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New art shows Chickasaw's love of tribe

OKLAHOMA CITY – Brian Landreth's Chickasaw blood stirs him spiritually. His Native art is consuming more of his time. The commercial projects he devotes himself to at his day job as a graphic artist satisfy an artistic itch but not his artistic soul.

When the Oklahoma City resident began this relatively new journey of dedicating himself to Native-themed art, it was with a message to himself. "I promised myself any new work had to be genuine – from the heart. My measure for it being successful is if it reflects the strength, passion and integrity of my Chickasaw heritage," Landreth proclaims with passion.

Just a year ago, Landreth's artistic impression of the famed Paseo Arts District at NW 30th and Walker, was the official poster for the 2017 Paseo Arts Festival. Landreth's graphics-generated design featured a tree of musical instruments, painters' palettes, musical notes, a starry sky and the unmistakable pink and taupe buildings lining the streets of Paseo.

This year, Landreth will be in Sulphur, Oklahoma, showing Chickasaw-inspired paintings during the Fifth Annual Artesian Arts Festival which stretches for blocks in the downtown area. More than 100 Native artists representing many tribes will showcase their talents during the one-day festival May 26.

"I am excited about being there again this year and not having to serve two masters," he said laughing. He spent many hours autographing the Paseo poster last year before exhibiting works at the Chickasaw Nation-sponsored festival.

For the Kids

Landreth is an intelligent, eclectic artist.

His interests include illustrations of cartoon characters, creations of cartoon superheroes, computer-assisted graphic arts, painting and other mediums.

He is bringing something for everyone to this year's festival, including Native art that will appeal to children.

"I am bringing art connected to Native clan animals," he explained. "It will be fun little things kids will enjoy ... like cute animals." It also will be a history lesson to them. They will discover Native American families were members of clans and that clans commanded respect and reverence among tribal members and beyond.

Painting, watercolor, and pen and ink dominate Landreth's Native artwork. His major pieces at the Artesian Arts Festival are titled "Crawfish Makes the Land," and "Hoop Dancer."

"I have several other smaller pieces I believe people will enjoy as well," he said.

"Native art is much different to me because it is part of my heritage, so I approach it from a much more personal, and emotional aspect than art I produce commercially," he explained. "Native art has meaning to me, where the other work I do is more dependent on what I have been exposed to over the years – like pop culture influences."

Print reproductions of Landreth's art are available at Exhibit C in Oklahoma City's Bricktown, as well as the Chickasaw Nation Davis Welcome Center and Chickasaw Nation Tishomingo Information Center.

Two Worlds

Landreth moves easily between the two worlds where his abilities and creativeness hold sway.

His day job thrills him. As a graphic artist, he is versed in advertising campaigns, computer-generated imagery and indulges the child within by drawing cartoonish characters for client advertising or promotional endeavors.

He is employed at the Dale Rogers Training Center, Oklahoma's oldest and largest nonprofit community vocational training and employment center for individuals with disabilities. Landreth puts his graphic arts mastery to work to satisfy client needs and desires.

But his mind often travels back to visits to Ringling, Oklahoma, to a time when he drew cartoons on exhausted rolls of newsprint discarded by the local newspaper. He fondly recalls his father, Dewey, who spoke of his mother, Hannah, an original enrollee with the Chickasaw Nation. Her allotted land was near the small, southwestern community that 1,037 people called home in the 2010 census.

"As a child, it was a place full of wonder and adventure. My father was Chickasaw and a proud Marine," he said. The family home was adorned with Chickasaw memorabilia and Native American art. He remembers stomp dances and powwows and has a profound respect for Chickasaw tribal heritage.

It was in Midwest City, a young Brian Landreth realized he could be an artist while still making a living. "I wanted to be in art classes more than I wanted to be in other classes," Landreth recalls with a hearty laugh.


Quick-witted with a delightful sense of humor, Landreth is a connoisseur of hard work and long hours. Since his 57th birthday, however, he is pacing himself, he admits.

With work hours and hours devoted to expand horizons with Native art, he decompresses with "compression – I love to scuba dive," he said tongue-in-cheek.

His first-ever dive was off the Grand Cayman Island, noted for beautiful Caribbean waters and harmful critters.

Landreth described the dive as "trying not to die."

"You think 'OK, I am 40 feet down. How far is it to air?'" Landreth laughs. "It takes a little mind-training to get over that. It is much better now. I'm far more relaxed with it. So, I'm going back for some training and looking forward to another adventure ... hoping I don't get eaten by a shark."


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