Oklahoma Artist Harold Stevenson to be recognized by Oklahoma Legislature
Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association http://realtraveladventures.com/author/zinn/
www.new.seniornewsandliving.com – www.martinitravels.com
Octogenarian, Harold Stevenson will be honored with a Legislative proclamation and reception at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the afternoon of April 19 followed by a public reception.
At press time details are being formulated but for more information you may contact Melodye Blancett, at [email protected] or me at TRAVELSWI[email protected], with the subject line being “Harold Stevenson.”
This recognition comes as a result of decades of exhibitions with Harold’s studios ranging from Paris, to Idabel Oklahoma, Key West, and Wainscott, New York. As a native from Idabel Oklahoma, he now has returned to his beloved community as an example of the circle of life. He returned to his childhood home on Avenue A and subsequently passed it on to his nephew who built him a cabin in the Idabel woods.
In a 1998 Persimmon Hill Magazine interview by M.J. Van Deventer, she writes: “Harold Stevenson was drawing and using colors even before he learned to write his name. “I invented painting all by myself,” he says. Today, he is considered an iconoclast, an uncompromising artist who listened only to his own voice and paints the subjects that bring him the greatest pleasure.”
Harold says, “I was very precocious and by nature, I became very gregarious. There’s no such thing as a stranger to me.” At the age of twelve he opened his own studio in downtown Idabel. “Other kids my age were delivering papers or milk. But I had an art studio in the middle of town. I actually sold my paintings. I made my own job.”
Born on March 11, 1929 in Idabel and growing up in Idabel Harold was readily accepted by his neighbors when he asked to paint their portraits which later resulted in a larger than life exhibition of his works titled, The Great Society. With encouragement from the founder of the Oklahoma Art Center in Oklahoma City, Nan Sheets, Harold received education from the University of Oklahoma in 1947, Mexico City College, and studied under Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Max Schallinger.
Decades later his larger than life portraits were accepted into the Fred Jones Junior Museum of Art’s permanent collection accompanied with a monumental exhibition. The Museum recently accepted a collection of Harold’s paintings from longtime friend, Buddy Dugan, from his San Francisco’s home collection.
Besides the Fred Jones Junior Museum of Art collection, his works are also in the permanent collection of New York’s Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Besides other exhibitions his reclining panoramic portrait, inspired by actor Sal Mineo, is in the Guggenheim. Of note was his huge painting of Spanish bullfighter, El Cordobes, when it was hung from the Eiffel Tower. Harold is best known for his large canvas paintings, some ranging from six feet by ten feet.
Harold’s contemporaries and acquaintances include artists; Marcel du Champs, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Poteet Victory and philanthropist Peggy Guggenheim where he visited her at her Venice palazzo. He has been described as one of the art worlds living icons with work that spans almost seven decades. He is part of a generation that was once classified by a 1962 art show in New York City as the “New Realists.”
With an avid interest in classical history Harold Stevenson’s subject matter includes realistic depiction of classical subjects, Oklahoma cowboys, native Americans, landscapes and an admiration of the human form.
In coming back to his home in Idabel, Harold reflects: “There a providence that ties all these generations together. You cannot see the thread or the links that bind life together. But it is curious to me that in the last cycle of my life I would come back to this – my roots. It is a great reward for me to still be a local. I’m an armchair relic of the past, living in the house in which I was born.”
Harold continues from the 1998 interview. “But gradually I’m becoming a part of the current generation of Idabel people. I’m very interested in knowing the next generation. I have a new following. And it is very flattering.”