Oklahoma Road

Jacques Hans Gallrein

Oklahoma Road depicts a fall landscape in Jacques Hans Gallrein’s adopted state. It’s focal point is a blazing oak tree. A tree or a group of trees were favorite subjects of Gallrein’s and appear in many of his works.

Gallrein studied at the Kauntstgwerbe-Handwerker school before being admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1907. The Kaiser was beginning regimentation of German youth at the time and Gallrein wanted no part of it.

After landing in New York, he took a job in a bakery, delivering hot rolls to customers’ homes before breakfast. One of his paintings was put on display in the bakery window and caught the eye of Walter Fischer, an illustrator who immediately hired Gallrein. He worked in Fischer’s studio for two years before accepting a position as an art teacher for a Tishomingo high school. Lured by stories of wide open spaces, cowboys and Indians, he arrived in Oklahoma in 1909.

For several years, Gallrein had a studio in the First National Building in Oklahoma City, but he grew tired of city life. Inspired by Walden Pond, he wanted a place where he could be close to nature and paint without interruption. His wife, Florence, who worked in the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office for fifteen years, suggested they move to her family’s 320 acres in Payne County. In 1943, the couple built a small cabin which served as both home and studio.

Gallrein became the Art Director for Oklahoma State University. In the 1950s, he was instrumental in forming art groups in north central Oklahoma, where artists met on a weekly basis to hone their skills and perfect their techniques.

In a 1951 interview with The Oklahoman, Gallrein said, “We see enough ugliness in the world. In art we should be able to see beauty.” He believed that art should be a part of everyone’s life and enjoyed showing his art at festivals. “At least the people look at paintings and talk about them, decide which ones they like best. That is what I want them to do.”

His paintings garnered awards at the Oklahoma State Fair in 1912, the Oklahoma Museum of Conservative Art in 1943, the Oklahoma City Art Guild in 1955 and 1956 and the Oklahoma Art Center in 1959. He was named Environmental Painter of the Year in 1972 by the School of Environmental and Health Sciences at East Central State University.

Source: The Oklahoman, February 18, 1951, June 10, 1956, May 14, 1961, March 9, 1969; Oklahoma Today, Summer 1975, pp. 4-5, Cherokee Strip Museum website, Northwest Corner newsletter archives, Cherokee-strip-museum.org, accessed August 23, 2011.

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