BETHANY, Okla. (KFOR) – He walks a fine line through the streets of town, but it doesn’t matter which direction Bob Palmer takes from his house.
Eventually, he’s going to see some of his work.
“I call this ‘home sweet home,'” he says. “That’s where I live.”
It’s hard to miss, really.
As a mural painter more than three decades into a busy career, his depictions of history and of Oklahoma live are writ larger than life, taking in subjects like Bethany’s centennial, to an Old West ambush, to business advertisements, and a famous highway that often connected them.
“I could paint that in my sleep,” he says of a large Route 66 logo on the side of one building.
“They just kept getting bigger, and taller, and scarier,” he says with a smile.
As a kid from Walters, Okla., then an art teacher, then a full professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, all Bob ever really wanted to do was make a living as an artist.
“I’ve got murals all over the world,” he says.
Palmer always did like big canvases.
The more he painted, the bigger he painted and the more people noticed.
He says, “I’ve never advertised. The murals advertise for me.”
His students always provided a lot of help.
Their names went on every wall next to Palmer’s, too many to bother counting precisely.
“When I retired about five years ago, that’s when I stopped counting,” he says.
When pressed, he puts his number of completed murals at between 3,000 and 4,000.
Most of them are in Oklahoma somewhere, free for the viewing, a big, visual history lesson.
“Every town has a story,” he says.
His portfolio would never fit inside one gallery or file folder, but a lot of it found its way to the pages of a new book.
‘Painting Oklahoma and Beyond’ tells a few of the stories behind some of his murals.
The ‘godfather’ of Oklahoma murals, as one of his students dubbed him, as told and illustrated by the artist himself.
Palmer’s book is available for sale at the Home on the Range gallery in Guthrie and at Stephanie’s Vintique in Bethany.
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