Governor Brad Henry has issued a resolution to proclaim Wednesday to be “Charles Banks Wilson Day” at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Henry signed a proclamation to recognize the ability of the Miami native and to thank him for his artistry that now hangs in the Capitol.
Born in 1918 in Arkansas, Wilson and his family eventually moved to Miami, where he spent his childhood.
Wilson later established the Art Department at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and chaired the department for 15 years, according to NEO marketing director Christen Stark.
Additionally, the Charles Banks Wilson Scholarship has funded the education of 20 young artists who have wanted to study on the NEO campus over the past 15 years.
To honor Wilson and Wilson's contributions to the college, the NEO Development Foundation plans to construct a Charles Banks Wilson Art Gallery on the local college campus as a way to eternalize his contributions to the college.
The 15,000-square-foot space would include a student gallery, classrooms, studio space, computer-graphic design studio and faculty offices. Through grants, contributions from private foundations and individual donations, the NEO Foundation has set a $6 million goal to fund the project.
Edie Ingram, executive director for the Development Foundation, said this is a dream she hopes to see into fruition for both the college and Wilson.
“This campus means as much to Charles Banks Wilson as he means to us,” Ingram said. “The Charles Banks Wilson Art Gallery will allow him to continue to inspire students on our campus just as he has for the past decades. That is his primary goal through this project - to aid those local students who have the same love for art that he possesses.”
Members of the Development Foundation Board of Directors will travel throughout the state this year to request donations for the project.
State Rep. Larry Glenn, who resides in Miami, said Wilson's work should be treasured for its depiction of the Native American heritage for which Oklahoma is famed.
“Charles Banks Wilson and Oklahoma history go hand in hand,” Glenn said. “Not only did he teach at NEO, but most of his major works were done right within the city of Miami.”
Glenn said he is in full support of securing funding for the Charles Banks Wilson Art Gallery so that NEO can preserve this vital piece of its history.
Wilson became a student of the arts in 1936, when he enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago to study painting, watercolor and lithography, according to the resolution from Governor Henry's office. Following an apprenticeship as an illustrator at the Chicago Tribune, Wilson contributed to a folio for the American Art Association.
Many of Wilson's works hang in the Oklahoma State Capitol and include life-size portraits of Will Rogers, Sequoyah, Carl Albert and Senator Robert Kerr. Four other murals depicting Oklahoma history also hang under the Capitol dome, according to the resolution.
“Charles Banks Wilson's magnificent works in our state Capitol Rotunda are a source of great pride to Oklahomans and are a memorable experience for visitors from around the globe,” said Betty Price, executive director for the Oklahoma Arts Council. “He is most deserving of recognition on Charles Banks Wilson day for a legacy that will live on for future generations.”
Wilson is a Fellow of the International Institution of Arts and Letters, a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Arts Council. He has also been awarded the Oklahoma Governor's Art Award and was the focus of the documentary ‘Portrait of an American Artist.'
At 1:35 p.m. on Wednesday, Charles Banks Wilson will be confirmed by the House of Representatives at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Confirmation by the Senate will follow at 2:15 p.m.
Dr. Glenn Mayle, NEO president, Clay Roblyer, Foundation president, and Ingram will be present at both confirmation events.