The story behind the many graffiti murals at Mad Dog Liquor in Tulsa

For about 15 years, the Mad Dog Liquor store along Route 66 in east Tulsa has given a canvas to varying graffiti artists for their work.

The Tulsa World talked to the store’s owner, Jackie Dutton, who said the building originally was a drab gray but opened it up to local graffiti artists after gaining an appreciation for street art during her travels.

Not just anyone can paint their creations on Dutton’s business:

1. Artists have to “buff the walls” or put a coat of primer up before they start a new piece.
2. No racist, hateful or gang-related art is allowed.
3. Artists must have Dutton’s permission to paint. Newer artists might get a spot in the back, while more established artists get walls that face the street.
4. Art stays up for one week before the space becomes available to another artist.

The city initially tried to discourage Dutton for allowing the graffiti art, but she ignored the plea.

Since then, intricate street art has popped up in other parts of the city, including the Brady Arts District, Cherry Street, the Woody Guthrie Center, Hoover Community Mural and Greenwood.

Now, as more tourists flock to see the sights along Route 66, Mad Dog Liquor is becoming a popular spot to stop. Dutton’s guestbook includes visitors from Finland, Spain, Italy, France, and Greece. A book written in Mandarin about Route 66 features art at the store.
“I’m hoping that people embrace all kinds of art,” Dutton said. “Art comes in different forms. It’s not just oil painting on a canvas or watercolors. And it can be anywhere — in a parking lot or on a wall. I just want the community to have a whole appreciation of art.”

Rhys Martin, president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, shot these photos of the store’s Black Lives Matter mural shortly after the death last year of George Floyd:

Other varied designs over the years:

Here’s another mural in a Route 66 theme:

A time-lapse video of a mural being created:

(Image of a mural of Michael Jackson in 2009 at Mad Dog Liquors in Tulsa by thinktk via Flickr)

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