For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2008
President of the Art Fund and former Senator Charles
Ford and artist Wayne Cooper
stand with California Road, a painting dedicated at the state Capitol
Painting of "The California Road"
Unveiled in Senate
A large-scale painting of “The California Road” by
Oklahoma artist Wayne Cooper was unveiled today in the Oklahoma
State Senate. The California Road was a trail through Indian
Territory used by those heading west to California in search of
gold. The painting was commissioned by the Oklahoma State
Senate Historical Preservation Fund and sponsored by former State
Senator Joe and Carol McGraw of Tulsa.
“The California Road” is one of many large-scale landscapes
Cooper has done at the Capitol and it will hang on the second floor
near the Supreme Court.
“The painting depicts the famous Edwards’ trading
post which was travelers’ last chance on the trail for supplies
before New Mexico,” said Cooper. “This trading
post and the California Trail helped to literally put Oklahoma
on the map. This was really one of the first times that people
began traveling through this part of the country. It played
a major role in helping to develop the territory, and I’m
so honored to bring this piece of our state’s history to
The trail started at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and followed the south
bank of the South Canadian River through Indian Territory.
In 1834, Edwards’ Post was established as a trading post
where the Little River meets the South Canadian River, in what
is now Hughes County. By the late 1840’s, Edwards’ Post
was one of the busiest trade establishments in the territory since
it was regarded as the last chance east of New Mexico to supplement
Today, the California Road trail ruts remain as a monument to
an important episode in the development of the United States. In
more recent times, the route was used for modern highways, including
U.S. Highway 40.
The Senate Historical Preservation Fund was created and is overseen
by former State Senator Charles Ford of Tulsa.
“Wayne is a talented artist and we’ve been so fortunate
that he’s agreed to do several pieces for us,” said
Ford. “We owe a special thanks to the McGraw family
for their generosity that made this special project possible.”
Born in Tulsa in 1932, Joe McGraw served two years in the House
of Representatives from 1964 to 1966 and six years in the Senate
from 1966 to 1972. He also formed McGraw Breckinridge Company Realtors
in 1965 and then in 1986, merged the company into McGraw Davisson
Stewart Realtors, the largest independent real estate company in
Oklahoma with more than 500 professional sales associates. He
has been married to the former Carol Oxley since 1993, and together
they have nine children and 11 grandchildren. Carol serves
on the board of the G.M Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville
and Teen Challenge of Oklahoma.
For more information about this or other artwork at the Capitol,
go to www.oksenate.gov or
contact Pam Hodges at (405) 521-5675.