Professor's Art Unveiled at BOK Center
After more than two years of preparation and countless hours of brushwork, Mark Lewis’s paintings were unveiled in the new BOK Center in Tulsa this fall. Lewis, applied associate professor of art, was commissioned for his captivating depictions of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Oklahoma landscapes he’s painted on site for more than seven years.
BOK Center officials wanted artwork that would represent Tulsa and Oklahoma culture to fill a center whose architecture was influenced by the Arkansas River, Oklahoma skies and art deco. Lewis’s work, colorful paintings of natural Oklahoma scenery, is the perfect addition to the state-of-the-art arena.
Lewis had planned to start painting the artwork last summer, however, the arrival of the 3 feet by 4 feet aluminum panels that were used as “canvases” was delayed.
“It worried me,” Lewis said. “But I was able to start painting right away when they arrived in October. The last nine months have been nonstop.”
Lewis prepped the surfaces with an oil ground white primer, and then began painting the Oklahoma landscapes inside his studio in the Blue Dome in downtown Tulsa. It wasn’t until the end of June that he laid down his brush, and then he began coating the finished work with a light varnish to protect the pieces.
In late August, the featured prairie scenes were installed in file lines of five on the upper level of the arena, just above the main entrance. The entire piece is 16 feet wide by 21 feet tall with 3 inches between each panel. A guardrail was installed to protect the paintings from curious viewers. The official unveiling was Wednesday, November 5, 2008.
“It’s been an honor to be considered and accepted,” said Lewis. “Hopefully my work will be appreciated. It’s exciting that the art will be seen by so many. I’m anxious to see the response.”