OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Feathers and wide brim hats, We’re familiar with the image of the American Cowboy and the American Indian.
Their symbols have been widely traded around as enemies, oppressors, victims, and trespassers.
Both are often portrayed as stoic, connected to the land, but too often pitted against each other.
Then on this evening the work of two Oklahoma artists and friends brought cowboys and Indians together in a unique way.
Harold Holden and Mike Larsen, who both celebrate long, successful careers, thought a collaboration was a good idea.
“I thought it was great,” says Larsen. “We love this place.”
We first met Holden in 1994 as he sculpted a Native American statue he called ‘Keeper of the Plains’.
He and Larsen, who we visited in 2006, have painted or sculpted both cowboys and Indians in their own right.
But Holden is the son of a horse breeder, Larsen a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Their work largely reflects where they come from.
Both are members of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
The museum and gallery have a mission to showcase Oklahoma artists.
Holden and Larsen’s styles made for an interesting pairing in a small setting.
“I thought it was unique,” says Holden. “I think good artists like to hang together.”
“Not that you lose anything in a big room,” says Larsen, “but you don’t get the same kind of intimacy as with this show right here.”
Neither man is trying to answer any big questions or settle long simmering cultural debates that might still exist between these icons of the Old West.
As longtime friends both artists find it easy to share the space.
The landscape of their imaginations is far too large to fight over.
The exhibit ‘Cowboys and Indians’ will be on display at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Gaylord Pickens Museum until August 26, 2017.
For more information go to www.oklahomahof.com
Great State is sponsored by the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gaylord, Pickens Museum