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Great State: 40 Years of Christmas Greetings

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SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA -- A table full of Christmas cards never looked like they do at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee.

Delaynna Trim never received one of them in her mailbox, but ,at this small art museum, she's one of the first to see every Christmas card artist Derald Swineford ever printed.

"I know they don't look like a typical Christmas card," she says while holding one, "these are the ones he sent out to friends and family."

Swineford was an Oklahoma born artist who taught at USAO in Chickasha for years.

Starting in 1940, he began sending out art prints as season's greetings.

Says Trim, "From 1940 to 1983, only missing a few years when he was serving in World War II in Africa."

Swinefored was a funny sort of artist.

He hardly ever sold any of his work, preferring instead to give it away.

Trim says, "He told people he enjoyed doing the art and that was all he needed."

He worked hard on his holiday prints, sketching several versions before etching the final image onto linoleum.

"All of them actually took quite a bit of time," says Delaynna.

The result proved worth his efforts every year.

Swineford mixed his Oklahoma upbringing with his religious faith.

Cowboys were wise men.

Christmas was always set in the West.

Even Native American dancers followed a bright star.

Curator Trim says, "It's really fun to see the pieces that combine religious nativity with that western sensibility."

Delaynna Trim called the Swineford family and brought together the whole series of cards plus a few of the original places and sketches.

They reveal a man who loved where he lived and who loved this season enough to make Christmas presents out of everything he did.

The Derald Swineford Christmas card exhibit went up December 17 and will remain on display through the first week of January, 2014.