Oklahoma Arts Council
After nearly six years in storage, more than 500 works of art are finally returning to the Oklahoma State Capitol. They are joined by nearly 20 newly commissioned monumental and life-size works. The reinstallation of the artwork, representing five separate art collections, began on Monday, June 6. It will take place in phases until the end of the calendar year.
Led by visual and public arts staff from the Oklahoma Arts Council, teams reinstall the works floor by floor, starting with the fifth floor and progressing one floor at a time. Historical events, natural resources, and notable people of Oklahoma are depicted in the works. Along with the return of must-haves such as Wilson Hurley’s “Centennial Suite” and Charles Banks Wilson’s portraits of Robert S. Kerr, Sequoyah, Will Rogers and Jim Thorpe, nearly 20 new works have been commissioned for the Capitol. Most of the new works were made possible by the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Act, which requires the state to invest 1.5% of eligible capital improvement project budgets in public art. The Oklahoma Arts Council administers the state’s public art commissions.
As the artwork is returned, a new space for the Betty Price Gallery, which houses the Oklahoma State Art Collection, will open on the second floor. Another new space, the Hall of Heroes, commemorating Oklahoma’s distinguished military service history, will open on the second floor near the Supreme Court Chamber.
Oklahoma Arts Council executive director Amber Sharples called the new artwork the crowning achievement of the Capitol’s restoration.
“Since the artwork was removed from the Capitol, people have been asking about its return,” Sharples said. “The Capitol is the largest public museum in the state, and now, beautifully restored and prepared to house a growing number of works of art, it has even more potential as a space to educate Oklahomans about the history and creativity of our people and attract visitors from around the world. the world. Restoration of the Capitol was an opportunity for our team to consider how to provide visitors with the best possible experience, and now, after years of planning, we are already seeing people stopping to view, examine and enjoy. the works they lacked. We look forward to the full work schedule posted in the coming months. »
The new work of art and the visitor experience
In its planning, the Oklahoma Arts Council prioritized the visitor experience, arranging artwork throughout the building in chronological and thematic progression. As visitors enter the building through the main entrance on the ground floor, they are greeted by a video produced by Buffalo Nickel Creative with assistance from Sterlin Harjo, co-creator and executive producer of the hit FX series on Hulu “Reservation Dogs”. The greeting will incorporate the native languages of the state’s 39 tribal nations. Artwork on the ground floor will reflect Oklahoma’s pre-state and Native American history. A main floor centerpiece will be a Yatika Starr Fields mural depicting the Spiro Mounds as a center of commerce in pre-contact Oklahoma. As visitors ascend the floors, they will engage with an increasing mix of strategically arranged topics and themes. Themes of modern commerce and economic development in Oklahoma bring the visitor experience full circle on the fifth floor.
The themes and novelties per floor are:
Themes: pre-state and Native American history; First State and Western Heritage; State motto
• Ceramic wall installation by Anita Fields (Osage Nation); 42″ x 74″
• Ceiling installation “People of the High Sky, Constellations of the Earth” by Dr. Jessica Harjo (Otoe-Missouria/Osage Nation/Pawnee/Sac & Fox); 75′ x 24′
• “Kadohadacho”, traditional Caddo tripod of Chase Kahwinhut Earles (Caddo Nation); 24″x24″
• “Oklahoma Dawn” mural by Yatika Starr Fields (Osage Nation/Muscogee Nation/Cherokee Nation); 5′ x 12′
• Bronze bust of “Chief Allen Wright” by LaQuincey Reed; full-scale
• Buffalo Nickel’s “Indianenous Greetings” video co-produced by Sterlin Harjo; 10 minutes
• “Labor Omnia Vincit”, a suite of four Oklahoma State Motto murals by Lucas Simmons; 8.5′ x 10.5′ each
• “Oklahoma Boots” by Lisa Sorrell; men’s size 10
Theme: African American History of Oklahoma
• “Black Wall Street” mural by TBA; 7′ x 16′
• “Katz Drug Store Sit-In” mural by TBA; 7′ x 16′
• Bronze “Clara Luper” by
LaQuincey Reed; full-scale
• Bronze “Hannah Atkins” by LaQuincey Reed; full-scale
Themes: Hall of Heroes; Hall of Governors; Cultural Treasures of Oklahoma; The natural beauty of Oklahoma; Betty Price Gallery/State Art Collection
• “Anumpa Luma Anumpuli” Choctaw Code Talkers from WWI painting by Dylan Cavin (Choctaw Nation); 36″ x 48″
• “Doc Tate Nevaquaya” portrait by Nocona Burgess (Comanche Nation); 48″ x 30″
• “Making Her Mark” wall-mounted bezel by Sara Scribner; 9′ x 22′
• “Governor J. Kevin Stitt” bronze bust by John Rule; full-scale
• “Wanda Jackson” portrait by Tracey Harris; 48″ x 36″
Theme: Oklahoma Luminaires
Theme: Celebrating Oklahoma’s Legacy
Theme: Roots of Oklahoma’s Trade and Economic Development
• Portrait of “Chief Wilma Mankiller” by Starr Hardridge (Muscogee Nation); 36″ x 30″
To develop the relocation plan, the Oklahoma Arts Council conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Capitol’s artwork, held community listening sessions throughout the state, and met with key stakeholders of the Capitol’s facilities and legislative leaders. The collaboration with the Senate and the Chamber made it possible to present works from their collections. The plan reflects a visitor-centered, education-focused approach providing the greatest degree of breadth and depth to illustrate Oklahoma’s history.
Where was the art?
Most of the works of art have been stored in temperature-controlled storage in a secure location offsite to protect them during the Capitol’s restoration project. Several major works of art remain in public areas of the Capitol, including the four murals by Charles Banks Wilson under the dome on the fifth floor depicting Oklahoma’s history from 1541 to 1906, and “Pro Patria” by Thomas Gilbert White, which commemorates tragedies and triumphs. of the First World War. Works that were not removed from the Capitol were covered to protect them from the harsh construction environment.
Rotating exhibitions to come back
In addition to permanent artwork installed throughout the Capitol, the three galleries — the North, East, and Governor’s Galleries which are used to feature rotating exhibitions of works by Oklahoma artists — will reopen in the fall. 2022. With the reopening of galleries, the Oklahoma Arts Council will be able to exhibit additional media, including 3D works and textile art. Oklahoma artists can submit their portfolios to arts.ok.gov for display in the Capitol’s galleries.
New educational experience to offer
Parents, teachers, students and others will enjoy a growing list of educational resources related to Capitoline art. In addition to relaunching a statewide school scholarship program to help students learn about Oklahoma art and history through the Capitol’s collections, the Oklahoma Arts Council expand its online program, seek opportunities for a formal docent program, present artist talks and design other educational activities.