MIAMI, Okla. —
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the historic Coleman Theatre are completing plans to honor the life and accomplishments of late artist Charles Banks Wilson next weekend.
NEO officials will dedicate the Charles Banks Wilson Art and Cultural Education Center from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, in Kah-Ne-You-Ah Hall. The dedication will feature an exhibit of Wilson’s original artwork.
“Charles Banks Wilson’s legacy will live on through the Art and Cultural Education Center named in his honor,” said Jennifer Hessee, executive director of the NEO Foundation. “He influenced many students while an instructor at NEO, and his artistic contributions are unmatched. The center features a gallery to permanently showcase his work and provide access for our students and community to enjoy art exhibits from around the country.”
The dedication also will include a panel discussion about the artist, his life and his artwork. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, will moderate. The panelists include Amber Sharples, executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council; Larry Foley, a journalism professor from the University of Arkansas; and Ted Watts, an artist and former student of Wilson’s at NEO.
The Coleman Theatre has scheduled two nights of events in the artist’s honor. Wilson launched his art career there as a teenager, painting posters during the late 1920s and early 1930s, according to Barbara Smith, the theater’s executive director.
On Friday, Aug. 9, the theater will screen Foley’s “Charles Banks Wilson: Portrait of an American Artist” and NBC’s “Names We Never Knew,” according to Springfield firm Wannenmacher Advertising Co. Foley will be the host for the event, and there will be live entertainment between the documentaries, the advertising firm said.
Saturday, Aug. 10, will feature a “fabulous kind of variety show, which is made up of acts that Charles Banks Wilson loved in his lifetime,” Smith said. She said the show will include performances such as rope tricks, singing and ballet. The host will be Michael Wallis, a Route 66 historian and the voice of Sheriff in Disney-Pixar’s “Cars.”
Wannenmacher said scheduled performers include Helen Russell, an original cast member of the “Woody Sez” play; fiddler Kyle Dillingham; the Big Shiny Brass Quintet, a group of jazz and classical musicians; Maggie Boyett, a dancer from the Shawnee and Kiowa tribes; singer-songwriter Linda Allen; trick-roper Kowboy Kal; and Miami native Susan Wright Mogilka, a piano and voice professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.
The events begin at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $10 for Friday and $15 for Saturday, or $20 for both nights. For more information, people may call 918-540-2425.
Wilson, who died in May at age 94, is known for his portraits of Oklahoma figures. Those include Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, folk singer Woody Guthrie and humorist Will Rogers — a painting that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
He also is known for his paintings and drawings of Native Americans, including a portrait of Sequoyah at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Wilson taught drawing at NEO during the 1940s and ’50s. He established the art department there, directing it for 15 years.
Charles Banks Wilson
THE ARTIST would have celebrated his 95th birthday on Aug. 6.