A new but retro-looking sign for Josh Stout Gallery lighted the night for the first time Tuesday evening in the Red Fork neighborhood just off Route 66 in southwest Tulsa.
Stout, who specializes in creating sculptures and paintings, said in a telephone interview Tuesday he moved his gallery from his home in March into the 100-year-old building at 2609 W. 40th Place, a stone’s throw from the Southwest Boulevard alignment of Route 66.
Stout said he’s planning a soft opening June 6 so “people can see the building” if the city allows businesses to fully operate by then. Tulsa’s mayor ordered many businesses closed during the coronavirus pandemic. If all goes well this summer, Stout will hold a grand opening in September.
He said the 11-by-4-foot sign was built by Global Sign Solutions in nearby Mounds, Oklahoma, for about $8,000. It’s made of a combination of old-fashioned neon and LED lighting.
Unlike many other businesses in the Tulsa area, he didn’t pursue a grant from the city’s Route 66 neon-sign grant program. He paid for the whole thing out-of-pocket.
“Sometimes, when you have a vision, you go with it,” he said.
He said he and his wife looked over many old photographs of neon signs, taking ideas from here and there before settling on a design.
Stout also said the building’s proximity to Route 66 played a role in putting his gallery there.
“It was a huge factor,” he said. “The location and building tied the whole thing together. The whole corridor of Route 66 in Tulsa is in a major boom.”
As for the brick building, he said he was able to find information about previous businesses there only until about 1950, when it was a dry cleaner. He’s enlisted the Tulsa Historical Society for research to fill the gaps about its earliest 30 years.
Stout said he’s trying to maintain the classic look of the building on the inside and out. That’s why he’s wanting to have the early June soft opening, so he can show off the retro interior, as well.
(Hat tip to Susan Yates; image of the Josh Stout Gallery sign courtesy of Josh Stout)