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Wild at Art

Tulsa artist Josh Stout injects new energy into the Historic Red Fork District

Article by Andrea Gardner

Photography by Acrylic Asylum Art

Originally published in Tulsa City Lifestyle

“I had no intention of doing any of this,” artist Josh Stout confesses as he gestures to the open space around him. We are standing in his gallery at the heart of Tulsa’s Historic Red Fork District. Large, colorful paintings on the walls depict abstract scenes – scissortails taking flight, a solitary figure atop a horse – while a few tables and chairs provide quiet nooks for conversation.

The fact that it exists at all is a wonder to Josh. Until three years ago, he was a traveling artist, roaming the country in an old school bus and a 1977 Airstream with his family. “We like being free-spirited, going where the wind takes us,” he reminisces wistfully. “It's a weird lifestyle to some but we love it.”

Yet, fast-forward to the present, and you’ll find Josh splitting his time between creating paintings and sculptures in his distinctive style, managing a gallery and other businesses with his wife Amanda, and sitting on city planning commissions and boards for the development and preservation of Red Fork and historic Route 66.

What follows is an inspiring story of how an artist fell in love with a place and, in return, the place fell in love with the artist.

When Josh and Amanda bought the 120-year-old building on West 40th Place, they were visiting family for the holidays and had no intention of staying long-term. On a whim, they took a tour of the newly-listed space and put in an offer the same day. “It just felt right, and we immediately fell in love with the Red Fork area,” Josh recalls.

The Stouts are fully committed to investing in the area. They now own the entire city block, which consists of the Josh Stout Gallery, Wasp Nest boutique, and Art Emporium 66. Out of these spaces, local artists are showcased, events are held, and new energy is being injected into an all-but-forgotten piece of Tulsa history.

Red Fork District was the home of Tulsa’s first oil well as well as the railway that brought the booming oil business to Tulsa more than 100 years ago. The area had languished for years, however, until efforts to revitalize it began in the early 2000s. It now boasts the Route 66 Historical Village, the $3.5 million replica Red Fork Train Depot, and countless new businesses like Josh Stout Gallery that are bringing new life to the area.

Even before settling in Red Fork District, he had a unique connection to it. When Red Fork Distillery began crafting spirits nearby in 2015, they called on Josh to create custom artwork for the labels. His paintings still adorn every bottle, the most recent of which is a botanical vodka created in collaboration with Tulsa Botanic Garden.

Though he never intended to be a force of change in Tulsa, Josh Stout has taken up the banner with earnestness. “I’ve watched successful artists move out of state to pursue larger markets, but I want to stay here and reinvest in my hometown,” the artist explains, citing an unparalleled drive to bring artists, collectors, and community together. “It is a part of who I am.”

Josh says the next phase for Red Fork District is encouraging investors to take on projects in the area and continuing to build it up to match its pre-statehood glory.  The next phase for the Stout Family will be a months-long artistic journey to the Caribbean later this year, where the family will pursue artistic endeavors along with some research in collaboration with the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Josh Stout Gallery (2609 W 40th Pl) is open Thursday through Saturday 12-7 p.m. and Sundays 12-4 p.m. Visit it online at and @JoshStoutGallery. 

  • Josh poses with one of his paintings.
  • Josh puts some finishing touches on a painting.
  • Prints of Josh's artwork are available for sale at the Gallery.
  • Ghost Horse, a painting by Josh Stout.
  • Josh gives a tour of his gallery space.
  • Birdsong, a painting by Josh Stout.
  • Josh Stout Gallery showcases natural elements alongside his artwork.
  • Josh's artwork shown alongside his old saddle.
  • A sculpture by Josh.
  • Josh signs bottles of Botanical Vodka by Red Fork Distillery that features his artwork. Photo: Dana Hoey, Red Fork Distillery.
  • Josh takes a break during viewing hours at the Gallery.
  • Josh Stout Gallery and Art Emporium 66 feature prominently along Route 66.
  • Josh Stout Gallery is housed in a 120-year-old building.
  • Josh Stout Gallery set to host an event.

“I’ve watched successful artists move out of state to pursue larger markets, but I want to stay here and reinvest in my hometown,”

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