Sept. 15, 2014 – Jan. 3, 2015
Artist Reception Oct. 9, 2014
An Okie reclaims his roots through art
Buffalo, birds and black labs inspire Duncan artist Mikel Davison. So does Oklahoma history. Incorporating the everyday ordinary into his artwork, Davison combines the quirky personalities of animals, like his black lab, with the rich history of Oklahoma to create unique pieces – all with a story.
Carving cigar store Indians from 100-year-old fallen trees, finding reclaimed wood that becomes useful home furniture and décor, and cast-off windows for his canvases, Davison believes in using what is available.
The Alva-born native, now 57, gained his love of history from his father, and his creative inquisitiveness from his mother. But art didn’t put him through school. It was basketball. It’s what paid the bills. (He’s 6’9”) – In recent years though, he’s found a way to do what he loves and manages to combine education, history, sport and art.
He and wife, Vicki, a superintendent at Empire Public School District, moved from their rural homestead at Empire, to another rural homestead, closer to Duncan. Buying the 35-acres of land on Beech Avenue, west of Duncan, allowed Vicki to stay in her school district, and Mikel to have a shorter commute to his job in Duncan. For both, education has played front and center in their lives.
Davison attended East Central University in Ada on a basketball scholarship, with hopes of getting an art degree.
“I was told you can’t be an athlete and an artist. Basketball was paying and art wasn’t. So I ended up going into education. I put the paintbrush down.”
In his 30s, he returned to college – University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, to get his art degree. He dabbled in art, until about three years ago when he decided to really put his own personality and interests into the efforts. Every piece he creates is inspired by the piece he is working on, whether it is barbed wire found in his pasture, or wood and windows reclaimed from a dumpster.
Humor of Grackles
“I like grackles. The reason I like grackles, they’re an immovable force. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked out of Walmart and they are standing there, one-legged. They’re like cockroaches.”
It’s the ordinary everyday things like that, in which Davison, finds inspiration.
Okie roots equal eclectic art
Looking around at his property, you see a jackrabbit created out of discarded barb wire – more uses for things found. During construction of their home, barbed wire fences were cut down. He was reeling it up and began thinking about a poem where the jackrabbits were roaming.
“I could ‘see’ them zigzagging all over the place and that’s where he came from.” He loves his Okie roots and everything it inspires – the history, the landscapes, the people and animals. Engaging his audience with the descriptive and passionate paintbrush of words – the artist, the teacher – becomes a storyteller of history.
“I can see the (Native Americans) picking the blackberries putting them in the pemmican. All that plays into my art, my thoughts, my life. I really want to be part of that.”
In preparing for his first local show, he has spent the summer carving wood, painting and creating. Davison is constantly creating, working on four or five projects at any given time. A cigar store Indian takes about 40 hours to carve and finish. Everyday items like metal pie tins become feathers on the piece. An old fringed rug becomes a seat on a chair.
Discarded outhouse boards become a hutch.
Soxy, the black lab
“She’s subject to a lot of my paintings,” he says of the dog who found him. Free reign over the land, her personality makes him laugh.
One of his favorite paintings is that of the dog, with a bluejay sitting on her head. The bluejay represents the weight of the world.
It isn’t difficult to let go of the pieces, he says.
“It’s meant to be shared. Like words. Hopefully someone will cherish it as much as I do. Perfection of a piece doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. A good story isn’t told in perfect English.”
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Be sure to like Mikel Davison’s Facebook Page: Dry Creek Art & Custom Furniture