Commissioned by the Oklahoma Centennial
Autumn Woods North of Tahlequah is one of four paintings in Wilson Hurley's Visions of the Land: The Centennial Suite that represents the four quadrants of Oklahoma's diverse landscape. The paintings were an official Oklahoma Centennial Project dedicated in 2002. The commission was directed by the Oklahoma Arts Council. Philanthropist Roger M. Dolese made The Centennial Suite possible.
As one travels northeast in Oklahoma, the land becomes more rolling and hills appear, rounded with age and partly covered with forest. Wide pastures lie in the valleys and many homesteads and barns cluster near the water courses. In the fall, just southwest of the grocery store at Peggs, there's an array of sumac, oak, sycamore and one old maple, bright red in the quiet, cool sunlight that lingers for a few days before winter comes. - Wilson Hurley
Although he grew up in Washington D.C., artist Wilson Hurley considers Tulsa, Oklahoma home. Born in Tulsa in 1924, Hurley eventually moved to the Washington area as a young boy when his father became Secretary of War under the Hoover administration. Though he had a burgeoning interest in art as a child, Hurley's artistic tendencies were often stifled by his father under the notion that art was not a respectable career. Fortunately Hurley's mother felt differently. She encouraged her son in his talents by taking him to numerous museums where he saw the works of Inness, Bierstadt, Moran, and Church - all artists who would eventually become Hurley's inspiration 30 years later when he began painting full-time. By the time he was a professional painter, Hurley had already earned a degree in military engineering from West Point, as well as a law degree from George Washington University. However, neither career had satisfied Hurley and he turned to his "Sunday hobby" - painting.
Hurley often chooses to paint a particular subject because he finds it beautiful and he wants the viewer to understand how it delights him saying, "A good painting stops the heart and makes the throat ache." Today his works are included in numerous collections throughout the country including the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Gilcrease Museum, and the Whitney Gallery of Western Art.