CONCHO, OKLAHOMA — He felt the spirit of this place right away.
“When you walk in here you can feel that energy, that there is a history here,” says artist Steven Grounds.
He walked the abandoned halls of the old Concho Indian School.
Grounds saw the crude tags but felt something else in the spirit of this place, something he had to start painting himself.
His first mural was an exploration of his own style writ large.
“I started to progress and get more comfortable with scale,” says Steven looking at his first mural.
That was more than 2 years ago.
With unprecedented permission from the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe Steven began filling both the interior and exterior walls with huge murals, portraits of his heroes, and even the ghosts of students who once walked these halls.
Grounds says, “It was just the right place at the right time, and it all came together.”
He takes on the style of a street painter. The artist works quickly with bold strokes. His drum beat is rock and roll.
His heritage is a kind of gourd dance punctuated by the rattle of a spray can.
Within minutes, what looked like simple lines on the wall become the figure he sees, a reflection of the quiet spirit he feels here.
Of his murals, Steven says, “I take them as a way to show reverence. So what I paint in here comes from a place of respect.”
Steven Grounds isn’t Michelangelo. This is certainly no Sistine Chapel, but there are parallels.
Both artists walked into a space and saw possibilities no one else could have imagined.
Bringing them both to reality has taken years.
But Steven, at least, is still painting.
His church has lots of space left on which to create.