Great State: State’s First Artists Collected for the First Time at the Oklahoma Heritage Museum

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- You won't see their likenesses here, but you will see their pictures.

From the earliest drawings on ledger paper by Kiowa prisoners of war to Harper's Weekly sketches of Land Rund Day, 1889, this was Oklahoma's art and art in Oklahoma at its earliest.

"This is early, early Oklahoma," remarks an exhibit visitor.

"Yes," says curator Marissa Raglin referring to a series of old maps of the territory. "This is 1890, 1891, and 1892."

Raglin has charge of 33 original artworks from original Oklahoma artists. They include the earliest and most influential who make up this exhibit at the Gaylord-Pickens Heritage Museum.

"The First Fifty Years of Oklahoma Art is all about pioneering artists," she says. "and the influence they had on today's art community."

Almost all of them represent firsts of some kind.

Eugene Jesse Brown established the art department at Langston University.

Nan Sheets helped found the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Most of the artists featured in this exhibit were born somewhere else.

Oscar Jacobsen was born in Sweden, but as teacher and artist himself he argued successfully for Native American art to be fully considered as fine art.

His former students at OU, Acee Blue Eagle and Woodrow Wilson Big Bow have a place here too.

Raglin says, "A lot of these artists influenced one another. They went on to be influential in art education throughout the state."

A century ago Oklahoma was a blank canvas.

Artists like Augusta Metcalfe and Friar Gerrer gave it shape in our imaginations.

They didn't just give us something to look at.

They put meaning to what we saw.

The show is titled 'The First Fifty Years of Oklahoma Art'.

The exhibit will be up through April 26th.

The museum has also scheduled a series of lectures to accompany the art.

The first one is scheduled for February 26th.

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