Tell Tale: A Conversation with Joe Andoe

I've been elated about Joe Andoe's return to Tulsa for some time. Not only is he exhibiting brand-new, commissioned work, but he's doing so for the benefit of Tulsa Girls Art School Project, a phenomenal non-profit organization that provides underprivileged young girls with an opportunity for arts education.

At Dwelling Spaces, 119 S. Detroit, tomorrow evening, from 6 to 8pm, Andoe will sell 100 hand-painted t-shirts for $100 each, and the girls of TGAS will sell 100 original flower paintings for $100 each. You can probably do the math on your own, but that provides an opportunity for TGAS to earn $20,000, which would be monumental for the school.

Read my story in Urban Tulsa Weekly here.

And below is a trsncript of most of the interview I did with Joe Andoe. He's a genuinely nice guy and surprisingly easy to talk to — so much so that we spent more than 40 minutes on the phone, chatting not only about the benefit exhibit but also about the possibility of Jubilee City, his autobiography, being made into a film and the past, present and future of Tulsa.

At the end of the post is additional information on how tomorrow night's exhibit will go. E-mail tulsaartblog@yahoo.com with any questions.

HW: How did you first hear about Tulsa Girls Art School Project?

Joe Andoe: When I showed up at the (Aberson’s Exhibits) show (on June 24), I was kind of late, and someone handed me a diploma-looking thing from the mayor that named June 24 “Joe Andoe Day.”

I took it to my mother’s house to show to her, and we took it to Ziegler to have it framed so she could hang it on her wall. Someone in there said we should go across the street and see Matt Moffett’s little girls school. It sounded cute, so my mother and I walked across the street.

My mother was so impressed with the girls; they were all so well-behaved, just sitting there painting, and so polite.

At the school they have this peg board, a gallery space, where the girls could sell their work. And half of the proceeds from the paintings went into a scholarship for them and the other half went to the school. So I was looking at it, and I picked out one, and said, “I’ll buy this one.” Then I looked at the painting next to that one and thought, “She’s going to feel bad if I buy this girl’s painting and not hers.” Then I looked at the next girl and said, “Matt, just sell me one of each.”

The girls were so cute, they brought them out to the trunk of my car. And they’re such good painters. They’re so unafraid. Matt’s a good teacher.

HW: So how did you arrive at the idea to do a benefit for the school?
JA: Later, the next day or that night, I talked to Mary Beth and she asked if I’d ever do a t-shirt or something for her space. And it just came to me: “How about we do this?” Just that quick. It’s just another example of my mouth writing a check my ass can’t cash. I thought I’d draw a little flower with a marker or something on each one and sign it. But I got wrapped up, carried away. Whoever buys these things for $100 apiece will certainly get their money’s worth. I sell things for $25,000 that I don’t put this much work into.

HW: Why flowers?
JA: Flowers reminded me of the little girls. They’re the right size to paint. It’s just one consistent thing that could be similar on each of the shirts.

HW: Who decided there’s be 100 of them?
JA: Oh, that was my big idea. You hang around me long enough I’ll make a mistake like that.

When I got back to the city, I was listening to the public radio station, and some guy was on who wrote a book about childhood development and the benefit of teaching children music at younger age. He said they grow up to be more sensitive adults, that it tanslates into human interaction later in life.

I got to thinking, I bet art is the same way. Anytime they’re sensitive to the fact that this color next to this color makes you feel certain way, then they can control things, the way they feel. Art is about empathy anyway. At the root of it all, people relating to art is something akin to, in nursery, when one baby cries and then they all cry. Or when one person yawns then it makes you yawn, too.

When you’re an artist, if you feel something and put it down on a canvas, there’s good chance you can make someone else feel the same way without words. I figured, if these girls could paint and they had this, the ripple effects would be real positive in their community.

HW: Did the fact that most of these girls hail from the same part of Tulsa where you’re from, the north side, increase your desire to hold this benefit for them?
JA: It didn’t hurt. The fact they’re underprivileged meant more to me than anything. They’re not getting it as easy as most kids in Tulsa do.

HW: What did you do with the 24 paintings you bought?
JA: I gave them to my family, all my nieces and nephews. I kept two for myself, gave my mother one, gave my brothers one.

In case you were wondering...here is how it's going to go down Thursday night at Dwelling Spaces

Joe Andoe Hand Painted T-shirt Art Exhibit 2009

Register at desk outside of shop to get a number if you want to purchase a t-shirt
Doors will open at 6pm
6:30 we will call #1, #2, etc.
You will have 1 minute to pick your t-shirt
PLEASE BE READY…you will only have 1 minute to choose
Once you have chosen your t-shirt
Pay at the counter
Keep your receipt to pick shirt up on Saturday or after
This is an Art Exhibit
$100 each 100% goes to Tulsa Girls Art School
Anytime during the event you can purchase the flower paintings by the girls at TGAS which will be on display on the back wall. The paintings by the girls are $100 each 100% to TGAS.
Donations are also accepted directly to TGAS.
Dwelling Spaces
119 S. Detroit Ave





Jeff Shaw said...

What a unique opportunity for you, to interview Andoe. I bet that was fun. Great article by the way.

Anonymous said...


He is the one who can unite the republican party and gurantee a win for the general election.