TULSA — Woody Guthrie is coming home to Oklahoma this weekend.
The Woody Guthrie Center, the new home of the Woody Guthrie Archives, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday and Sunday in Tulsa's burgeoning Brady Arts District. The museum will open its doors at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The festivities will include free admission Saturday and Sunday, along with a film screening, book signing and free concerts across the street at Guthrie Green urban park.
“Our focus is on education and the arts,” said Deana McCloud, the center's executive director. “We want to draw in young people and get them excited about the idea of using their creativity in the same way that Woody did, whether it's through art or writing or if you have some kind of a huge talent with math. Whatever you've got as a natural talent, express yourself through that. Express your world through that outlet,”
Born July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Guthrie is best remembered as an influential folk singer-songwriter, but he also was an artist, writer, newspaper columnist, radio show host and activist.
He died Oct. 3, 1967, of Huntington's disease, a hereditary neurodegenerative condition.
The Woody Guthrie Center's permanent exhibit will feature selections of original items from the Woody Guthrie Archives, including Guthrie's handwritten copy of “This Land Is Your Land,” along with lyrics, artwork, photographs, personal notebooks, letters, postcards and rare, never-before-seen musical instruments.
The exhibit also will feature objects from musicians who were influenced by Guthrie, including Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, John Cohen and Jimmy LaFave.
LaFave, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the Red Dirt Rangers and Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and her husband, Johnny Irion, will perform for free Saturday at Guthrie Green in honor of the grand opening.
On Sunday, Guthrie Green will host another free concert featuring JD McPherson, Samantha Crain, Ramsay Midwood and Ripple Green.
“It ties so perfectly into what we want to promote: that Oklahoma talent that we have,” McCloud said.