Oklahoma Artist Charles Banks Wilson Laid To Rest
MIAMI, Oklahoma - Oklahoma lost one of the state's great artists with the death of Charles Banks Wilson.
He had been called an historian for his work, painting portraits of Oklahoma's indian tribes, but he considered himself more of a storyteller.
He was painting portraits of notable Oklahomans when he was teenager. Will Rogers posed for him. But he most often painted regular people he pulled into his studio.
Oklahoma can never forget Charles Banks Wilson, because he spent a lifetime creating a reflection of Oklahoma's people. His work is in art museums, government capitols and textbooks. After 94 years of life, his body of work is complete.
There was a funeral Tuesday in Miami for Charles Banks Wilson. His family and friends crowded in. This wasn't so much about his art as it was about his life, but the two are inseparable.
"Charles Banks Wilson was called to be an artist and aren't you glad he was?" said family friend Reverend Geoff Buffalo. "Oh my goodness. Because he was called to be an artist and he received the gift that God had for him, our world is richer."
Charles Banks Wilson's almost singular theme was Native Americans, first of the people he knew around Miami, and eventually Indians from all over the country. He managed to capture not just their look, but the look of the world around them in his paintings.
It was a common misconception that he was Indian, but at his graveside that didn't matter. He was honored with a traditional Native American ceremony.
His family is scattered away from Miami, his friends are aging, and now his legacy is all that's left, but that's plenty.
His family hopes his work will get the attention it deserves.
"In watercolor, he was absolutely wonderful, and of course the mural paintings, but as a book illustrator and a painter, he had different styles he would go through, and I don't think that anyone has really looked at him in that way," said his daughter, Carrie Wilson.
Tuesday, Wilson's grandson spoke briefly at the graveside and noted a great gift. He left his family with permanent memories of what he saw and the way he saw things.
The rest of us get to enjoy that work, too.
The Oklahoma artist died May 2, 2013, in his sleep. He was 94 years old.