The Nesbitt family collection is on view in Chickasha

Rare photos and master prints collected by Charles and Margot Nesbitt, are included in an exhibition on view at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Published: May 13, 2012
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— A prominent Oklahoma family's gifts — ranging from rare photos to master prints — are on view at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. A selection of premier works from the collection donated to USAO by Margot Nesbitt and her late husband, Charles, who died in 2007, is on display at the rechristened Nesbitt Gallery.

Charles Nesbitt had served as Oklahoma's attorney general, corporation commissioner and energy secretary, and his wife Margot retired as Reverend Canon at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City. Faded, brown-hued photos of Indian chiefs taken in or around Fort Sill between 1870 and 1874, by frontier photographer Will Soule, supply one of the show's most striking elements.

Kiowa Chief Stumbling Bear stares back at us intently, wearing what looks like an Army coat, and Chief Solora, son of Santana, looks thoughtfully past us at an angle, his face framed by a single braid.

Equally striking, and unforgettable, are anonymous photos of “The Birth of Oklahoma City,” with tents giving way to buildings, some still under construction, in the days and weeks after the Land Run.

A bank sign leads our eyes into a bustling scene of horses, buggies and people walking on “Oklahoma Avenue” on May 13, 1889, in one picture, while a survey crew poses with its equipment in front of a tent in another.

Rivaling the impact of these photos is that of superb prints by such artists Albrecht Durer, Francisco Goya, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Raoul Dufy and Pablo Picasso.