An Oklahoma portrait artist asks an important question. What will you ‘work for’?

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- The city walks or drives past every day.

From his temporary office in the Skirvin Hotel Mike Wimmer sees all kinds of people.

Some stop and look.

Others hurry past like clouds on a windy day.

"That's the part," he says. "I'm getting to meet all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and find out what it is they're doing and why they do it. What's they're inspiration for doing it."

He's the current Artist in Residence at the hotel which gives him the opportunity to pursue something he spent a whole year thinking about.

If you were a panhandler on the street, and you wanted to let passers-by know what you cared most about with a simple sign, what would that sign say?

"Wimmer states, "It's almost like a mission statement on a cardboard sign."

He's only finished a handful of portraits so far.

Some you may recognize.

Others just wandered in.

"There are some people you know you'd like to do," says Wimmer. "You ask and you're lucky if they say yes. Other people just walk in off the street having no idea what's going on other than they see this guy painting a picture."

Through conversations and questions the signs they hold take shape.

April is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

Mike is working on a portrait of Mark Godwin, a former accountant who suffers with an early onset of the disease.

His sign has nothing to do with his former job.

Wimmer insists, "This is all about them. This is their story, their passion, their duty, whatever it is they want to do."

So what would Mike Wimmer's sign say?

He's had a chance to think about that one.

"Mine is going to say, 'I will work to paint the truth'."

After a little while of back and forth Mike gets an answer from me too.

"What would it be," he asks?

"Will work to tell your story," I respond.

The city outside crowds with potential portraits some of whom wouldn't know right away what they work for.

In the fleeting light of a busy life he's trying to answer that very important question with a brush of paint on canvas, bringing truth to that light before it hurries on past.

Mike Wimmer is an accomplished commercial and portrait artist who also teaches his craft at Oklahoma City University.

To see more of his work go to

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