Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive November 2016 Show 1646 Charles Ford - Framing Oklahoma’s History

Charles Ford - Framing Oklahoma’s History

Former state Sen. Charles Ford has led the way in framing the history of the Oklahoma Capitol.
Charles Ford - Framing Oklahoma’s History

Charles Ford - Framing Oklahoma’s History

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Framing History Exhibit - OSU Museum of Art

OSU Museum of Art

Show Details

Show 1646: Charles Ford - Framing Oklahoma’s History
Air Date: November 13, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, with all the construction going on at the state Capitol, much of the artwork that now hangs inside needs to be protected. All together 68 different paintings will be moved into storage as work progresses, with many of these historic pieces owing their very existence to one man, retired state Sen. Charles Ford.

Rob McClendon: If a picture is worth a thousand words, for years Oklahoma’s state Capitol didn’t say much.

Charles Ford: Our best artwork was some $25 prints and some $85 frames.

Rob: And for longtime lawmaker and art lover Charles Ford, that was unacceptable.

Ford: So I decided to just go out and get a, hire an artist to do something historical about Tulsa, which was the, Washington Irving when he came through Tulsa in 1832 and he visited with the Osage.

Rob: And with that donation began an effort to make the Oklahoma state Capitol not just the seat of government, but a source of state pride.

Ford: Once I did this, a number of senators had come to me and said, you know, I’d like to do something that’s historical about my community. And I said fine, all we need is money, and then I’ll find an artist.

Rob: And so began an effort to frame Oklahoma’s diverse history, mixing historical portraits with picturesque landscapes from across the state, each representing a place or a time pivotal in Oklahoma history.

Ford: If we all can remember this is Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher who broke the color code at the law school at OU. This is Thurgood Marshall, he was from Tulsa – a Tulsa lawyer. And Mike Wimmer, he does such wonderful things. How’d you like to have to paint the fabric of that coat?

Rob: Oh, it’s so realistic.

Ford: How about this fabric here? You know, that’s, he just --

Rob: Wonderful artist.

Ford: He is just so talented.

Rob: And today, the Senate art collection has grown to 198 works worth in the millions of dollars, each unique for not just their artistry but their subject matter.

Ford: Every time we do a painting, we do a lot of research before we ever get started. We try to do the costumes, any gun or firearm, if there was a big wagon or saddle or whatever.

Rob: Accurate portrayals that often include some familiar faces when the historical details are lacking.

Ford: Since about the Osage treaty of 1825 that moved the Osage back into Kansas and allowed the Cherokee and the Creeks to move into Oklahoma.

Rob: Yeah, certainly some historical significance here, but also some personal significance too.

Ford: Well, it’s got my picture into it as one of the models, and I haven’t aged in 175 years.

Rob: You’re looking pretty spry there, you are.

[piano music].

Rob: An artistic tribute to a long-time Oklahoma lawmaker and his campaign to make the halls and galleries of the state Capitol a glimpse into Oklahoma’s heritage.

[piano music].

Rob McClendon: Now, I was able to visit with the senator at a traveling exhibit of the Capitol Art Collection at the OSU Museum of Art, but once the arts council ran the numbers on keeping these paintings on loan to local museums during the Capitol restoration, it proved to be logistically and financially unfeasible. So if you would like to see the entire Capitol collection you may want to head to 23rd and Lincoln sooner than later.