In March of 1908, eight to ten women met in the home of Mrs. James E. Webb. The club was called the Ruskin Art Club, for at that time Ruskin was the leading art critic. Meetings were held weekly in the homes of members. French, Dutch, Italian, German art as well as ancient art were studied.
Tulsa became very art conscious through the influence of the Ruskin Art Club. In 1913 the Club decided to have an art exhibit and invited Miss Adah Robinson to be the chief speaker. This was her introduction to Tulsa, as she was living in Oklahoma City at the time. Her subject was, “The Foibles of Fashion.” As reported in the “Tulsa World” a few days later, Miss Robinson said, “I condemn modern fashions as silly, immoral, disgusting, and unhealthy. The slit skirt is not an aid to walking. It merely attracts attention to your hose and feet.”
On October 17, 1938, the dream of a permanent home for the Art Association was realized when it was announced that Mr. Waite Phillips was donating his home for an Art Museum for Tulsa. A year later, the Ruskin Rental Gallery was formed to support and maintain the rental project
Forty paintings were made available for public rental for a limited period of time and for a small fee. Most of the paintings had been spoken for at least six months in advance.
During WWII, most of the activities of the club and their money were used to support the war effort. Donations were made to the Red Cross and pictures were hung on the walls of the USO.
Paintings for the Ruskin Rental Gallery continued to be purchased and the Club also provided lectures for members and the public. Due to a mobile society, an exploding population and more commercial galleries opening that gave artists more outlets for their art, it was decided to close the Rental Gallery in 1975. Members continue to support Philbrook with their time and money. In 2003, the Ruskin Art Club commissioned P.S. Gordon to do a painting in to honor former First Lady Cathy Keating for her commitment to overcoming the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombing.