MIAMI, OK — Famed American artist Charles Banks Wilson died Thursday in Rogers, Ark.
Carrie Wilson said her father died peacefully. He was 94.
“He just went to sleep,” Wilson said. “He thought he would die with a paintbrush in his hand.”
Failing health the past year forced the artist to give up painting, she said.
“He said was ready to go since he couldn't hold a paintbrush any longer,” Carrie Wilson said.
“Charles Banks Wilson will be remembered as an Oklahoma treasure who inspired so many lives as a faculty member at NEO A&M College and as Oklahoma's most iconic artist,” said Jeffery Hale, president of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
During his life, Wilson was a painter, printmaker, teacher, lecturer, historian, and magazine and book illustrator.
Wilson, who was not American Indian, focused his paintings on American Indians, their background and lifestyle.
“He drew what he saw, and living in Oklahoma, he drew Indians,” Carrie Wilson said.
Charles Banks Wilson's work has been shown in more than 200 exhibits in the United States and overseas. Permanent collections of his work are housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum, the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Gallery, the Gilcrease Museum and the Smithsonian.
His historical murals wrap the state Capitol's rotunda, and several paintings of famous Oklahomans — including Will Rogers, Carl Albert, Jim Thorpe, Robert S. Kerr, Angie Debo, Sequoyah and Woody Guthrie — are on permanent display in the Capitol.
As a teenager, Wilson started sketching Will Rogers.
In a 2011 interview, Wilson said, “I was probably 13 or 14 and I made a drawing of him when he was there, so consequently, one thing led to another, and as the years went on, the painting that I had done of Will Rogers became popular.”
The original oil painting was donated to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution.
Charles Banks Wilson was born Aug. 6, 1918, to Charles Wilson and Bertha Banks Wilson, and they lived in Springdale, Ark. As a child, he grew up in Miami, OK, but he later retired to Fayetteville, Ark.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Paul Thomas Funeral Home in Miami.
The funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church in Miami. Solomon Jones will conduct a traditional Indian rites graveside service.
Wilson is survived by his daughter, Carrie Wilson. He was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Edna McKibben Wilson, and son, Geoffrey Banks Wilson, who died in 2011.