Tulsa World: Woody Guthrie Center exhibition links John Mellencamp, Woody Guthrie

Tulsa World by Jimmie Tramel

The Woody Guthrie Center is paying homage to John Mellencamp by drawing connections to Woody Guthrie in an upcoming pocket exhibition scheduled to open Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Though born 39 years and 700-plus miles apart, the connections between Guthrie and Mellencamp may be closer than they appear, according to a news release about the exhibition. The Woody Guthrie Center looks to highlight some of these similarities as part of a larger “refresh” to its smaller exhibit spaces throughout the museum.

“Most people might shortsightedly think of Mellencamp’s ‘Jack & Diane’ and mistake it as a pop song rather than a Midwesterner’s reverence to the innocence found in small-town, working-class youth,” newly appointed director Cady Shaw said in the news release.

“With a closer look, you’ll find Mellencamp has been weaving threads of heartland charm with folk-steeped storytelling and heavy-mitted activism through his lyrics, paintings and advocacy his whole life. From co-founding Farm Aid in 1985, touring for free on sidewalks and public parks across America in 2000, to reworking Bob Dylan’s 1964 ‘Only a Pawn in Their Game’ to reflect the racial turmoil following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Mellencamp has consistently been an active voice for the greater good.”

Following the opening of the Mellencamp exhibition, the Woody Guthrie Center will present another pocket exhibit to highlight its recently acquired Oscar Brand Family Collection on Dec. 7. Both exhibits will take the place of the center’s current “Fire in Little Africa” displays that saw an extended run following a debut in spring of 2021.

Tickets for the Woody Guthrie Center can be purchased at woodyguthriecenter.org. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.