NEW YORK (AP) – Elvis Costello, Patti Smith and Mavis Staples will be among expected dignitaries in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend for the opening of the Bob Dylan Center, Museum and Collection celebrating the work of the Nobel laureate.
Dylan himself won’t be among them, unless he surprises everyone.
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The subject and name of the center have an open invitation to visit at any time, although their absence seems completely in character, said center director Steven Jenkins. Oddly enough, Dylan was in Tulsa three weeks ago for a date on his concert tour, sandwiched between Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Arkansas. He didn’t ask to look around.
“I don’t want to put words in his mouth,” Jenkins said. “I can only guess at his reasoning. Maybe he finds it embarrassing.”
It’s certainly unusual for a living person—Dylan, who turns 81 on May 24—to dedicate a museum to him, but such is the shade he has popularized since his emergence in the early 1960s. put on music. He is still working, mainly performing on stage in a show dedicated to his most recent material.
And that’s still pushing the envelope. “Murder Most Foul,” Dylan’s nearly 17-minute rumored take on the Kennedy assassination and celebrity, is quietly surprising like “Like a Rolling Stone” almost half a century ago, even though he’s no longer at the center of popular culture.
The center offers an immersive film experience, performance spaces, a studio where visitors can play producers and “mix” different elements of the instrument into Dylan’s songs, and a curated tour where people walk through the stages of their careers in music. can travel. There are over 100,000 items in the collection, many of which are accessed by scholars through appointment only.
The museum’s creators said they wanted to create an experience for casual visitors, who might not know much about Dylan’s work and for the truly hardcore – skimmers, swimmers and divers, said designer Allen of the firm Olsson Kundig. Maskin said.
The museum hopes to celebrate the creative process in general, and at the opening there will be a display of the work of photographer Jerry Schatzberg, whose 1965 image adorns the three-story front of the building.
Since Dylan is still forming, “we’ll continue to play catch-up” with him, Jenkins said.
So for a man who was born and raised in Minnesota, came to the music era in New York and now lives in California, how does a museum dedicated to his life’s work end up in Oklahoma?
Jenkins said that he never appeared to be of the nostalgic type, but Dylan quickly recognized that his work could have historical interest and value.
Along with his team, he set aside boxes full of artifacts including photos, rare recordings, and handwritten lyrics that show how his songs were revised and rewritten.
With the use of those songs, two of the early repertoire would focus on how the songs “Jokerman” and “Tangled Up in Blue” were shaped—the latter being so elastic that even after the song was released, Dylan verses. was changing.
Dylan sold his collection in 2016 to the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, which also operates the Woody Guthrie Center—a museum that celebrates one of Dylan’s musical heroes and is only steps from the new Dylan Center.
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Jenkins said Dylan loves the Guthrie Museum, and also appreciates Tulsa’s rich holdings of Native American art. Most of them are on display at another new facility, the Gilcrease Museum, which is also the world’s largest holding of art from the American West.
“I think this is going to be a true tourist attraction for Tulsa for all the right reasons,” said Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum. “This is one of the great musicians in the history of mankind and everyone who wants to study his career and watch the development of his talent will be attracted to it.”
Bynum hopes this will also encourage others who want to someday showcase their archives, and make Tulsa a center for the study of modern American music.
Dylan designed and built a 16-foot-tall metal sculpture that will be displayed at the entrance of the museum. Otherwise, he had nothing to do with the design of the museum and declined to comment about the opening through a spokesperson.
“If Bob were telling us what we can or can’t do, it would have felt like a vanity project in a way,” Maskin said. “Not satisfying Bob Dylan was a tremendous relief.”
Still, it’s safe to assume that the lines of communication are open if necessary: Jenkins, the center’s director, is the brother of Larry Jenkins, Dylan’s longtime media representative.
In addition to dinners to celebrate the opening this weekend, Costello, Smith and Staples will all perform separate concerts at Cain’s Ballroom. Costello was asked to program a jukebox that would be on display at the museum and, within a day, submitted his suggestions for 160 Dylan songs and covers, said Steven Jenkins.
The Bob Dylan Center is open to the public on May 10.
Maskin has no hope that Dylan will ever see the designer’s work. Still, he indulges in fantasizing himself on a slow summer day, with a security guard in the corner, and walking among demonstrations slipping into black jeans, sunglasses, and a familiar mop of hair.
“To be honest, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “I think he’s interested in the work he’s doing, not the work he’s done.”