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KEY Oklahoma City

CHICKASAW ARTIST MIKE LARSEN OKLAHOMAN OF THE YEAR

Esteemed Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen was named the 2006 Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Today magazine. Larsen, who lives and works in Perkins, is the fifteenth Oklahoman of the Year since 1992.

The year 2006 has been a landmark one for the sixty-two-year-old artist. In September, one of his paintings was selected to adorn the USPS Oklahoma Centennial thirty-nine-cent postage stamp. Also in September, he completed twenty-four portraits of Chickasaw elders, which will be displayed at the Chickasaw Cultural Center near Sulphur in fall 2007. During September and October, Larsen worked on two larger-than-life Centennial sculptures for the Oklahoma City Civic Center. In spring 2006, he also was named the Red Earth Honored One.

Researching the history of the people he paints and sculpts, Mike Larsen spends much of his studio time in books. Accuracy in regalia and dress tell much about his subjects. For more than forty years, he has worked as a full-time artist. Born in 1944 of Chickasaw heritage, Larsen grew up in farming communities in Oklahoma and Texas. Beginning at Amarillo Junior College, continuing at the University of Houston, and concluding at the prestigious Arts Student League in New York City, Larsen studied traditional art disciplines.

Larsen’s love for painting and sculpting dancing figures began when he was commissioned by the State of Oklahoma to paint a twenty-six-foot-long mural for the Capitol Rotunda of five internationally prominent ballet dancers, all born in the state. He has been honored to paint eight murals—four about teaching the arts and four about local Native American History—for the Oklahoma Art Institute and six murals for the University of Oklahoma Reynolds Performing Art Center and School of Dance.

The annual award is given to an Oklahoman or group of Oklahomans who have achieved excellence in their field of work during the previous year. Over the years, recipients have included Garth Brooks, Dennis Byrd, Larry Jones, the Oklahoma City Fire Department, Shannon Miller and Shannon Lucid, Hanson, David Boren, the University of Oklahoma football team, Joe Allbaugh, the makers of the Capitol Dome, Toby Keith, Fern Holland, and Carrie Underwood. In 1999, Will Rogers was selected as the Oklahoman of the Century.

The January/February 2007 edition of Oklahoma Today is available at newstands statewide newsstands. Oklahoma Today, a part of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, is the official magazine of Oklahoma. To subscribe, call Oklahoma Today at (800) 777-1793 or visit the magazine online at oklahomatoday.com.





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