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Remembering the Artist Charles Banks Wilson (1918-2013) on StudioTulsa

Today on ST, a special interview from our archives as we listen back to a 1993 discussion with Charles Banks Wilson. The widely beloved artist died last week at 94. Wilson was born in Arkansas and grew up in Miami, Oklahoma; over the course of his long and prolific career, he worked as a painter, printmaker, art teacher, lecturer, historian, and magazine and book illustrator --- and his works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Gallery, the Oklahoma State Capitol, the Smithsonian, and other notable institutions. Wilson is probably best known for his series of life-size portraits at our state's Capitol building --- those familiar if not iconic images of Will Rogers, Sequoyah, Carl Albert, and Senator Robert Kerr --- and for his four sweeping murals, also at the Capitol, depicting key moments or movements in Oklahoma's history. On this edition of our show, Wilson talks about all of these signature works, but he speaks mainly about a portrait-making project that he worked at for several decades, namely the rendering of "purebloods" --- as in, Native American Indians of a single tribal heritage. (There was an exhibit showing several of Wilson's pureblood portraits at the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa when this discussion originally occurred.) It's wonderful to hear the late Mr. Wilson --- always charming, candid, and witty in conversation --- speaking with both intelligence and fondness about Indian culture, Oklahoma history, and artistic creation.

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