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By January 9 at 10:31am

For NatureWorks, Inc. Incorporated September 12, 1991 WAY BACK WHEN,,,

Once upon a time, there was an art show held in Tulsa, Oklahoma by the name of The DUCKS UNLIMITED ART SHOW. It was of course associated with one of the Ducks Unlimited Chapters here in Tulsa. It started in 1977, with Vince Olzawski as the President. The show was held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Tulsa in 1977 and ’78, and was not very successful. People just did not want to ‘go downtown’ on weekends. The group moved the show to Tulsa’s Camelot Inn at 51 st Street and South Peoria in 1979 and again in 1980 with about the same degree of success. Then in 1981, the Ducks Unlimited Committee got out of the ‘Art Show’ business. Olzawski and the remainder of his group continued to hold the show at the Camelot Inn. In 1982, Olzawski, renamed the show The Oklahoma Wildlife Arts Festival and it remained at the Camelot Inn for several more years. In 1991, some in the group felt the Art show needed a ‘new direction’. NatureWorks, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit corporation, totally staffed and supported by a small group of ten ‘volunteer’ Board members. Jonathan Neff was elected President, and NatureWorks continued to ‘sponsor’ the Oklahoma Wildlife Arts Festival at the Camelot. Ross Murphy was elected president in 1993, and the show was moved to the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place. When Murphy moved away in 1994, Bill Cox was elected president. The show was moved to the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel in 1995, and the name was changed to Oklahoma Wildlife Art show and Sale. In 1997, the name of the show was changed to NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale. 1998 Steve Iverson became President, and served through the summer of 2004, during which time the show grew in ‘leaps and bounds’. Painters and sculptors from all over the country wanted to get in the show. The attendance and the revenues increased year after year. NatureWorks was ‘piloted’ by Sam P. Daniel in ’05 and ’06, and the show remained at the Southern Hills Marriott until 2007, when John Reaves became President. That year the show was moved to the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel, into a ballroom containing 21,000 square feet of space, twice the space at the Marriott. The Presidency of NatureWorks passed from Reaves, to Vic Bailey in 2009, and “Wildlife“was eliminated from the name of the show. Then, to David Bond in 2011, when NatureWorks recorded its highest single sale, more than $150,000 for a ‘larger than life size’ monumental bronze by Bradford Williams, depicting two cowboys on horseback shaking hands across a fence titled “Binding Contract”. Those two ‘cowboys’ now stand at the entrance of a large cattle ranch outside of Ft. Worth, Texas. A similar piece is presently located at the Arkansas Valley National Bank in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Treak Tasker became President in 2013, and increased the floor space at the Renaissance to over 26,000 square feet. Then, Mike Linscott in 2015, followed by Dr. Mel Mercer, current President. According to Pete Messler, NatureWorks Art Show Director, the coming show will be held at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel February 23 thru 25, 2018, comprised of nearly 50 Artists and thousands of pieces of fine art.


Throughout NatureWorks’ history, the growing success of the Art Show was due in large part to the Art Show Directors as well as the President and the other officers and volunteers. Ken Greenwood, led the way as Art Show Director from 1992 through 2003, during which time the quality of ‘art’ and ‘artists’ at the show grew enormously each year. When Ken retired in 2003, Ray Goldsmith took the reins as Art Show Director and the show’s growth and national reputation continued to grow. When John Reaves finished his term as President in 2009, he stepped in as Art Show Director. He increased the size of the floor space for the show at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel to over 26,000 square feet in 2013. It was a huge success, and the show just got better! Pete Messler became Art Show Director in 2013 and will continue that role through the 2018 show, while the NatureWorks Art Show and Sale continues to be one of the premier art shows in the United States.


In the early spring of 1993 while returning from a successful ‘Sand hill Crain’ hunt in Western Oklahoma, NatureWorks Board members Bill Cox, Tiny Tomsen and Phil Hart came up with an ‘idea’: “Why not make an award to someone special who has really ‘done a lot’ for wildlife conservation?” That not only sounded like a ‘good idea’, it WAS a good idea! It grew and grew, and grew. The idea became the NatureWorks Wildlife Stewardship Award. Several months later, in 1994, Harold C. Stuart received the first NatureWorks Wildlife Stewardship Award and a ‘larger than life’ size Grizzly Bear was erected in his honor in the Park at Gilcrease museum.

The ‘Award’ became an annual event honoring special people and organizations, for their unselfish contributions of time and or money to benefit wildlife conservation causes, with the citizens in the metro Tulsa area being the beneficiaries of these beautiful monuments. In 1995 John “Jack” Zink followed Stuart. Then, Joseph H. Williams, Kenneth R. Greenwood, James W. Pielsticker, and Beauchamp Selman received the honor. J.M “Jack” Graves received the NatureWorks Stewardship Award in 2001 followed by Robert E. Lorton in ‘02, W. C. Tomsen in ’03, John T. Nickel in ’04, and Carl Pierceall in ’05. Ducks Unlimited, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The National Wild Turkey Federation, The George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center, Indian Nations Council Boy Scouts of America, and The Oklahoma Aquarium have been recipients of this award, as have E. Grant Hastings, and Landis “Bo” Morris, Winthrop W. Ingersoll, Randi and Fred Wightman, John D. Groendyke, Sam P. Daniel, Donni Pittman, and then Harvey Payne in 2016. In 2017, the honor went to Delmer Smith. NatureWorks will continue to honor those individuals or organizations who strive to further wildlife preservation causes throughout this part of our beautiful state and country. There are now twenty eight NatureWorks monuments located in the Tulsa metro area from the terminal at the Tulsa International Airport, to Bixby, Oklahoma, to Jenks, Oklahoma, down Riverside Drive to downtown Tulsa, at the Turkey Mountain Trailhead, and at LaFortune Park. The 2018 Stewardship Wildlife Stewardship Award and the location of the monument will be announced prior to the Art Show in February 2018. HARD WORK MAKES GOOD THINGS HAPPEN!!! The success of The NatureWorks Art Show and The NatureWorks Stewardship/ Monument Program are the results of hard work and unrelenting devotion of the NatureWorks Board members to the ‘mission statements’ in our By Laws: Our purpose is to engage in charitable activities to support the cause of wildlife conservation through: • Cultivation of public appreciation for Wildlife and Western Art as a unique American genre, and • Support of Wildlife conservation and Wildlife educational efforts of governmental and private conservation organizations. •And, to organize and promote an annual Art Show. We accomplish these goals by promoting and presenting the annual NatureWorks Art Show and Sale, and the NatureWorks Wildlife Stewardship Monument Program, and donating the monies we raise to wildlife conservation causes. Our CREATOR put the wildlife here. It’s our responsibility to take care of it! We’re ‘good’ at what we do’, because, We ‘love’ what we do!

…….to be continued

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January 9 at 10:24am

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