Anders Nilsson stands in the rotunda of the Oklahoma state Capitol admiring the life-size painting of Oklahoma legend Jim Thorpe.
Nilsson, equipped with a travel pack that has accompanied him from his hometown in Sweden, said he is making a cross-country journey across the United States and Oklahoma is just one of more than a dozen states he will visit.
“I started in Massachusetts and I've been to Vermont and New York and I'll eventually end up in California,” Nilsson said. “But I wanted to stop in Oklahoma, and I'm glad I did.”
With more than 150 different pieces of art featured at the Oklahoma State Capitol, Nilsson said he had to take the guided tour so he could get a full grasp of what he was seeing.
“I wanted to see the state Capitol and I think I saw just about everything,” Nilsson said. “I think the huge murals are my favorite. I like the story they tell.”
The stories the murals tell are of Oklahoma's beginnings, such as the discovery of Oklahoma or the early trading between settlers and American Indians.
But the mural that caught the eye of Randy Riley was one by artist Jeff Dodd depicting two roughnecks working on an oil rig, with the Oklahoma state flag as a backdrop.
“That's what I used to do,” Riley said. “It's neat to see your own history blown up so big on the wall.”
Riley, of Nowata, said he came to the Capitol to show his daughter, Hayly, the people she had been studying in class.
Hayly Riley said her fourth-grade class learned all about Sequoyah, so it was cool to see the gigantic painting of him by artist Charles Banks Wilson.
Price of exhibit — free
With a visual history of Oklahoma offered to the public for free every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Lindy Woods, of Edmond, said the Capitol is a must stop whenever she has visitors in town.
“This is a really cool place to bring people because it's free,” Woods said. “You're able to give people from out of state a flavor of what our history is all about.”
Woods' sister, Kim Rogers, is in town this week. She said she was enjoying getting to see all of the artwork because she is an artist herself.
“I'm really impressed, I think it's fabulous,” Rogers said. “I think it's a great collection.”
Rogers, of Shreveport, La., said she is a painter who likes to illustrate dilapidated places that once were popular but are no longer.
She said in addition to being attracted to the painting, “A Storm Passing Northwest of Anadarko,” by Wilson Hurley, she is stunned to see good artwork in a state Capitol building.
“The Capitol building in Austin is just like all the guys and politicians that worked there and it's super boring,” Rogers said. “But everything here is great, and it's the history and landscapes and the people of Oklahoma that they chose.
“I don't know if anyone really has an idea that this great amount of art exists in the Capitol. It's not just portraits of old, dead politicians.”