Guthrie is burgeoning as a tourist attraction and hosts several arts-based events throughout the year, but until recently the town lacked a fine arts museum.

Retired University of Central Oklahoma art professor Wallace Owens rectified that this year by opening the Owens Arts Place Museum in a former church.

Owens recruited another retired UCO art professor, Dean Hyde, to join him for the museum’s second exhibit, “The Three Amigos.”

“I used to work with Dean Hyde at UCO,” Owens said. “We thought it would be good to get together and do a show called ‘Three Amigos’ because Dean had a Southwestern influence. I had painted out in New Mexico and Colorado and so did Glen (Thomas).”

The museum’s intimate setting features the men’s work, which span four decades.

The “Amigos” styles contrast dramatically.

Thomas’ work is very realistic featuring smoothly detailed busts.

Hyde paints landscapes, crows, Native Americans and roosters that feature a slightly abstract, illustrative style.

“I was raised on a farm and always liked roosters, they are arrogant and have a special air to them I like to paint,” Hyde said of one of his series, “Cock of the Walk.”

Owens’ work features his early work as a cubist in the ’60s and his later works are richly textured landscapes and politically provocative sculptures.

“I was influenced by Picasso a bit, but lacked a contemporary approach,” Owens said.

“My work invites you to look at it. You can’t just glance at it and walk away and still get the gist of it. It invites you to keep learning and delve into the depths of the work itself.”

They resist promoting one theme in the exhibit, which allows the men to display the directions their work has taken over the years.

A change for Hyde has been a new abundance of free time.

“I’m retired and it’s like a compulsion, I paint everyday and part of it might be that I’m nervous and I put some of that energy into my painting,” Hyde said.

“I desperately needed a place to show my work, I have 500 paintings framed and needed an outlet for them.”

His retirement not only pays off in the quantity of works, but their quality. Hyde enjoys having more time to stretch out of his comfort zone.

“I have more experimental time, I can try out more methods,” Hyde said. “Painting is an experiment. You are trying to express yourself and if you don’t like the way a work comes out, you can try another method.”

Many of the themes that Hyde pursues originated with childhood curiosities, including his experiences growing up on a farm and his fascination with the Native American culture.

That curiosity is exhibited with his figures inspired by Native American figures called Katchina, “spirit people.”

The Owens Arts Place Museum is still getting settled and is looking for volunteer help.

They recently received their 501c3 status so they can receive donations.

“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Owens said of the museum. “It gives me a chance to get in and see the administrative side of it and give back to the community.”

Owens said that the museum is not just to showcase his work, but also to promote the arts as the only fine arts museum in Logan County history.

“I’m trying to do something that will enhance the arts,” Owens said. “We need this here to help the young people, help the community in its orientation in fine arts.”

Hyde relishes every chance that to show his work. Like many artists, he was frustrated while holding down a full time job because of the lack of time. He wants to make the most of his talent now that he is free to paint.

“I had gotten to where I still liked to paint, but I didn’t because I didn’t know what to paint, that bothered me,” Hyde said of when he was teaching.

His experiences as a professor were valuable to his progression as an artist though, and he would like to work with seniors in the future.

(Charles Martin may be reached via e-mail at cmartin@edmondsun.com.)

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