Children’s Author Dianna Hutts Aston, author of “An Egg is Quiet” and “A Rock is Lively” shares about the moments that have inspired her

By Roseanne McKee with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston has a tattoo on her left wrist of a heart with wings and above it the words “epiphania” — what her friends in Mexico call her.

Aston earned that nickname because her writing is inspired by epiphanies she has “for things we all know or things that are hidden in plain sight,” she said.

For example, one of her books is “An Egg is Quiet.” This phrase was first spoken by a 3 year old, Dusty Dunn, who was asked one day in Montessori School to tell the class something about an egg.
“An egg is quiet,” was his reply.

Aston’s mother, Candy Shelts, was amused by the boy’s keen observation and relayed the incident to Aston.

One day Aston was picking up eggshells while holding her daughter Lizzie and the memory came back to her and the book “An Egg is Quiet” was the result.

“So, it is because of my mom that these books are going all over the world … to restore the earth,” Aston said. “I can’t take the credit. I’m just the hand.”

One of her favorite literary awards was given by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Award for her book “An Egg is Quiet.”

“This was my first breakout book on what they began to call lyrical science,” Aston said. “… I didn’t even know I was writing science books until AAAS called and said, ‘you won. Let’s do a podcast and come to San Francisco and get your award.’”

Some of her other titles are: “A Seed is Sleepy,” “A Butterfly is Patient,” “A Beetle is Shy,” “A Nest is Noisy” and “A Rock is Lively.”

A friend of hers came up with the description of a rock as “lively.”

The book is “about the evolution of rocks. It tells the whole story,” she said “That’s why a rock is lively — it starts out liquid.”

Among her 15 books, “Not So Tall for Six,” was the result of a conversation with a six-year-old about her height. In the book a girl is bullied but by following her family’s motto — takes the high road.

The favorite book she has authored is “Dream Something Big” about the story of Watts Towers about an Italian immigrant’s dream to ‘do something big.’ Simon Rodia, known as ‘Uncle Sam’ began with something tiny—a single chip of tile that he found on the street, which became the first building block to an astonishing feat of architecture and a national landmark in Watts, Calif. Aston describes him on her website as “a visionary, a pioneer in the art of recycling, reusing and repurposing found objects. He dug through trash piles for things people no longer wanted or overlooked: broken teapots and plates. Shattered bottles and mirrors. Rocks and shells. On the backs of ice cream parlor chairs he saw hearts. In water spigots he saw flowers.”

Rodia’s story is told from the perspective of a girl named Marguerite.

Aston said she hopes through her books she is able to improve the lives of young people, especially those who have disabilities or other life challenges, and teach them how to be good stewards of the earth. Aston began writing in 1996, and a few years later said a prayer to have a meaningful life.

“That’s when things started happening,” she said.

Aston sent a manuscript to a publisher with a no unsolicited manuscript policy and got published. That book was “When You Were Born” with illustrations by E.B. Lewis. The illustrations took longer since the artist the publisher chose, E.B. Lewis, was in high demand, and so another book, “Loony Little” was actually published first. “Loony Little” about the polar ice caps, will be re-released next year on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

“It’s completely updated with information on the back and activities,” Aston said.

Aston’s book, “The Moon Over Star” about the first manned mission to the moon, gained recognition when it was read to children, first by President Obama, and then by a NASA astronaut.

To learn more about Aston, visit her website

Osage artist creates façade for Crystal Bridges arts complex

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Osage artist Addie Roanhorse took inspiration for the design for the facade of the Crystal Bridges Museum’s new performing and visual arts complex from a finger-woven belt, which is part of Osage women’s regalia.

Roanhorse was the guest speaker at the first ArtNight of 2019 Tuesday at the Bartlesville Art Association Design Center, 500 S. Dewey Ave.

The complex, Roanhorse said, is located between the Crystal Bridges Museum and the town square in Bentonville, Ark.

“Closer to the town square is an old Kraft cheese plant. They’re keeping the structure … but they are completely gutting it,” she said. “I was asked if I could design a pattern to be etched on glass that would go on the façade of this building. … I’m honored to do it.”

She went to Bentonville, and the director said, “I just want to honor the people who were here pre-colonial. … It felt really good that they wanted to honor Osage people. That was our hunting territory way before any of this.”
She named the design “sway,” explaining her intention that the design would suggest movement and be based on the finger-woven belt worn in Osage women’s regalia.

The belt is fixed at the waist of Osage women’s regalia, and flows down the back.

“Women wear it, and when you dance, it starts swaying. When I was a little girl, I used to think that was the coolest thing. I’d be with my aunties, and we’d be dancing. … it’s just this moment and this feeling that, again, only Osages would truly understand,” Roanhorse explained.

In creating the design, Roanhorse used graphic art principles, simplified the design in the belt and created the suggestion of movement.

“The entryway of the design will actually go up and over in a very large scale. Then there’s the façade on this side, and it goes up five stories. So, it will have the design, really tiny, going all the way up. … At night they’ll shoot movies on it,” Roanhorse said. “When I went and saw it, it was amazing what they’ve done. I got to work with architects in Chicago. … It’s just been a great experience. … They plan on opening February 2020.”


Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

Roanhorse is a graphic designer and photographer for the Osage Nation.

Roanhorse delivers on gallery experience

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


Addie Roanhorse at Bartlesville Art Association’s ArtNight, February 2019.

A few months before the P.W. Mercantile opened, Osage artist Addie Roanhorse purchased a two-story, 105 year-old building in downtown Pawhuska with a business partner.

Roanhorse converted the first floor into event space called “Partake,” which she used to create a youth art event in 2018. The second floor is an Airbnb called “The Little Rainsong Loft.”

Roanhorse decided to use the space to have an exhibit featuring the work of children and on the second night an art auction of work by her artist friends to raise money for teachers.

Roanhorse delivered 100 12-by-12 canvases to the elementary and high school students and said, “get these back to me in the next four weeks, and we’re going to have a gallery showing with every one of you.

“We called it the gallery experience,” Roanhorse said.

Because so many wanted to participate in the elementary school, the teachers suggested having the students write paragraphs about why they would like to participate. She received 68 paragraphs from fourth- to sixth-graders.

On the second night they held the art auction. The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce director, who is also an auctioneer, auctioned the pieces. “It lasted 18 minutes, and we raised $1,875,” she said.

With the funds raised, Roanhorse gave Amazon gift cards to the 57 teachers at the public schools in the area.

“We don’t have art in our schools, and I think that’s a big reason why kids have anxiety. They have stresses in those paragraphs. I started crying when I read them. … you have football and then, you have basketball. But, what about the kids that don’t get that stress reliever out of that or are not very good at it. I know I was terrible. I think it’s important for our kids. Our society is producing very one-sided kids. We can’t send them out into the world and say ‘be successful’ with one-side of your brains.

“But, again, I grew up in this environment where I just, I don’t want to say I took it for granted, but I just didn’t realize. When I had a kid say, ‘well, where do you paint?’ At my studio. ‘Well, what’s a studio?’ ‘What’s this?’ ‘It’s a paint brush.’ ‘Well, where do you get this?’ They really didn’t know. So, just slowly kind of trying to spread the event where we can.

“We’re definitely doing the event again this year,” Roanhorse said with a smile.

Local Artist Camille Minjarez Anthony


By: Roseanne McKee


Award-winning artist Camille Minjarez Anthony, began painting as a way of dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD), but what began as a coping mechanism, has become much more.

“I’ve always grown up painting as long as I could remember. To keep me focused, my parents bought me art supplies,” Anthony said.

“I was originally painting on canvases. I actually started to be able to paint with better supplies in high school in eighth grade. Because of my art high school teacher at Wesleyan Christian School, Ragon Steele, I was able to start to learn to paint properly. He was really a blessing. Whenever I had free time I was in there. He was by far my favorite teacher. He made me a lot better.

“I struggled with school. There were issues. I always took extra art classes. I learned more about life in art class by far than any other.

“I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be a surgeon for military Veterans. My art teacher, who is an Army Veteran, encouraged me. He was the one telling me I could actually do it.

“Mr. Ragon would tell me about everything that happened to him. He told me what I would need physically and spiritually to do that job. He encouraged me to keep my grades up so that I could pursue this path.”

Although she has chosen to pursue the medical profession, Anthony continues to excel as an artist.

“Two of my oil pastels in contests and got first in First in State in oil pastel for a painting of my dog, a blue leopard cadahoula, named Sadie Blue.

“My other one was a picture inspired by a song about overcoming depression, ‘Jeremy,’ by Pearl Jam. It’s about a child being abused at home and being picked on at school. For an oil pastel drawing, I did a drawing of a child with his whole story and painted him with a crown. It’s a kid draped in the American flag wearing a flag and the words ‘King Jeremy.’ I attached the song that the painting was based on and the suicide note the teenager, Jeremy, left at the age of 16.”

During high school, Anthony, who is both Kickapoo and Apache, also began painting on natural surfaces in a style reflecting her Native American heritage.

“I’ve always been very fascinated with anything different and Mr. Steele suggested I try painting on skulls using oil pastels. I started painting skulls my senior year, so it’s been about three years that I’ve been doing it.”

Describing her art, she said, “I use darker colors, dark blues, purple and red. Every painting I do has red and purple in it somewhere.”

“A lot of my drawings have to do with what I’m feeling at the moment. I paint anything and everything on them. I just use the skull as a canvas.”

Anthony has a Facebook page called “A Beautiful Mind’s Creations,” where her art pieces are available for purchase.

Anthony is also a full-time student at Oklahoma State University, Tulsa campus, majoring in pre-med with an emphasis in psychology, who lives in Barnsdall and works part-time at the Osage Square Mall in Pawhuska.

Osage County Tourism Gains Momentum

Tourism Forum at Gilcrease Museum's Helmerich Research Center

Tourism Forum at Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Research Center

By: Roseanne McKee, Osage County Tourism Coordinator

The Osage County Tourism Forum was held from 10 – 2 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Research Center, where stakeholders, tourist venue representatives and tourism specialists gathered to share and learn.

There was a full house at the forum, which included lunch provided by the Osage Casinos.

It goes without saying that Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Mercantile Deli/Bakery/General Store, which opened Oct. 31, gave tourism a jumpstart in Osage County. P.W. Mercantile Events Coordinator Jourdan Foran, charged with planning special events at the Mercantile attended the forum.

Even before the opening of the Mercantile, thirty-three million impressions are made each year through Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept. (OTRD) marketing efforts, said Kimberly Noe-Lehenbauer, an Advertising Account Executive at OTRD.

“Tourism is an 8.6 billion dollar industry in Oklahoma. For every tax dollar spent by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept., there is a $7 return in tax revenue. You are impacting the state in a big, big way,” Noe-Lehenbauer said.

Susan McCalmont, President of Creative Oklahoma

Susan McCalmont, President of Creative Oklahoma

Susan McCalmont, President, Creative Oklahoma, spoke about developing creative ideas. To build tourism in the Osage a collaborative vision is needed with unselfish leadership. She commended the Pawhuska Merchant’s Association for its cooperative spirit, working on weekends to improve the business exteriors in downtown Pawhuska, develop imaginative ideas and test them!

“The best of these ideas survive,” McCalMont said. “Think big dreams, try them out and see what happens. Failure is part of the creative process.”

Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Mktg. Dir. of Sales, Kimberly Noe-Lehebauer, Advertising Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept., Trisha Kerkstra, POSTOAK Lodge Mgr. and Osage County Tourism Board  President, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., Osage Elder and OCTB member and Osage Industrial Authority Bd. member.

Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Mktg. Dir. of Sales, Kimberly Noe-Lehebauer, Advertising Oklahoma Travel and Recreation Dept., Trisha Kerkstra, POSTOAK Lodge Mgr. and Osage County Tourism Board President, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., Osage Elder and OCTB member and Osage Industrial Authority Bd. member.

Charlotte Ashworth, Green Country Marketing Association (GCMA) Director of Sales, described their 22 publications, each offering individual advertising or advertising in a cooperative arrangement, wherein several companies each contribute funds in order to have a presence collective presence in an ad.

Distribution Oklahoma is one of GCMA’s magazines being sent to Tour Bus Operators, Ashworth said. GCMA’s publications include a national magazine published quarterly, another featuring Wedding Ideas and the True West magazine. Ashworth said that staff at G.C. Mktg. can produce brochures, ads, maps, rack cards and banners. “Just tell me what you need and I’ll find it for you,” she said.

POSTOAK Lodge General Manager, Trisha Kerkstra, praised Green Country Marketing Association for helping to create trail maps for POSTOAK Lodge, describing their services as excellent and economical.

POSTOAK Lodge, which sits on 1,000 acres in the Osage hills, hosts retreats, conferences, weddings and reunions and special events such as their annual wine and jazz festival and a spring marathon for trail runners.

Kerkstra encouraged stakeholders to apply for grants. POSTOAK obtained a grant from the Oklahoma Wildlife Dept. to establish a monarch butterfly wait station – an enhancement to their nature trails sure to please lodge guests.

Kerkstra, who is also president of the Osage County Tourism Board, said that last year’s tourism budget, derived from the lodging tax, was about $42 ,000. Of that, one-third was used to pay staff, one-third was used for marketing and ads in publications and one-third went toward grants for Osage County events such as the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. The current tourism budget is about $72,000.

Kerkstra thanked the Osage County Tourism Coordinator, Roseanne McKee, for her work with the board to develop four tour plans, which have been sent to motor coach companies in the region. McKee also updates the tourism website,, with text and photos, and produces a quarterly newsletter, which is e-mailed to contacts, and is available on the website home page.

Social media updates for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are handled by Digital Generator, and the Visit the Osage Facebook page has over 10,000 followers.

Osage elder, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., who is retired from 34 years in management at Citgo, spoke to forum guests about the fact that tourism is an economic driver in Osage County, which increases the need for highspeed broadband internet infrastructure and housing to meet the needs of incoming businesses and residents.

Gilcrease Museum Executive Director, James Pepper Henry, described the Gilcrease Museum as “Tulsa’s most valuable asset.”

The Gilcrease has a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence and the only copies of the Articles of the Emancipation Proclamation, which became the basis for the U.S. Constitution. The Gilcrease Museum has one of the top five American art and colonial art collections in the U.S., the most Charles Russell art in the world and the second largest collection of Remington art in the U.S. The writings of Bob Dylan, who just won a Nobel Prize for writing, are also at the Gilcrease.

Only a fraction of the art collection is on display due to limited gallery space, Henry said. Soon, the museum will undergo renovation and expansion to expand gallery space and add needed amenities.

Dr. Joe Conner, owner of the Fairfax Chief Newspaper, spoke about tourism efforts in Fairfax including upcoming Saturday art markets at the Tallchief Theatre in downtown Fairfax where local artists will sell their work.

Executive Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc, Kaci Fouts, spoke about current exhibits, the wildlife preserve, and upcoming events at Woolaroc, including their Christmas Festival of Lights, which welcomed 13,000 visitors in 2016. Other events are the Mountain Man Camp, summer day camp for kids and the Cow thieves and Outlaws Reunion celebrating its ninetieth year in 2017.

L-R: Harvey Payne from Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Dr. Joe Conner owner of Fairfax Chief, James Pepper Henry, Exec. Director of Gilcrease Museum and Kaci Fouts, Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc

L-R: Harvey Payne from Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Dr. Joe Conner owner of Fairfax Chief, James Pepper Henry, Exec. Director of Gilcrease Museum and Kaci Fouts, Director of Strategic Planning at Woolaroc

No Osage County Tourism forum would be complete without mentioning the Osage landscape. Harvey Payne, Community Relations Coordinator and Preserve Director Emeritus of the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, spoke about the prairie, which was once “a utopia for bison, elk and deer.”

Describing its ecology, Payne said: “The prairie has to have fire or it will die. Without fire it was a spruce and blackjack tree forest. We do the burning which mimics the seasons…Ninety percent of what bison eat is grass. Called the great American desert by early explorers, when the steel plow was discovered it became endangered. Nowhere else was there a tallgrass prairie. It was coveted by settlers and farmers. The bread basket we have today probably came from the Tallgrass Prairie.

“The Nature Conservancy began purchasing the land in 1988. Then in 1993 bison were re-introduced to the Tallgrass Prairie with funded donations,” Payne said.

The preserve, free to the public, is privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, which does accept donations. Current Tallgrass Prairie Director is Robert G. Hamilton.

Bruce Carter, Tallgrass Art Gallery and Tallgrass Tours owner. Carter is also a member of the OC Indus. Auth. Bd. and OC Tourism Bd.

Bruce Carter, Tallgrass Art Gallery and Tallgrass Tours owner. Carter is also a member of the OC Indus. Auth. Bd. and OC Tourism Bd.

Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery in Pawhuska spoke about ways to market your business and build a service culture. He emphasized the use of social media for marketing your business. He described his new business bringing motor coach tours to the Osage and described taking a tour group to the Tallgrass Prairie for wine and hors d’oeuvres at sunset, and how this added experience resulted in happy tourists.

Osage Nation Museum Collections Manager Cali Martin spoke about the changes at the museum since the new curator Hallie Winter began in May 2016, and described an upcoming exhibit: Enduring Images, featuring photos of the Osage taken in the last century. A section of the gallery is also set aside for the work of today’s Osage artists. Another permanent exhibit called “Wahzhazhe Spirit” tells the Osage story.

Osage Nation Properties Manager, Bruce Cass, spoke about the nation’s support for tourism, and progress on an eco-park with community vegetable gardens, hydroponics and walking trails in Pawhuska.

American Plains Artists Signature Member Show Coming to Pawhuska


The American Plains Artists (APA) Signature Member Show will be hosted by Preserving Arts in the Osage at the Ole’ #1 Firehouse Art Center in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, March 24 – May 7.

The show will open with an Invitation Only Meet and Greet event, featuring Western entertainment and barbecue on Fri., March 24, from 6 – 8 p.m. 

To make reservations for this Meet and Greet event, e-mail Bruce at no later than Feb. 20.  

The public is invited to attend this celebration of “Art of the Plains” featuring realistic and representational artworks in traditional media that depict the American Great Plains region — its landscape, wildlife, people, and way of life in historical or modern times. 

Works of art in the show will be provided by nationally recognized, award-winning artists who hail from across the United States.  The approximately fifty-five pieces being exhibited and for sale at this event will be by the APA Signature members, who were elected to signature status status due in part to the continual high quality of their artwork.  

For more information about the APA and Preserving Arts in the Osage please visit: and  

The show is open to the public March 25-May 7, 2017.

Photo from APA website.

John D. Free Tribute Opens at Woolaroc Museum

By Roseanne McKee

On the evening of Oct. 14, at Woolaroc Museum outside Bartlesville, Okla., family and relatives of the Western sculptor and painter, the late John D. Free, gathered.
img_3770 The extended Free Family

Among those in attendance were sons of the artist: John, Mark and Matt Free, the artist’s sister, Delores Theis, her husband, Raymond Theis, and their son, Chris Theis.

His son, John Free spoke at the Tribute first.

“Dad was born in Pawhuska in Osage County. His grandmother was a full-blood Osage. He was very proud of that heritage and that part of his life.

“Probably the most important thing that happened to him was that he grew up on his grandfather’s ranch. That boyhood growing up on the ranch, of course he didn’t know at the time, would be the focus of his whole life from then on. He learned about horses and being a cowboy and about cows. He learned from his grandfather about being an old rancher was at that time. That was so special to him … and a tremendous influence and it shaped his art career probably in a way no one ever imagined.

“He was always drawing and modeling as a little boy. He was always drawing horses, and cow and cowboys; he said he did this for as long as he could remember.

“Early in his career he’d go to small shows in this area.”

Free shared that at these shows, his father encountered artists who encouraged him to believe that his career could grow.

“You’ve got to remember back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, he was making a living from the art business.

“The most important thing that happened at that time – he did a one-man show at the Gilcrease Museum and a man named Thomas Lewis approached him and asked if he would be in his gallery at Taos, New Mexico.

“Lewis was a great artist and a great gallery man and he took dad under his wing. He taught him about painting. And the most important thing he did was to give him clay and said see what you can do with this. Dad returned with one of the first sculptures that was cast into bronze. It was a cowboy, I think, roping a wolf. Thomas Lewis sold that piece and that was the beginning of a relationship between a gallery owner and an artist. And from then on dad’s career grew.

“He was in galleries in New York City, Carmel, California, all throughout the Southwest. He stayed busy doing things that he never dreamed that he could stay busy at and make a living.

“He was named a member of the National Academy of Western Art at the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Cowboy Artists of America, and also the Free West, which was the old Academy of Western Art. He was always proud that he was a member of these organizations.

“At this time, he was travelling a lot. The art business allowed him to do something else he was happy to do and that was to fly. He was able to buy a plane and fly to these places. That was something he’d always wanted to do and this allowed him to do that.

He was a pilot and his son, John Free flew with him and loved it too, he said. “He flew a 175 all across the United States,” John Free said.

“In 1980 he partnered with his brother-in-law, Ed Bivens, and they opened the Bronze Horse Art Gallery, which is still operating today [in Pawhuska]. Our family has worked for more than 100 artists and we produce thousands of sculptures that have gone all the way across the United States and around the world. He was always proud of that – that through these endeavors he was able to open a foundry and see a lot of artists’ careers start from that foundry and grow. We’ve been doing it for over 30 years. It’s hard to believe.

“Dad said he was always fortunate to make a living doing something he loved so much. And if he didn’t do it making a living, it would be his hobby.

“When asked about his favorite piece, he’d say, ‘the one that just sold and went out the door.’

“He said he looked forward to being able to continue to press his ideas, impressions and beliefs through the language of sculpting and painting in a simple and traditional manner.

“He always did a lot of research and he read a lot, which gave him ideas for pieces. And he also liked telling the stories to his grandkids about things he learned about.

“And probably last, but not least, the greatest influence in his art career was probably his wife, Rhema, without her, he probably would not have had a career. As an artist, taking care of business is not what you do. And mom was his partner, accountant, bookkeeper, scheduler, travel agent, the buffer between him and the rest of the world. And she did it very well.

“He’d have been very humbled by this tribute, and the people that appreciate his work, so on behalf of the family — thank you very much.”

Next, the artist’s nephew, Chris Theis, spoke at the Tribute.img_3739

“My uncle John, you may have known him as John D. Free, Western artist, but I just knew him as Uncle John and he was my hero and still is today. Uncle John was an influencer. When you around, when you look at these pieces and you look around at yourself and these pieces, you see influence. You see somebody that really was a time machine in a man because he takes you to a place you’ve never been before. He takes you to a place America was.

In his sculptures, “He had a gift from God to put action and motion within stillness.”

Chris Theis spoke of his uncle’s encouragement to be creative by giving him molding clay when he was a child. Although he did not take up sculpting, Theis found his place as the Creative Director for T.D. Jakes Ministries.

“It’s also generational because my son is a graphic artist [for Fox Sports] and a lot of what I do is directing other artists…The show I direct is called ‘The Potters Touch’ and currently we’re redesigning the graphics package,” Theis said. “I’m very glad to be a small part of his legacy and as I said, he’s always been my hero.”

During the reception, a friends of the artist, August and wife, Ginny Hague, shared that there would be a knock at his back door and John Free would open the screen door and hand Ginny Hague, a scroll and say ‘here’s something for you.’

“Ginny would just unroll it and it would be a pencil sketch. He gave us more than one, but this one was special because he wrote on it, ‘To a Special Friend,’” August Hague said.

August and Ginny Hague recalled a special week they had spent with the artist and other friends when a group of them brought their campers to Pine Bluff to do some work on a church together.

“We had a real good time. John and I built a cross and he even made the nails,” August Hague said.

Ginny Hague said she videotaped the raising of the cross and many tears were shed as the group sang ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’

“We came back home and we all said ‘we need to do that again,’ but we never did. It’s sad, but we never did,” August Hague said wistfully.

The John D. Free Tribute at Woolaroc Museum continues through Dec. 31. The exhibit, includes some sculptures for purchase.

Woolaroc Museum may be reached by phone at: 918-336-0307. Directions are part of the telephonic recording. Woolaroc’s winter hours are: Wed. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Woolaroc is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Visit their website at: to learn more!

Osage Ballet to hold Art Auction Feb. 27 in downtown Tulsa


Osage Ballet Press Release

With Interview by Journalist, Kathy Swan

With the resounding success of the Festival of Families performance for the Papal visit, the Osage Ballet has announced a fundraiser art auction to be held Feb 27 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa at 7 p.m., with proceeds going toward upcoming summer performances in Santa Fe and Bartlesville.

“As excited as we are about these performances,” said Ballet Director Randy Tinker Smith, “we realize it will be an expensive undertaking to travel with such a large cast, accompanying wardrobes, sets and music to these venues.”

A benefit art auction with donations from an array of talented artists, including many renowned American Indian artists, will take place at the historic Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 501 S. Cincinnati Ave. in downtown Tulsa. The art auction will feature original works of art, jewelry and clothing, including handmade, authentic Osage boots by artist Dell Bessie, Smith said.

According to Smith, some of the featured artists who have already committed to this event are Kilan Jacobs, Ken Foster, silversmith Bruce Carter, Burneta Venosdel and wildlife/nature artists Joni Johnson and Carolyn Mock.

Sponsorship, art and financial donations are still being accepted. Current sponsors, to date, for this event include the Osage Foundation, Charles Wickstrom, Michael and Bette Graves, and the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa.

For more information, visit, email: or call Randy Smith at 918-704-4668.

The artistry of Shaun Meri’ Jewelry Designs

By: Roseanne McKee

Oklahoma artist and jewelry maker Shaun Collier’s personal style is reflected in her jewelry. Both elegant and down-to-earth, Shaun Meri’ Jewelry pieces are the marriage of these two styles. The results are unique and versatile jewelry pieces that may be worn with both casual and formal attire.

Shaun Collier of Shaun Meri' Jewelry Design

Shaun Collier of Shaun Meri’ Jewelry Design

In her creations, Collier utilizes beads made of both natural and man-made materials purchased at regional bead markets in Tulsa and Dallas.
“My favorite things are probably pearls and turquoise. I love coral – it’s so much fun. I’m so drawn to the natural stones. There’s so much variety. It never gets old. There’s always something new – something different…sometimes I’ll just buy one [bead].”

Describing her designs, Collier said, “No two pieces are alike. That way you never see your jewelry on anyone else.”
Collier explained: “I don’t like to be symmetrical so much. I do sometimes because I know that’s what people like but, if the weight is good on both sides, I don’t.”

Over the years her style has changed a lot. She said she has learned to self-edit her designs so that the pieces are lighter in weight.

“I try to wear it and see if it’s comfortable. If it’s not comfortable I take it apart. Sometimes people will feel it and say, ‘it feels heavy;’ you just have to put it on because if the weight is even all the way around, it doesn’t pull,” Collier explained.

She showed me one of her favorite pieces, a turquoise necklace with shells. “Turquoise goes with everything,” Collier said.
Another favorite is a longer necklace made of waxed-linen thread, which is “fun to wear either by itself or you can double it up and wear it as two necklaces.”

In creating this piece, Collier explained, “it takes a lot of time because you have to knot each one.” The time it takes to create each knot increases the price.

“I was told, years ago, that most people who make jewelry charge $5 per knot. If that’s the case, they are very under priced because there are hundreds of knots in them. There is a lot of time in them.”

In pricing her work, Collier endeavors to balance cost of materials and time, so that they remain affordable.

One of her most expensive pieces was $450. When Collier created the piece, she said, “If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t matter to me because it was the most beautiful shade of green with a little bit of turquoise here and silver with a beautiful clasp. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if I still had that one,” she confided.

Another necklace featured freshwater pearls, and Collier said: “those freshwater pearls, I love them so much! They can go with jeans or you can dress them up.”
Collier became interested in jewelry design quite by accident. In 2008 or 2009, Collier accompanied her mother, artist Narda Caton, to Tulsa to visit a bead market. The beads she saw there were so beautiful that she began envisioning what she could create with them.

Soon, following in her mother’s footsteps, Collier also began making her own pieces.
About a year later, while filling in for her mother who was one of the vendors at Woolaroc Ranch and Museum’s Cow Thieves and Outlaws event, Collier offered her jewelry to the public for the first time.

“To my mother I said, ‘let me take your jewelry,’ and she said, ‘bring a few of your own too’, and so I did. Several of her pieces sold and several of mine sold and that kind of gave me the bug,” Collier explained.
Collier continues to offer her pieces at Woolaroc’s annual Cow Thieves and Outlaws event and select jewelry pieces are at Sweet P’s Gift Shop in Bartlesville.

Individual jewelry appointments are available by calling Collier at 918-214-1591.

New Art Gallery Opens in Pawhuska

By: Roseanne McKee
IMG_1892 (2)BruceCarter
Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery at 521 Kihekah Ave. spoke to the Kiwanis Club recently about his new gallery, the path he travelled to become an artist and what led him to choose Pawhuska.

“When I was in high school I took art. I was really fortunate that my high school had a residential artist supplied by the state arts council come to our school for six months and totally changed the future that I would take in life. I was going to be a welder.”

Despite his plans to become a welder, Carter decided to take a six-month detour to take silversmithing classes at Northern Oklahoma College.

“At that point welding looked real big and silversmithing looked real small,” he said.

Nonetheless, Carter decided to pursue silversmithing as an art form.
“I’m a self-taught artist. In the art world that’s called someone from outside the academic background. I am a traditional silversmith, which means I use no mechanical tools. I do everything by hand. I’m also a traditional engraver, which means I carve all of the old cowboy patterns and things you see on work before early 1900.

“The gallery, I’d like to say it was planned, but it wasn’t. I had moved to Pawhuska and I decided I’m going to go back to silversmithing, which I had quit for 13 years.”

“I wanted to get back into the arts. I have always loved Pawhuska. I’ve driven through here. I’ve stopped here, I have visited Pawhuska. I was at a point in my life when I decided, I want to do what I really want to do and do it someplace that I really want to do it at. Hence, my move to Pawhuska,” Carter said.

Initially, he was just looking for a ten by ten space in which to do his silver work.

“The gallery kind of took shape after talking to lots of people in town…There’s a big push in Pawhuska to make it a center for the arts, to encourage the arts, to encourage artists, to encourage galleries.

We don’t sit on a major highway. We’re not a great place for industry … but we’re a great tourism destination. The number one reason people come to a destination is shopping, number two is history. Pawhuska has history.

Once he decided to move forward, he obtained building space at 521 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska, next door to Osage Outfitters and across the street from Ree Drummond’s building at the corner of Main St. and Kihekah.

“Three weeks later, [in July] we opened with 11 nationally known artists. That’s unheard of.
“Artists in this area were ready for a gallery. They believed in Pawhuska … and they were ready to come in and make that work. They also share my vision.

“Artists believe Pawhuska is a great place for art. If you’re an artist the tallgrass is a great asset. They love the Osage Hills, they love the ranches in this area.”

Of the 14 artists now represented in the gallery, Carter said that two of them have given exclusive rights to their artwork to be sold in the gallery in Oklahoma.

“That’s huge for Pawhuska,” Carter said.
It means if you want to buy a Burneta Venosdel, you have to buy it here. Burneta is a sculptor from Tahlequah has won several national awards, Carter added.

“If you want to buy a Carolyn Mock, other than from the artist herself, you have to buy it in Pawhuska.

Describing his approach, Carter said, “[a]lthough I am the owner, we run the gallery as a co-op. All the artists get a voice in what we do. For example, if we decide to advertise, we all get a voice in what venue we think is the best for that advertising.”

The artists are also in the process of forming an art guild in Pawhuska.

“One of the things the artists have consistently told me is that they want to teach sculpture and painting. They want to teach other professionals, so we are putting together an art school for professionals…. Professional artists spend a lot of money going places learning to paint and sculpt. They stay in a town up to a week at a time, so the artists have decided that we need a school,” Carter explained.

To that end, “the Oklahoma Sculpture Society will be coming to Pawhuska Oct. 19. Burneta Venosdel will be teaching a class to professional sculptors that day on the streets of downtown Pawhuska and at Liberty Ranch, a huge draw for Pawhuska, a huge draw for tourists.
“People sometimes have a misconception that galleries bring artists. That’s not how that works. Artists bring galleries.”

Carter cited several cities known for art as examples: Eureka Springs, Fredericksburgh Tx., Santa Fe and Red River.

In addition to his own move to Pawhuska, at Carter’s suggestion, two of the artists whose work is represented in the Tallgrass Art Gallery hope to move to Pawhuska, so Pawhuska is on its way to becoming an artistic hub.
Carter is sowing into Pawhuska by his presence and by his sponsorship of events. The Tallgrass Gallery plans to change the artwork exhibited monthly, have monthly receptions and establish “Women, Wine and Art” on the third Thursday of each month.

In addition, Tallgrass Art Gallery is sponsoring a street dance on Kihekah Ave., ‘A Night in Ole Pawhuska’ on the evening of Oct. 3 after the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. All donations and proceeds will benefit The Pawhuska Arts and Preservation group. There will be music by Jimmie Johnson, community art projects, artist’s demonstrations, gallery opening and the grand opening of the Tallgrass Art School.

Carter is also planning a children’s art show in December in which there will be no prizes, but children’s artwork (8.5” by 11”) will be displayed and offered for sale at $25 each with the proceeds going toward arts and preservation.

The Tallgrass Art Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment.

To learn more about the upcoming activities of Tallgrass Art Gallery visit their Facebook page, visit their website or call them at 580-304-8731.

For information on classes and Tallgrass Art School, visit, Tallgrass Art School on Facebook or call Kenyon at 918-728-0804.