Great State: Celebration for an Oklahoma Treasure

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MIAMI, OKLAHOMA -- Climbing the steep stairs to her father's old art studio, Carrie Wilson begins to see all there is to do in cataloguing, organizing, and arranging the life of Charles Banks Wilson.

"Yeah," she agrees walking by dusty shelves and old projects. "It's an old studio that needs a lot of work right now."

On one shelf rests old paints, there are old prints piled on a desktop and a large collection of classical records the artists listened to while working.

About the location of this 2nd floor suite, Carrie relates, "It's like he always said. He had the cat bird seat. Everybody in Miami was fair game for Charles Banks Wilson."

Outside a window overlooking Main Street, which is also Route 66, Charles beginnings as an artist are on full display.

Wilson and Coleman together.

The Coleman Theater in all its restored glory sits across the street.

Charles Wilson's father performed in the pit orchestra there.

As a teenager, Charles himself sketched Will Rogers backstage.

Carrie explains, "What he would do is paint the marquees. They were very expensive so he got so he could paint Gary Cooper and all of them."

There may be no other building and no other artist so inextricably linked.

As Carrie Wilson mourned her father, she thought his funeral, while fitting, didn't tell the complete story.

So she began organizing a celebration of his life to take place on the Coleman Theater stage.

"I think it had to be here," she says. "It absolutely had to."

In the mid-Seventies Charles Banks Wilson used the old Masonic Hall to work on his murals depicting Oklahoma history.

The Masonic Hall is now the Coleman ballroom.

His picture hangs in bronze on the outside wall of the Coleman as well.

The old studio casts a long shadow on certain afternoons.

For one weekend, Wilson's life will once again fill the Coleman with its light.

A Celebration of an Oklahoma Treasure will take place on the evenings of August 9th and 10th.

The first night will show two documentaries about his life.

The second night will feature performances dedicated to his memory.

For a full lineup of events and ticket information go to

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