sam Holmes, Jr. joined Paradise in 1999 from Dallas, TX. Membership is 600 with an average Sunday attendance of 250. Worship is currently being held virtually Sundays at 10:30 a.m. 507 E King St, Tulsa, OK 74106. (918) 584-6820.
Phil Buehler has been creating large immersive public art installations that bring together photography and archival research to bring some of the past into the present. He documented the political landscape with walk-in panoramic photographs (cycloramas) of cultural hotspots like Ferguson, MO (on the spot where Michael Brown was shot), Flint, MI (in a playground surrounded by empty water bottles because the water fountains are contaminated), the border wall in Nogales, AZ (where a multi-generation family holds hands through the wall), the Women’s March on Washington, DC and a Trump rally in Cincinnati, OH. His “Ferguson” cyclorama was installed in Times Square as part of a Black Lives Matter event, the Spring Break Art Show and at a Brooklyn High School for Black History Month. His most recent public art project was the “Wall of Lies” in New York City, a 100 foot long, 10 foot tall mural with all 20,000 of Trump’s lies, as fact checked by the Washington Post. His photography is also exhibited at Front Room Gallery in Manhattan.
Buehler has close ties to Tulsa and the Woody Guthrie Center. His award-winning book, Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty, brought together images of the now-abandoned hospital where Guthrie spent his final years with archival imagery and interviews with his family and associates. He has contributed several artifacts from the life of the legendary musician to the center’s permanent collection. It was during his first trip to Tulsa to visit the Woody Guthrie Center that he first heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre after noticing the memorial plaques embedded in the sidewalk and learned of its history at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. In many ways, Guthrie’s life and music inspired this project.