Lord of the Prairie

John A. White

John A. White attended Anadarko High School. Growing up there, he made frequent trips to Lawton and the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge at Medicine Park. Quanah Parker influenced President Theodore Roosevelt to create the Refuge, see page 69. The buffalo roaming the refuge today are descendants of animals imported from the Bronx Zoo in the early years of the Twentieth Century. The magnificent creatures have long intrigued White and captured his imagination.

“They’ve always inspired me,” he said. “I’ve always thought they were beautiful animals, very majestic. It’s very impressive how the Indians used absolutely every part of the animal.”

White worked as a design draftsman and illustrator for OG&E in Oklahoma City. During his years with the utility company, he developed and honed his watercolor technique under the guidance of fellow Oklahoma Judicial Center artist Bert Seabourn, see page 169. “I would watch him paint during the lunch hour. He would use wash after wash. I learned that technique from him.”

In 1984, White loaded his car with his paintings and headed to Santa Fe. Within a few days, he’d sold almost all of his pieces. He left OG&E and has been painting professionally ever since. In the beginning, he sold paintings door to door in Oklahoma City during the week and on the weekends he would display his work at festivals and art shows. Since then, things have become a bit easier. White’s work is included in the private collections of people across the country and shown in top galleries from New Mexico to Indiana.

“God gave me the talent to do something I really enjoy and that’s worth a lot,” White said. “A lot of people can’t say they really enjoy the work they do every day. I am very blessed.”

In 1992, White won the Kansas Indian Heritage Award. His work is often included in the Red Earth Show, the Texas Indian Market and the Colorado Indian Market. He shares his love of painting with students in community art classes and at Murray State College. Lord of the Prairie was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection and is White’s first work to be included in a public art collection.

Source: Personal interview, April 15, 2013.