Tell Your Friends About Don't Tell Dad

In 2018, Charlotte Bumgarner, Margo Starr, and Dax Dyson were in their late teens—a few high school students with a passion for art and music in need of a place to perform and show their work. 

It’s hard to get adults to take a group of 17-year-old artists seriously, so they decided to create their own space. Dax’s dad’s house proved the perfect gallery and thus ‘Don’t Tell Dad’ was born.

“But Dax’s dad knew,” Starr said. “We definitely told him.” 

Their first event was small. The word ‘rag-tag’ came up a few times in my conversation with Bumgarner and Starr, and for good reason. The group—part art collective, part curatorial club—does much of their work on the fly with the support of many friends and at least one dad. It’s improvisational, spontaneous, and most definitely a communal activity. Though Dyson, Starr, and Bumgarner are the founders, they’re humble and quick to point to all the people who contribute. 

Don’t Tell Dad’s inaugural event was very much for friends by friends, but a lot has changed since 2018. For one thing, time has passed, their audience has expanded, and they aren’t teenagers anymore. Their collective resume boasts two art events and a zine, published in collaboration with the Black artist collective, Black Moon Tulsa. Bumgarner is a musician in her own right, and Starr and Dax are both visual artists. Simply put: they aren’t kids anymore and it’s time to start taking them seriously. 

Their upcoming event isn’t at someone’s dad’s house. No, this time Don’t Tell Dad is taking over a warehouse and showing installations for two consecutive nights. This project is more ambitious, but it is keeping with the accessible and communal values that they started with. They know what it’s like to be young and fighting for space in Tulsa’s galleries, and they want to help bolster everyone, regardless of experience. 

The event will be a lot of artists’ first showing, Bumgarner explained. 

“Anyone who messages us about showing their art, we say yes,” She said.

This is what makes Don’t Tell Dad so exciting. It isn’t just about the art itself, but about creating a culture of inclusivity, fun, and community. Starr and Bumgarner emphasized the importance of creating a free, safe space. They aren’t selling tickets, and they aren’t selling alcohol. It’s a family-friendly event crowd-funded by a GoFundMe page. In this way it’s still by friends, for friends; the friend group just got a whole lot bigger. 

Check out Don’t Tell Dad’s upcoming event on August 12th and 13th at 7 pm at 65 N. Madison Ave. Bring your friends — bring your dad.