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Oklahoma State Senate

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For Immediate Release: April 14, 2008

Frank Frantz painting dedication
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 on Monday

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 Capitol.”

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 supplies.

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.

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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