Osage sculptor, painter and jeweler Clancy Gray of Tulsa, OK is named Red Earth Honored One for 2019, an award bestowed upon a Native master visual artist whose support of Indian art has been substantial throughout their life. Gray will be recognized during the 33rd Red Earth Festival scheduled June 7-9, 2019 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
On his way to becoming a physical education teacher, the Broken Arrow resident ended up teaching art, the love of which he discovered right before he began his student teaching nearly 40 years ago. That new love of art added onto his first love of teaching and coaching allowed the Osage Nation member to create an art legacy of intergenerational impact in the Tulsa area.
The UCO art education graduate says teaching all that art keeps him excited about his own artistic efforts. Gray, now 67, and retired from the Tulsa Public School District, says his retirement allows him to create art year-round.
“For me teaching is sharing those things I hold precious to me - so it is only natural that I care the most about sharing my art, “ said Gray. “Teaching allowed me to see how art affects young artists positively every day.”
Gray’s use of depth in the impasto style of using a palette knife to apply his acrylics allows light to animate the painting. There is a stillness, balance and yet movement in his work. He can build up depth in the painting that can be highlighted by brilliant hues or light catching the shiny acrylic as intended.
The artist’s fondness for color, texture and asymmetrical design is also reflected in his jewelry, while his love of nature shows up in many of his portrayals of animals in action. This has allowed him to win many prestigious art awards during his long career in designing silvery jewelry and sculpture.
Gray is equally proud of the achievements of his art students in Tulsa, both at McLain High School for 17 years, East Central High School for 18 years and his final two years at Edison High School. He insists the students master the basics and then encourages them to create original works rather than copying pictures.
Along the way, he has often coached boys and girl’s soccer, baseball, girls’ softball, boys and girls cross country, and boys and girls swimming.
Gray is humble in person, often more comfortable taking about his artist friends and family. “My wife Sherry’s support for my art has made a huge contribution in our 43 years of marriage.”
The artists’ legacy started with his family, where his two brothers and sister all have impressive artistic achievements. Younger brother Shan Gray is known as a world-renowned sculptor in bronze. His older brother is a talented silversmith and his sister is recognized for her watercolor and pottery.
Clancy’s son Brett teaches art at the Freshman Academy in Broken Arrow. He also is a UCO art education graduate, teaching since 2006. In addition, his youngest son Dax is a former history teacher and now assistant principal in Broken Arrow at Ernest Childers Middle School. Mendi Gray Parker, his daughter, manages store marketing and public relations for Quik Trip in Tulsa.
His five grandchildren call him “Papa” or “Pops.”
The award-winning Red Earth Festival will draw thousands to the Cox Convention Center and Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City the weekend of June 8-10. Artists from throughout the nation will be featured in a juried art market that coincides with a spectacular powwow, outdoor parade, hand game tournament, and Ask the Expert sessions for those interested in learning more about their Native art pieces.
The Oklahoma Travel Industry Association has awarded its Redbud Award for Oklahoma’s Outstanding Event to previous Red Earth Festivals, and USA TODAY has named the Red Earth Festival one of 10 Great Places to Celebrate American Indian Culture. The American Bus Association has listed the Red Earth Festival a Top 100 Event in North America placing it alongside such greats as the Indianapolis 500, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Calgary Stampede as one of the very best events.
Tickets for the three-day festival can be purchased in advance online by visiting www.RedEarth.org. All children 18 and under are admitted free of charge with a paid adult. General admission day tickets available at the door are $15 and include admission to the Red Earth Art Market, general admission seating to the Red Earth PowWow, and access to all events and performances scheduled throughout the weekend. A $33 three-day ticket is also available.
Red Earth, Inc. is an Allied Arts member agency and is funded in part by the Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Red Earth, Inc. is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to promote the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through education, a premier festival, a museum and fine art markets.