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Columnist says Capitol should keeps its art, wacky or not

But when I took the time to pace the marble floors, I discovered the Capitol as a museum, not just a place for government business and wedding nuptials. I'm glad I did. There's a wealth of good work.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: August 25, 2010

If you want to see a circus mouse tossing Froot Loops, go to the state Capitol.

Where else would you find a tiny white mouse, balancing ever so carefully on top of thread bobbins, a bouncy ball and a container of cheese?

Elizabeth Hahn's painting "Say Cheese" is fantastically unexpected, and it's on display in the Oklahoma State Art Collection on the first floor of the Capitol.

I found it when I went to check out the mural "Beyond the Centennial," by Carlos Tello, a famous fresco painter living in Oklahoma City.

Capitol politicians are arguing about whether the mural is good or not, which is strange because it was finished four months ago.

Of course, art sensibilities seem to fall along party lines in this case. Personal aesthetics often lean to the left or right.

Tello's work is lovely up close. It's bright and stylistic. It's a challenge to absorb it all. And it's in the perfect location. It's in the Hall of Governors on the second floor.

I'm just going to say it: the Hall of Governors is a pretty boring room.

It's impressively tall, luxuriously furnished and full of a bunch of bronze heads. And to make matters worse, nearly all of the governors' haircuts are parted down the side, most to the left. Not even their hair is interesting. The only highlight is Alfalfa Bill Murray's mustache.

The new mural gives life to a room that is pretty mundane, unless you love hair parted to the left.

Tello's mural is very different from what else is going on the Capitol, which is an art museum in its own right. Nearly every wall is covered in something — photographs, quilts, pictures drawn in crayon, mouse with Froot Loops.

My husband and I married on the fifth floor, under the Rotunda. We were surrounded by beautiful paintings. We didn't decorate because there was no need.

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See the art

More than 100 pieces of art are on permanent display at the state Capitol. The collection is maintained by the Oklahoma Arts Council. The Capitol is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and guided tours are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Call (800) 652-6552 for tours. For more information or to look at photographs of the art, go to


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