Great State: Local Rock Quarry Drew One Oklahoma Sculptor to Apache, OK

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APACHE, OKLAHOMA -- He likes a wind off the prairie and not just because of the way it billows a dancer's shawl.

As Bob Creeping Bear works on a sculpture, he explains, "Right now I'm just trying to get the movement where she's turning."

Bob Creeping Bear prefers winter too, and not just because it makes for cooler work.

"Machines don't heat up as fast and the stone is cooler too," he says.

Creeping Bear is an Arapaho name inherited from his father.

He is an Absentee Shawnee literally, having lived for years now in Apache, Oklahoma.

"I like this area," he says.

He works with limestone and marble from all over the world, but only at a quarry near here can he find the alabaster he really likes.

"Yeah," he agrees. "There's a quarry just down the road. That's the reason I moved to Apache."

"You've got quite a few pieces out in the yard to keep you busy," remarks a visitor.

"That's the one thing about stone," chuckles Creeping Bear. "There's no end to it. It's all over the place."

Bob great up at Indian schools all over the state, from Goodland to Chilocco.

He learned to paint for art and weld for money.

Working in an auto body shop got him thinking about sculpture, and so for more than thirty years now that's what he's done, pitting himself against the stone to see what comes out the other side.

"Accept the challenge of doing it," he says. "Instead of just wondering about it. If you don't try you'll always wonder."

Bob can't work like he used to.

But this time of year the stone speaks loudest.

His answer always comes through a type of revelation.

The native spirits of Oklahoma, locked away in rock, break free with the help of a patient Creeping Bear.

"Each stone is different," he says. "It has it's own grain and stuff like that."

Bob used to show his work at galleries all over the Southwest. He only uses one now and it's close to home, the Red Door Gallery in Medicine Park.

For more information on Creeping Bear or the gallery go to their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Door-Gallery/1435327826686388

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