Commissioned by the Oklahoma Centennial
Spring Morning Along the Muddy Boggy 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.
Before the Sooners, in about 1880, the Choctaws opened some coal mines south of Coalgate near Lehigh. My grandfather brought his hungry family up from Texas to work at the mines and live as tenants there. My father was born there in 1883, and my grandmother, whom I never knew, lies with the honeysuckle surrounding her in the Lehigh Cemetery. While there in the spring, the low clouds were racing northeast and the sun was swinging great shafts of light across the shadowed land. One burst of light washed over a field of yellow flowers like an all-forgiving and comforting blessing, and affirmation of how beautiful Oklahoma is. - 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.