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JC Watts knows what it means to dig deep

Skirvin Hilton Celebrates a Special Anniversary Jo Meacham shares "Classic Collaborations" from 2016 NextGen Under 30 2016 Award Ceremony .

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J.C. Watts: Sports, politics and life gave him reason to ‘Dig Deep’ by Tim Farley



Suzanne Mears: Glass atist by Tim Farley


“Birds and Beyond”: A Perfect Gift for Bird Lovers by M.J. Van Deventer



American Indian female artists’ work showcased


Mike Wimmer tapped for Prestigious Honor by M.J. Van Deventer


Keep Oklahoma Bautiful going strong more than 50 years later by Sandi Davis


Opening Night: New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma City



Skirvin Hotel celebrating 10th anniversary of reopening: ‘Great Lady’ has served OKC since 1911


CEO Funk makes major announcement: Express employees to receive $5,000 for dependent care services


First Liberty Bank Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Unitholders


Classic Collaborations: Jo Meacham guides homeowners’ ideas by Tim Farley, Photos by Michael Downes

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Helen Ford Wallace: The Ultimate Party Girl by M.J. Van Deventer


NextGen Under 30 Award Honors Mark Costello: First recipients named at 2016 awards banquet by Garland McWatters


Next Gen Awards 2016: Investing in the Millennial Generation is Important to Oklahoma’s Future by Don Swift



Psych! Trick Your Brain into Keeping New Year Resolutions


by Mindy Ragan Wood


by Sandi Davis

Amazing Work: Jim Kinammon helps the less fortunate in the U.S. and overseas by Tim Farley

La Fonda on the Plaza: A look back in time combined with modern trends




OKC Thunder 2016-2017 Schedule




Sensitive Santa’s Special Magic by Mindy Ragan Wood


Still Shopping? – Gift ideas to consider by Linda Miller

DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 9

Publisher’s Note Welcome to ion Oklahoma Magazine, one of Oklahoma’s fastest growing online digital

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lifestyle magazines and news-entertainment website. In 2016 we have experienced a 17% growth rate when compared to the same time period in 2015. Are you one of these people who get the majority of their news and other information each month over the Internet? If so, we want you to visit Many of our ion subscribers download free each of the annual six printed editions to their computers or mobile phones and read as they get time to review. At ion Oklahoma magazine we are continuing to send over 300,000 emails monthly with certain weekly updates like photos from local events in our ion website photo gallery pages and brief videos from our ion website video diary pages. In just a short 60 months ion Oklahoma Magazine and website have attracted over 39,677 opt in ion subscribers that enjoy the feature stories and content we publish and post. On this past November 18, 2016 ion Oklahoma Magazine sponsored the sixth annual NextGen Under 30 awards ceremony. The decision was made early in 2016 to expand this award recognition program statewide and honor talented young Oklahomans in 16 different career categories. From over 1,000 nominations, 296 winners were selected by the judges in September 2016. We recognize this success of ion Oklahoma Magazine could not be possible without you our loyal followers. Please let us hear from you with any suggestions for publishing certain stories about Oklahoma events, people or travel. Our ion Oklahoma website weekly special edition “Eye On The Weekend” has been the most popular and read during 2016. Sincerely Don Swift Publisher ion Oklahoma Magazine 220 West Wilshire Ste F2 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73116 405.607.0930

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2016–2017 2016–20 17 OCCC OC CC CC Performing Perfform o ing Arts Arts Series Series Close To You: The Music of the Carpenters Saturday, January 21 • 8:00 PM A tribute to the Carpenters complete with all their big hits, plus anecdotes and stories about Karen’s life and songs.

Carrie Newcomer - CD Release Concert Friday, January 27 • 7:30 PM Carrie Newcomer combines a rich voice with equally rich lyrics to weave a tapestry of life and hope.

Artrageous "Art & Music, Gone Wild"

Koresh Dance Company 25th Anniversary, Classic Koresh

Tuesday, January 24 • 7:30 PM Koresh strives to be an artistic force by creating innovative and emotional dance performances for audiences around the world.

Defending the Caveman

Friday, February 10 • 7:30 PM Saturday, February 11 • 1:30 PM & 7:30 PM A hilariously insightful play about the ways men and women relate which has both sexes roaring with laughter and recognition.

The U.S. Army Field Band

Tuesday, March 21 • 7:30 PM Witness an artist painting a masterpiece in front of your eyes, combined with captivating vocals, intricate choreography and exciting music.

Jazz Ambassadors ! Free Concert Saturday, April 1 • 7:30 PM Returning to OCCC, the Jazz Ambassadors, č“iÀˆV>½Ã ˆ} >˜`]ˆÃ̅iœvwVˆ>̜ÕÀˆ˜}Lˆ}         band of the United States Army.

Opus Cactus - MOMIX Dance Company

Les Liaisons Dangereuses - January 15 Hangmen - April 23 The Deep Blue Sea - May 14

Tuesday, April 11 • 7:30 PM Experience a visual journey into the mysteries and hidden secrets of the Southwestern desert… a spectacular blend of physical theatre, circus, athleticism, and comedy.


Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema: A Contemporary Evening - May 7 All events are encore presentations pre-recorded in HD. Sundays, at 6:00 PM

The Oklahoma City Community College Performing Arts Series invites you to share the gift of music and dance this Holiday Season! Great tickets are still available for all performances.

To order, visit tickets.occc.eduœÀV>̅i œÝ"vwVi{äx‡ÈnӇÇxǙ°      

"Ž>…œ“> ˆÌÞ œ““Õ˜ˆÌÞ œi}iUÇÇÇÇ-°>ÞčÛi˜Õ           Cultural Programs

COVER Sports, politics and life gave J.C. Watts reason to ‘Dig Deep’ Former OU quarterback faced adversity many times, but overcame all obstacles BY TIM FARLEY


hether he was quarterback at the University of Oklahoma or a congressman serving the Fourth District, J.C. Watts always knew what it meant to dig deep.

Without a doubt, that’s the reason his new book “Dig Deep” holds that particular title. Watts spent 20 years in athletics, 20 years in politics and has been a youth pastor, husband, father and friend to many. With each role, Watts knew there were certain responsibilities he had to fulfill. Oftentimes, it wasn’t easy and that’s when he had to “dig deep.” Watts, now 59, has traveled around the nation affirming that “life can be messy, difficult and stinky sometimes,” he said, during a telephone interview with “People have to remember that every storm runs out of rain,” he said. “The sun is going to shine again but in the middle of difficulties it’s difficult to see that.” Watts seems to love using clichés and folk wisdom expressed by his father. He uses those teachings and his own wisdom when talking about the difficulties he encountered during his collegiate football career and later on the Oklahoma and national political scene. Watts began his OU career in 1979, assuming the QB role after Thomas Lott graduated and headed to the NFL. Lott left OU after the ’78 season as the Sooners finished with a No. 3 national ranking, an 11-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory. Watts’ first season started well as OU cruised to a 4-0 record heading into the Red River rivalry with Texas. 12 ionOklahoma


Barry Switzer introduces the Honorable J.C. Watts, keynote speaker at the 2016 Next Gen Awards program on November 30.

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tJ.C. Watts with Olivia Kay, Heather’ Kay, and Governor Mary Fallin.

“I remember that game well,” Watts recalled. “We lost (16-7) and we had seven turnovers, four were on me. If I would have wanted to call my friends after that game it would have only taken a couple of quarters.” Instead of feeling depressed about the loss, Watts went back to work, reviewed game film and the Sooners rebounded with seven consecutive victories, another Orange Bowl championship and a No. 3 national ranking. During his senior season, OU started with a 2-2 mark. However, Watts led the Sooners to seven straight wins, including a big victory against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln and another Orange Bowl title. “Sometimes you find yourself in a ditch and you ask yourself ‘how did we get here?’ As a team my senior season, we took it one day at a time, one game at a time. I studied myself and I studied the opposition. In life, sports and politics, you constantly have to work at getting better. My offense coordinator and head coach 14 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

Barry Switzer would tell you J.C. Watts was a better quarterback in the 11th game of the season than at the start of the season.” Quoting Muhammad Ali, Watts said, “If you are the same man at 50 as you were at 20, you wasted 30 years. We all strive to become better athletes, coaches and people. You don’t make America great again without working on J.C. Watts. You peel the onion back one layer at a time.” Watts doesn’t hold anything back when talking about the human condition. He’s upfront and blunt. “We all are dysfunctional,” he said. “In church last Sunday, the pastor was talking about life’s challenges. I told my wife, ‘Even as church folks we are still dysfunctional. Life is still going to happen. Families, no matter where they come from, are hit with difficulties. Kids aren’t off limits to making bad choices. Whether you live in the ivory tower or the bleachers, life is going to happen to all of us. What separates us is how we respond.”

Specifically, Watts writes in the book about the Oklahoma Corporation Commission scandal in the early 1990s and how his name was unjustly connected to it. Watts writes that Oklahoma news organizations tried unsuccessfully to link him to a FBI probe that eventually sent two men to prison for bribery, including one former corporation commissioner and one high-ranking employee at the former Southwestern Bell. “You see, although this season of my life was unbelievably frustrating and hard, I came through it. In fact, I came through it stronger, wiser and with an enlarged capacity to lead, love and live,” he wrote in ‘Dig Deep.’” “I learned things. I grew. Looking back, I choose not to view this experience as something that was done to me. Rather I’ve come to view it as something that was done for me. I don’t think I would have accomplished half of what I’ve done over the past 20 years without that trial and testing. It prepared me to walk in my destiny.” Switching back to sports, Watts said in his interview with that this year’s version of the OU Sooners is a “great analogy” in dealing with adversity. “People had written them off. The conventional wisdom crowd was saying they could lose four or five games. They’re 1-2 with a lot of injuries. They’re putting makeshift defenses on the field.

J.C. Watts, keynote speaker at the 2016 Next Gen Awards program.

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J. C. Watts and Barry Switzer listen to a speaker at the Next Gen Awards.

Then they win nine straight. This is a perfect example of how life is. You can’t say we’re 1-2 and life is over. You say, ‘what can we do to turn things around.’ It’s one game at a time.” Speaking about his past athletic experiences, Watts said teamwork allows “common people to do uncommon things.” Watts, the son of a rural pastor from Eufaula, grew up knowing about difficulties, ranging from racism in Oklahoma’s Little Dixie to being the first of two black students to attend Jefferson Davis Elementary. The school was named after the president of the Confederacy. “In many respects – culture, economy, attitudes and politics –

southeastern Oklahoma had more in common with rural Mississippi than with oil-rich Tulsa or the bustling western cow town Oklahoma City,” he wrote in the book. “Trust me, I know what it is to be despised, opposed and obscure.” Decades later, Watts discovered fortune on many levels including that of national politics where he eventually assumed the role as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party. In that capacity, Watts provided daily counsel to the Speaker of the House and participated in bi-weekly meetings with the president. Watts served eight years as a U.S. congressman.

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“I gained great wisdom in the political arena,” he said in the phone interview. “It shaped me with a resolve that made me a better elected official. Trials like I had shouldn’t make us bitter. They should make us better. My dad used to say, ‘keep living.’” Now that he’s out of politics, Watts spends his time with public speaking engagements, preaching and operating John Deere stores. He moved from Washington, D.C., to Norman in mid-August. “Dig Deep” is available at Barnes & Noble Bookstores, Walmart and Amazon. Watts has conducted more than 100 interviews since the book was published in March. n

BUSINESS Skirvin Hotel celebrating 10th anniversary of reopening ‘Great Lady’ has served OKC since 1911 BY SANDI DAVIS

“Remember…What may be your ordinary day, can be someone’s extraordinary day. — Greg Marcus, former President and CEO of Marcus Hotels and Resorts, co-owners of The Skirvin Hotel.


ince 2007 the Skirvin Hilton has reigned as the great lady of the burgeoning Oklahoma City hotel scene.

Its storied history goes back to 1909 when oilman Bill Skirvin hired architect Solomon Layton to build a grand hotel south of the Frisco Depot. The 10-floor hotel with two wings opened for business in 1911. It featured granite floors and tiled walls, all accented with his daughter Pearl’s favorite color – red.

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Above, Mayor Mick Cornett and other civic leaders cut the ribbon at the Skirvin Anniversary celebration. Right, Skirvin employees participate in the celebration.

The wallpaper, drapery and a piano in the lobby were red. Both guests and Pearl were frequent performers on the piano. Later, Pearl Skirvin would marry George Mesta, change the spelling of her name to Perle and take her flair for receptions and parties from Oklahoma City to Washington, D.C. to Newport, R.I. and throughout Europe, getting the nickname “The Hostess with the Mostest” along the way. Back in Oklahoma City, Skirvin added a third wing and more floors to the other wings in the 1920s, giving it the look it has today. The hotel weathered the Great Depression and all the ups and downs in Oklahoma City’s economy until it finally closed its doors in 1986. It came perilously close to demolition several times. Its reawakening began in 1999 when then Mayor Kirk Humphries used the city’s support and tax credits to make the property attractive to buyers and the hotel reopened in 2007 with all its elegance restored. The Skirvin Hilton is now owned by Marcus Hotels and Resorts, based in Milwaukee, Wis., and the Skirvin

Partners in Development and is part of the Hilton Hotel franchise. Susan Riley, marketing and sales coordinator for the hotel also works with social media and public relations outreach. She has been planning a month full of events in February 2017 to celebrate the Skirvin’s tenth anniversary of its reopening and its 106 years as a hotel. “We are celebrating the extraordinary days,” Riley said, seated just outside the hotel’s grill, near the red and gold lobby. “Every day is someone’s extraordinary day.” Riley is especially proud of the hotel, because she was part of the original team that opened the hotel in 2007. Readying for its extraordinary decade celebration, the Skirvin has just had a $4.3 million renovation. Besides new mattresses, box springs and carpeting in guest DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 19

rooms, the corridors on each floor have been updated, and the lobby and the bar have been redesigned. Except for a patch of original tile by the door, the flooring has been replaced with marble and granite. It goes well with the original patterned tile on the walls, which accents all the red – a salute to Perle Mesta’s favorite color – in the lobby area and the newly renovated Red Piano Bar. The lobby has been opened up. Comfortable chairs are placed throughout so waiting, or just people watching, can be relaxing. For those who want a bit of the Skirvin for their own, or those looking for a unique Christmas gift, a few of the original floor tiles are still available for sale for $50. For those wanting a bit more, combine the tile with a book detailing the history of the Skirvin for $100. All of the money made from selling the tiles and the books go to Positive Tomorrows, the only elementary school for homeless children. Along with the new look of the hotel, the Skirvin has a new executive chef. Aaron Miles comes to Oklahoma after working throughout the United States. “I really like it here,” Miles said as he stopped by for introductions. “The people here are so nice.” Top, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Lopez with Mr. and Mrs. Jim Couch. Left. Guests at the Skirvin buffet. Lower left, Jim Couch and guest. Below, the pianist plays at the red piano.

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Skirvin recently had a $4.3 million renovation. The interior has new marble and granite flooring, art, and elegant lighting.

Those looking for a unique Christmas gift, a few of the original floor tiles are still available for sale for $50. Or combine the tile with a book detailing the history of the Skirvin for $100. DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 21

Skirvin employees gather in front of the Skirvin..

Anyone wanting to get into the holiday spirit should check out a few events this month. “Breakfast with Santa” is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 17 in the hotel’s events space. The breakfast buffet is $24.95 for adults and $15.95 for children. Santa and Mrs. Claus and several of the elves will be visiting and will be happy to have their pictures taken. Reservations are required. Christmas Eve and Christmas Night the Park Avenue Grill will have a three course Prix Fixe Menu from 5 to 9 p.m. for $39.95 per person. Christmas Day the Grill will have both a breakfast buffet and a three course lunch menu. The Christmas Day Buffet from 11

a.m. to 2 p.m. is $49.95 for adults and $19.95 for children ages three through 10. There will be live entertainment and reservations are required. Have visitors coming in for the holidays? The Skirvin has a “Cowboy Christmas Special.” For $159, guests get a room plus two tickets to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center. New Year’s Eve, make reservations for the three course “Prelude to Victory” menu from 5 to 7 p.m. before the Thunder game for $30 a person. Not going to the game? Make reservations for the four course Prix Fixe Menu from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s $75 a person. Of course, the Red Piano Bar will

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be open during all this serving the bar menu and featuring live entertainment. “The Skirvin is a great place to start or finish your New Year’s Eve” Riley said. “It’s a short walk to all the Opening Night activities.” New Year’s Day, Park Avenue Grill will have its Signature Breakfast Buffet from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To make reservations or for more information, call (405) 702-8444. For room reservations or information online, visit The hotel has a Facebook page at The Skirvin Hotel, or follow it on Twitter @SkirvinHiltonOK. n

BUSINESS CEO Funk makes major announcement Express employees to receive $5,000 for dependent care services


s a young mother whose child has lifethreatening food allergies, Heather Koontz of Oklahoma City worries daily about child care for her 17-month-old son, Russell. She and her husband, Byron, have opted for child care that is better equipped to care for kids with food allergies, which brings them piece of mind but comes at a higher price. The Koontz family is not alone in tackling the high price of dependent care. According to Child Care Aware of America, the annual cost of infant care in Oklahoma is $6,788. Oklahoma families on average pay 9.8 percent of the household income, compared to a single parent who pays nearly a third, 32.9 percent, for this type of care. Additionally, the organization reports that annual infant care in the Sooner state costs nearly as much as a year of public college tuition. With child care and dependent care costs skyrocketing, Heather teared up when she heard that the CEO of the company she works for came up with a unique plan to help offset these out-of-control costs for its employees. Heather is a senior writer at Express Employment Professionals.

Bob Funk Announces Unique Program Express CEO and chairman of the board, Bob Funk, announced in November his intentions to help offset the rising cost of health care to young families by offering regular fulltime corporate employees up to $5,000 per dependent annually to help pay for dependent care services. “Russell’s food allergies require constant monitoring and constant care,” Heather said. “The news is a big deal for my family. For me, it gives me hope that my son will be in a safer, 24 ion Oklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

Express national sourcing specialist Floyd Brown, right, thanks Bob Funk, CEO of Express, for the new $5,000 child care benefit program. As a father of four, child care is always a concern to Brown because the cost often outweighs the benefits.

healthier place because I can now afford higher quality care for him, and I don’t have to worry every month that we will have outrageous medical costs. We can store the extra income for the extremely pricy EpiPens.” “This unique program could be a life changer,” Funk said. “Cost for child care is expensive and oppressive. It is becoming more and more difficult for parents and single parents to keep up with these ever-increasing costs. We want to ease that financial burden for our employees.” Express currently offers headquarters employees a flexible spending account (FSA) where they can put money into the account for child care on a pre-tax basis. This program will work like the FSA, where the employee will submit receipts for reimbursement. However, Express will pay for the reimbursement.

Bob Funk makes an announcement at press conference.

No Other Company in the State Offers This Type of Plan “Our HR staff called about 80 small, medium and large companies in Oklahoma and to our knowledge, no other company in the state provides this type of plan,” Funk said. “Most companies we talked to offer child care under the pretax cafeteria plan and a couple of employers offer on-site daycare.” “The real cost of dependent care is much greater than the current tax code permits on a pre-tax basis,” said Jerry Edwards of Precision Administrators, Inc., who will be administering this innovative benefit program. “In our 39 years of administering benefits, I must say this is cuttingedge both from an employee benefit perspective and from a perspective of simply caring for employees and expressing an earnest desire to provide assistance over and above the recognized benefit found in today’s Cafeteria Plan legislation.” “We have incredible team members at our international headquarters helping ensure our franchisees are successful in matching job seekers and employers,” Funk said. “As a staffing company, we know how difficult it is to attract and retain valuable employees. This benefit is another way we can show value to our corporate employees; another way we can take care of our Express family.” Express has more than 770 offices in the U.S., Canada and South Africa, including 30 locations in Oklahoma, and is committed to the vision of helping as many people as possible find good jobs by helping as many clients as possible find good people. The international headquarters is based in Oklahoma City and employs 247 staff members. “I commend Express Employment Professionals for stepping

up to the plate and providing a generous child care benefit program for their employees,” said Governor Mary Fallin. “I appreciate the strong commitment Express Employment Professionals has made to Oklahoma and its employees. It is critical to invest in our workforce to ensure a robust economy and a prosperous Oklahoma.” “Bob has created a culture of caring and family at Express,” said Sam Fox, director of compensation and benefits. “His heart was heavy about how expensive child care is and he wanted to do something about it for his employees. So he did.” “Honestly, it could change lives, mine included,” Heather said. “Young people don’t have copious amounts of money, and I was thinking of other people in tight financial situations and how this benefit is going to help them. I think it shows that Bob means what he says when he talks about Express being an avenue of hope for people. He really does want to help people and give them hope.”

Health Check Screening Program In addition to offering the dependent care program, the staffing company announced a new health check screening program that includes an annual full body scan for headquarters employees age 45 and older, as well as virtual colonoscopies for employees age 50 and older every five years. Express Employment Professionals has a long-term goal to put a million people to work annually. With the international headquarters based in Oklahoma City, Express put a record 500,002 people to work in 2015 in a variety of industries. Express provides expertise in evaluation hire, temporary staffing, professional search and human resources. n

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More than 50 years later, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful going strong Anti-litter campaigns available for schools, communities BY SANDI DAVIS


n a small office in a northwest Oklahoma City office park, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful makes big things happen.

Celebrating just over 50 years in operation, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s mission is not just to clean roadsides and plant flowers, but to teach everyone the importance of recycling and how it benefits everyone. The now non-profit has gone through many incarnations while always keeping its mission on point. 26 ion Oklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

Gov. Henry Bellman founded it in April, 1965, because First Lady Shirley Bellman took on a roadside beautification project. Her goal was not just to clean roadsides of trash and debris, but to go a step further. She wanted to plant wildflowers, perhaps following the plan First Lady Ladybird Johnson started in Washington, D.C., earlier that year. Ladybird Johnson wanted “masses of flowers where masses pass.” The first iteration of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful was created under the Highway Department and it still operates today with help from the Oklahoma Department of

Left,Okeene Historic Preservation Group received recognition as a finalist. Below, guests examine items available in the auction.

and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment,” said Executive Director Jeanette Nance in an interview on a chilly December afternoon. She lights up talking about the many and varied programs she and her staff oversee. The biggest event is part of the Great American Clean Up, the nation’s largest annual cleanup, beautification and community improvement program. KOB is one of only four Keep America Beautiful affiliates with 100 percent county participation, and Oklahoma has done it seven years in a row. More than 55,000 volunteers and participants cleaned and fixed up places and planted flowers to spruce up communities across the state. Any group that volunteers to do roadside cleanup receives free trash bags, water, safety vests and gloves. While all the work done is nice, the bottom line is the event, which runs from March to May. The event saved the state government $6.5 million, and people picked up 200 million pounds of litter. Registration for the 2017 Great American Clean Up started Dec. 14. Transportation (ODOT) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It always was, and will be, a part of Keep America Beautiful. At one point, KOB, as it’s known, existed in the offices of Governor George Nigh with help from his wife, First Lady Donna Nigh. There are eight boxes of letters and other paperwork from KOB’s time in his office, and it stayed, operated by the governor’s staff, until it could operate as a non-profit with offices outside government buildings. Today, the staff of three helps people, towns and cities do some amazing projects that promote a variety of programs all designed to make Oklahoma more a more beautiful place to live, and they do it funded by contributions, grants and performance contracts with corporate partners and state agencies. Like most non-profits, they have a board of directors made up of volunteers who guide their programs. “KOB’s mission is to empower Oklahoma citizens to preserve DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 27

Attendees look at items they can bid on in the event auction.

One of their programs came about when a business owner noticed something while driving through the state. “Free Paint Days” was created when Joe Cox would drive down Main Streets in various towns and thought a few buildings could use a coat of paint. Cox owns HIS Paint. A plan formed and he came to KOB with an idea. He would donate paint to towns for buildings that needed a little facelift. The paints he donates are surplus, or ones returned, and he can have them mixed to make a variety of colors. Both public and private buildings are eligible, but the privately owned buildings must be used for public events. They must be on a frequently traveled highways or on Main Street. A town can apply to receive up to 20 gallons of paint. If approved, PSO will give them a small stipend to use for supplies. “Joe goes through every application himself,” Nance said. “They send in a

‘Before’ picture of the property before, and one ‘After.’ The end of the year, Cox selects his top three buildings and we put those up on our website and the public can vote on them. “The winner gets $1,000, second place gets $750 and third place gets $250.” The real creative events are those involving children from elementary, middle and high schools. Nance smiles as she tells how she

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came up with the “UnCapped” program and keeps smiling as she tells the tale. “I was looking for a way to develop an education outreach program for elementary and middle school aged children,” she recalled. “With a staff of three for 77 counties, it had to be something that would make a difference, but it also must be easy.” She got her answer when she walked inside Mayflower Congregational Church. “On the wall were huge pictures made from former bottle caps,” she said. “I knew it would work.” Elementary school children can compete in the “UnCapped” program. Fourth and fifth graders are able to create a mural using bottle caps, and the entire class writes an essay on the harmful effects of trash and littering. “Do Your Art” is aimed for 7th and 8th graders and is an upcycle project where students create a piece of art using recyclable materials. These students also must turn in a class-collaborative essay discussing what was learned

Auction items at Keep Oklahoma Beautiful function have become extremely popular.

about landfills. “We hope, as part of the project, students visit their local landfills to learn what fills them up and how to stop that,” Nancy elaborated. The top three entries in each project are posted online and again the public can vote on their favorite. The winning class gets a pizza party hosted by Nance and Mike Patterson, director of ODOT. High School and college students do the same projects, but are judged separately on the intensely creative job. “End Litter” asks students, alone or in groups, to make a 25 to 40 second video

clip that tackles the litter issues and illegal dumping. “They are judged separately because it isn’t fair to judge the creation of high school freshmen with college seniors,” Nance explained. Again, the top three projects are put online for public voting and the winning video in each category wins $750. This contest is going on now and online voting for the videos starts at the beginning of February. If a company is interested in recycling, they can apply for a “Lend a Bin” from KOB. Supplied by PepsiCo, the free blue bin is for cans and plastic only. Each

time the bin is emptied at a recycling center, the company can let KOB know how much was in the bin. It adds up. This year more than 40,000 pounds of plastic and aluminum cans have been recycled. By making children aware of the problem litter can have, as they grow up they become more aware of recycling and its benefits for their community. Cities and towns can apply to be a DEQ Clean Community. This award recognizes cities that participate, cooperate and/or collaborate in cleaning up tire dumps, implementing measures to stop illegal tire dumping and to encourage good environmental stewardship through service projects. For towns and cities that would like more training, they can join KOB’s Affiliate Program. For $150 a year they receive a by-monthly newsletter, chances to network with other Affiliate cities, have speakers come to their town and come to Oklahoma City once a year for an Affiliates-only workshop and an afternoon of socializing and networking with other members. The biggest event of KOB’s year is their “Environmental Excellence Celebration” awards and recognition banquet, held each November. The event gives the staff a chance to recognize outstanding projects and volunteers and to show everyone KOB’s accomplishments. For more information call KOB at (405) 286-9141 or check out its extensive website at n

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ART Suzanne Mears: Glass Artist BY TIM FARLEY


klahoma artist Suzanne Mears didn’t give much thought to glass art, but then one day she woke up.

Literally, she opened her eyes one morning in 2002 and thought “this is what I will do,” she recalled. From that point, she pursued her work with glass and she’s never looked back. The methods to her madness depend if she’s working for a client or designing a piece for herself. When Mears is working for herself, she manufactures

Aqua Seas Kiln formed glass, 17"h x 15" x 12"w

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whimsical totems which have proven to be “good sellers” at the gallery. “All of them have names,” she said. “That defines the fun. For me, glass has been very fun.” When she’s working for a client, the final products are typically large structural pieces. The difference between the structural artwork and the totems keeps life interesting, she said, admitting it can be a challenge, which is something Mears thrives on. “When you’re selling your work it’s easy to get trapped into a

Tropicana - Kiln formed glass, 24"h x 10"w x 6"deep.

particular pattern. You don’t expand your vision,” she said. It typically takes Mears two pots of coffee, a quick trip through the TV news channels and a look at her emails for the vision to crank up each day. “After all of that, I go into the studio and get started. Once you get in there and get your hand wet, it’s on,” she said. “You lose all track of time.” The medium she works with is considered warm glass, which reaches temperatures of 1,100 to 1,700 degrees. With five kilns in her studio, Mears uses all of them for different purposes. Unlike other art forms, imperfections in glass can be rectified or totally changed by creating a new piece of work. “You can take what you have, melt it down, use another mold and turn it into a different piece,” she said. “You never get bored with this stuff.” While she’s being creative, Mears also takes safety precautions when working. “If you fall with this stuff, it can be dangerous,” she said, a reference to the extreme temperatures used when creating glass masterpieces. “I love working with kiln formed glass for the technological challenge of mastering kiln firing, the complexity of the medium and the never ending possibilities of design, color and theme,” she wrote on her web site, “The joy of glass is the light which plays through the piece. As the time of day changes so does the art. It never stays exactly the same. It’s a delightful, challenging dance.” Working with glass is a tedious process that can take hours of labor. The process involves cutting the glass, putting it together and forming the design. The glass is later put into the kiln and may stay for various amounts of time, ranging from eight to 40 hours depending on the project. But don’t think Mears leaves the studio and watches afternoon soap operas or goes shopping at the local mall. She’s also a painter with a unique technique that doesn’t include brushes, but rather her hands. “Glass is active and is all about colors whereas paintings give me peace and tranquility,” she said, comparing the two art forms. Currently, her paintings are geared toward atmospheric landscapes. Using her hands instead of brushes, she works with a limited palette. The work she creates is based on memories, fantasy and freedom, said Mears, who was born

Overlook - Oil and gold powders on canvas, 30" x 30"Oil paint colors used: Raw light ochre (Norma), Permanent Alizarim deep permanent (Sennelier), Crimson Lake (Sennelier), Antique Red (Sennelier), Venetian Red Earth (d'IOtalia), French Ardoise Grey (Williamsburg), Warm Grey (Sennelier), Cobalt Violet Deep (Williamsburg) VanDyke Brown (Windsor Newton), Cold Wax Medium (Williamsburg), Liquin, Gold powders, Camsol.

Sunset Magic - Oil and Gold powders on canvas, 30" x 30"

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and educated in Iowa, later used a decade of global travel to develop a diary of ideas for her artwork. “When I paint, I always have something in mind,” she said. “I choose the colors and squeeze the paint out of the tubes onto the canvas.” She mixes in cold wax with the paint and allows it to soak onto the canvas while she works. After she’s finished, turpentine or mineral spirits is applied and allowed to dry overnight. “If I love what I created then I leave it alone,” Mears said. “If I don’t, I create a whole new painting. I may let it percolate for a couple of days, play with it some more and create a certain landscape mood. If I can’t get it I keep working until I do get it.” Blue Glace' - Kiln formed glass sculpture, 12"h x 17"-14"w. Gold Showers - Oil with gold powders on canvas, 60" x 60", 9500

Arabian Nights - Kiln formed glass sculpture on repurposed steel base, 16"h.

Apparently, Mears has made it work more often than not. Her work is collected and placed in private collections around the world. Mears’ creations have been purchased by buyers in Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Mexico and St. Croix. Currently, Mears’ work is in the Joseph Gierek Fine Art gallery in Tulsa, Howell Gallery in Oklahoma City, Pippin Contemporary gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., G Glass Gallery in Guthrie and Pez Gordo Gallery in Los Cabos, Baja Mexico. Born and educated in Iowa, Mears moved to Oklahoma in the 1970s, but it was a decade of traveling during the 1980s that gave her the genesis for her future creations. During those years, she traveled in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Crete, Nepal, Tibet, China and Africa, according to her web site biography. In the 1990s, she lived in San Francisco for several years and later moved to the Colorado mountains before returning to Oklahoma City to make it her home base. n

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The Bestselling Book by Kent Frates

Oklahoma’s Most Notorious Cases Six cases that remain the talk of the courtroom Oklahoma has had more than its share of sensational legal battles with national ramifications, but for the first time in one volume, attorney/historian Kent Frates reveals the facts behind six cases that helped shape the history of the state—and the nation. From bloody murders, to political scandal, to the horrific act of domestic terrorism known as the Oklahoma City Bombing, OKLAHOMA’S MOST NOTORIOUS CASES captures the stories, the times, and the import of these landmark trials.

Read the book that inspired the serial podcast We Will Always Remember ( | weekly Feb. 12 to April 23) www.

Order now by visiting

or calling toll free 877.536.7634


$24 Includes 16 pages of historic photos!

available at Full Circle Bookstore, OKC Best of Books, Edmond The Bookseller, Ardmore The Book Place, Broken Arrow and Barnes & Noble

ART “Birds and Beyond” A Perfect Gift for Bird Lovers BY M. J. VAN DEVENTER


aurice R. Bebb was a florist in Muskogee for 38 years until he discovered the magic of birds. Then, his life was never the same. It is fair to say he flew the coop of his popular downtown flower shop in 1951 and devoted his life to creating intricately detailed etchings of the birds and flowers he loved. Bebb inherited an interest in botany from his father, Robert Bebb, who founded Bebb’s Floral Company in 1910 in Muskogee. When he died in 1942, 30,000 of his floral specimens were donated to the University of Oklahoma where the Robert Bebb Herbarium is named in his honor. Maurice attended the University of Illinois and was the first person in the United States to receive a degree in floriculture. Following graduation in 1913, he returned to Muskogee to work in his father’s business. Maurice died in 1986 at the age of 95. His legacy is a beautiful new book, “Birds & Beyond ~ The Prints of Maurice R. Bebb.” It’s one of those gorgeous books ~ a catalogue raisonne — you want everyone to see on your coffee table. To say it’s exquisite is an understatement. It is the ultimate Christmas gift for those who love birds and the art of this fascinating species. Bebb was quoted posthumously in a recent

Meadowlark, 1962. Images copyright the Estate of Maurice R. Bebb. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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remind him which inks he used and which plates should be printed first or second,” Harbison said. “I especially remember the joy Mr. Bebb had for printmaking and how he was still working until a day or two before he died.” Having grown up in Muskogee during Bebb’s early etching days, I remember well Mr. Bebb’s fame because my mother was one of Bebbs’ competing florists. She greatly admired his talent and often said, “To own a Bebb print you can consider yourself a nature art connoiseur. “ My mother had one print: Pintail Duck, 1966. I coveted it. My younger sister got it in the distribution of my mother’s small estate. My sister found another print: Red-Eyed Vireos, 1963 for $5 at an estate sale. I was so grateful when Joy Reed Belt, owner of JRB Art at the Elms in Oklahoma City, gave me Maurice Bebb looks at his work. Photo courtesy of The Muskogee Phoenix. one of Bebb’s engravings, Indigo Bunting, as a thank you for Muskogee Phoenix article saying, “I wanted to draw and paint for years and years before I had the nerve to dirty a piece of paper.” Now, his book is being gift-wrapped in elegant tissue and ribbons as a perfect Christmas present for those fascinated by birds. The year 1951 was a pivotal turning point in Bebb’s life. He retired at age 60, turned his business over to a son and grandson and then, he flew in a new direction. He had no formal training for the retirement flight path he chose. With no knowledge of artistic etching, he forged his own route. He flew solo in printmaking, creating his own distinctive style of this intricate art form. Jim Harbison, a native of Muskogee who studied printmaking with Bebb and then began collecting his art, said even though Bebb had no formal training for the arduous process of multi-layered printmaking, he established a national reputation as an exceptional etcher. Bebb is quoted in the book as saying, “This is not a process for anyone in a hurry.” “Bebb worked tirelessly for four decades, creating more than 200 subjects, printing most of them in editions of 150 prints. He enjoyed the process of creating each print, Belted Kingfisher, 1954. Images copyright the Estate of Maurice R. Bebb. Used with keeping detailed notes on each piece to permission. All rights reserved. DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 35

Bebb on porch. Photo courtesy of The Muskogee Phoenix.

some writing assignments I did for her. Bebb achieved national and international recognition for his bird, landscape and travel prints during his lifetime. He embraced the rigorous art of printmaking with a childlike enthusiasm. He was so eager to learn all he could, while developing his own unique methods for printmaking. He began collecting bird prints in 1931, when he was a member of the Prairie Print Makers. He began etching plates in 1943 while World War II was still raging and art trends were shifting rapidly. He had his first show in 1949, two years before committing the rest of his life to printmaking. In the book, Bebb is quoted as saying, “Upon my retirement I had enough saved so I have never needed the income from my etchings. I gave it all to my married daughters. I don’t know why I work so hard at age 88 but I think it is mostly because I enjoy having people like my art ~ buy it and hang it. Perhaps it is just that I was trained to work and can’t stop.” He was a prolific and passionate printmaker, in spite of numerous health challenges ~ a heart condition and bone cancer. His art was never about money. His widow. Kappa, once said, “His ability to sketch came as natural as breathing. He was a fascinating man and I would not have missed him for the world.” Bebb gained international fame as a printmaker, far beyond 36 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

the panhandle- shaped boundaries of Oklahoma. No doubt, he would be surprised today about the value of his etchings. During his second career as a printmaker, he first painted local scenes, like his two-story home at 1234 Fondulac, once a prestigious address. He took his talent well beyond Oklahoma, sketching birds in Minnesota, where the Bebbs had a summer home, Colorado, Arkansas, Massachusetts, the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and the Buckhorn Inn of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Europe beckoned, too. He visited and sketched his subjects in villages in Switzerland, England, Germany, Italy, Scotland, France, Sweden, Spain, Elba, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea and Tawelfen, Wales, considered to be the ancestral Bebb home. Bebb participated in most of the important print societies of his day, including the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Print Makers Society of California, the Society of American Etchers and the Prairie Print Makers. All of these societies hosted exhibitions and distributed their members’ work around the country. Their work influenced a dramatic rise in the art of printmaking in early 20th Century America, according to Cori Sherman North, curator at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas. Pomegranate Media published the catalog raisonne in conjunction with an exhibition of Bebb’s art at the Birger Sandzen, which closed Oct. 31. Ron Michael, the Birger Sandzen Gallery Director, notes in the book’s foreword: “When I first viewed Bebbs’ prints, I was especially taken with his keen bird imagery. They transported me back to the days of leafing through Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification with my grandparents. What the field guide identified for me, Bebb has brought to life and made art.” WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK The book is available through Amazon or local book stores. Pomegrantae Media plans a series of note cards and calendars for 2017-2018 featuring Bebb’s art. His prints are currently available online at

ART American Indian female artists’ work showcased Paintings, drawings and ceramics by well-known American Indian female artists are being showcased through Feb. 28 at three separate locations in Oklahoma. “Vivid: A Showcase of American Indian Female Artists” features artwork from MaryBeth Timothy, Rhonda E. Williams, America Meredith, Anita Fields, April Holder and Melissa Melero-Moose. Their work is powerful and strong, embracing the centuries-old tradition of American Indian women creating visual art intertwined with spirituality, life, culture and beauty.

Exhibit C, Oklahoma City America Meredith has exhibited her paintings internationally and has work in major public collections including those of the National Museum of the American Indian and Cherokee National Historical Society. As a member of the Cherokee Nation, she’s inspired by the native language and oral history, medieval European illuminated manuscripts and TV cartoons of her youth. Anita Fields, a member of the Osage Nation, is a published artist with exhibits both nationally and internationally. Her work incorporates the use of textures and abstracted traditional patterns to form a symbolic representation of cultural memory and ideology. April Holder was surrounded by creativity while growing up. Her paintings are influenced by her mother’s beadwork, her uncle’s draftsmanship and the traditional talents of her grandmother. She works with a variety of mixed media, including thread and fabrics, and has been featured in distinguished art shows throughout the U.S. Melissa Melero-Moose is a mixed-media visual artist and a Northern

Top, “Woman Corn” by Anita Fields. Above, “Cedar and Willow” by Melissa Melero-Moose.

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Paiute enrolled with the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. She grew up surrounded by artisan family members in Nevada and California, from painters to beadwork artists, taking inspiration from all mediums. Her award-winning work closely integrates nature, landscape and personal experience.

Chickasaw Visitor Center, Sulphur

Clockwise from above: “Medicine Bird” by MaryBeth Timothy, “Josephine” by America Meredith, “Ah Piece” by April Holder, and “Graceful Flight” by Rhonda E. Williams

MaryBeth Timothy, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, finds inspiration from her love of nature and her heritage to create award-winning multimedia art pieces. Passionate about helping to preserve her native culture through art, Timothy loves to paint both traditional and contemporary images that tell a story.

Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center, Davis Rhonda E. Williams is an awardwinning artist from the Otoe Missouria Tribe. She developed her distinctive artistic style by contrasting tribal designs and various contemporary art forms. Her paintings often incorporate acrylics, clay, bone beads, horse hair and various other textures. For more information on Native American art exhibits and locations, go to

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PEOPLE Helen Ford Wallace The Ultimate Party Girl BY M. J. VAN DEVENTER


elen Ford Wallace never met a party she didn’t like. She’s also never attended a bad party. In her social vocabulary, there’s no such thing.

She’s best known for her portrayals of parties in Oklahoma City that range from private dinner parties to large gala events that benefit local charities. Her “Parties Extra” column in The Oklahoman reflects the social history and entertaining trends of Oklahoma Cityans. “I love the party beat because Oklahoma people are so happy and kind and have great stories to tell about parties,” she says. Helen has made a fabulous career of attending parties. She started working for The Oklahoman as a teen correspondent, covering high school social events. Actually, her mother made an early impact on her about gracious entertaining. “She always cut flowers from her garden to use as centerpieces for her events. I grew up as an only child and often went to adult parties with my parents,” she recalls. She began working full time for the paper in 1962, as a writer in the women’s section, then headed by Joan Gilmore, who also loves parties. “She sent me to a couple of parties to write about and it was fun,” Helen notes, and as they say, the rest is history. Helen Ford Wallace with Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, at Oklahoma Hall of Fame banquet.

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Judi Feyer and Helen Ford Wallace at the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in October.

“When I started attending parties with great themes, I got ideas for my own parties when I saw what other people were doing. That’s why I often include menus and flower arrangement details in my stories, just in case it might help someone with their planning,” she adds. Her party coverage expanded in 1978, when she started writing about Oklahoma City events and some state parties. “I’ve never stopped doing that,” she notes, crediting Kelly Dyer Fry, the Oklahoman editor, and Matt Price, features editor, as great people to work for because they love a great party, too. What makes a great party? Helen believes good parties require thoughtful hostesses who are committed to seeing that their guests are comfortable. “That means the guests meet other

people at the party, enjoy the food and drink and get to have a good time with the people who invited them.” Helen also believes “Oklahomans have a special flair for entertaining. They use their genuine personalities to welcome people to their parties. They have a knack for making their guests feel special and be glad you’ve arrived.”

All the holidays, especially Christmas, provide excellent themes and decorations but Helen is partial to February 14, Valentine’s Day. She says, “I think that day provides so much in the way of hearts and flowers for a party. Hearts can be on invitations, all over the house, in the centerpiece and on food trays.” She fondly remembers her favorite party as the Larry Nichols Beaux Arts Ball King Party. “Polly and Larry lit up the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. Everything was lighted ~ the dance floor, the table bases, centerpieces, even the drink glasses and ice cubes. It made me happy to see all those lights,” she says. Having covered parties for more than half a century, she has witnessed many changes on the party circuit. “The themes are more refined now,”

Helen Ford Wallace and Justin Edwards and Genea Vallion from Trochta’s Flowers and Green Houses at The Oklahoman’s video studio for a Parties Extra! web cast.

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she notes. “Hosts spend a lot of time Chickasaw Nation’s Te Ata movie at the thinking of the perfect theme for the Warren Theater in Moore. The other was bride, the birthday person or the a party in Wheeler Park, hosted by honoree. Flowers are still an integral Ludivine Restaurant and the Wheeler part of a theme and sometimes a floral District,” she notes. staff helps figure out the best and most creative flower arrangements. Many of the parties also incorporate music in some form ~ a piano player, full band, a trio or chamber music. That’s a nice touch.” Helen sees the theme as a great party asset, since it allows a hostess to add a lot of their decorating ideas. “I’ve also been to beautiful parties that didn’t have a theme and I enjoyed every minute of those, too,” she notes. Many of the non-profit events have a built-in Jose Freede and Joan Gilmore, seated, and Helen Ford Wallace, theme, such as the Annie Oakley Society luncheons at standing, at party. the National Cowboy & Western Heritage The Te Ata after-party featured the Museum. stars of the movie, including a beautiful “It is amazing the ways this group of spirit dog. The great decorations were women figure out a new theme each year Indian canoes with floral centerpieces that goes along with the western ideals and tall bamboo reeds, leaves and and people they are honoring. This year, wheat and an ice sculpture with the one of the honorees was the manager of Chickasaw Nation seal. Party favors the Mars Exploration Program and had a included a Bedre chocolate bar and a notable career at NASA. The theme hand-crafted drum made by the featured planets and silver spheres in Chickasaw artisans. The wrist bands, the floral centerpieces and a dessert of napkins, popcorn bags and cups cake balls and edible stars in a vanilla featured Te Ata’s name. Milky Way sauce,” she recalls. The Wheeler Park event featured a Helen has recently been to two ferris wheel ride during dinner. Chefs spectacular parties. cooked the four-course meal right next “One was the cast party after the to the ferris wheel so the food would be 42 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

served hot for the guests. Helen loved the 30’s style theme, including rum cocktails, jitterbugging on the dance floor, cocktail tables and velvet couches on the park grounds. Guests wore 30’s style fashions to complement the theme. What would be Helen’s perfect party if she were the host? It’s no surprise that Helen has accumulated a vast treasure of clippings and memories from parties past and present ~ a big box of stories she’s written that give her ideas for future parties. If she hosted the perfect party she says, “It would be at my home with lots of good food, drinks, flowers and music. There would be big party favors for everyone and people would be able to sit down and talk to all the guests around them.” In Helen’s party notebook, she says, “Any time you’re at a gathering of people, it feels like a party. People in Oklahoma City love to get together. We are blessed to be able to enjoy such companionship.” Just in case you’re watching your mailbox for an invitation to Helen’s perfect party or another social event, while you wait you can watch “Parties Extra” on NewsOK. Helen notes, “We have a weekly web cast where we interview people who are in charge of local events. They tell about the event and often share their own fascinating party stories. I love to hear about local people and their parties.” n


MaRK yOuR CalendaR for one of Oklahoma City’s favorite celebrations, Opening night, presented by MidFirst Bank and devon energy, as the city boasts a thrilling evening of music, comedy, magic, and fireworks to ring in the new year. In 2015, 75,000 people celebrated with some of the best talent in the state at Opening night. Opening Night 2017 is Saturday, Dec. 31 from 7 p.m. to midnight with exhilarating performances across four venues on six stages in downtown Oklahoma City.  The countdown to midnight will be at Bicentennial Park and will be loaded with entertainment from headliner David Bruster and The Walkabouts, a fun pop band influenced by the sounds and spirit of New Orleans. As the midnight hour approaches, revelers will enjoy a

special finale countdown complete with the traditional Opening Night ball and one of the state’s largest fireworks shows. The whole family will find something to enjoy at Opening Night. Children can create festive art projects in the Children’s Area now located inside the Civic Center Hall of Mirrors. Performers include some of Oklahoma’s best and brightest stars like Jabee, L.T.Z., Moetowne Alex and the Nightview Band, and Orquesta d’Calle. There’s more than music, as spectators can catch the unicycling antics of Michael King and laugh at the impromptu comedy of the OKC Improv group.  Before the festivities kick-off at 7 p.m., participate in the 4th annual Finale 5K presented by INTEGRIS. This festive

5K run will begin at 4 p.m. at the Finale site, starting at Colcord Drive in Bicentennial Park. All runners receive an Opening Night wristband and a chance to win original works of art. The most festively dressed runner will receive a prize as well. Early registration ends December 14 and is $30. An Opening Night wristband allows attendees into all the venues. Wristbands are $8 in advance or $10 at the event, with children five and under admitted free. Wristbands are available beginning December 1 at 7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma, MidFirst Bank locations, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and on Art Council Oklahoma City’s website.    Opening Night is produced by Arts Council Oklahoma City. Co-chairs are Kristy Boone and Tyler Bolton. n

BUSINESS First Liberty Bank Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Unitholders


irst liberty Bank gathered at Gaillardia Country Club earlier this fall for a 10th anniversary celebration.

Guests were treated to dinner, dancing and a photo booth at the Art Deco-themed event. Decorated in black and white and accented with silver glitter and feathers, the country club’s ballroom was dazzling for the 150 guests. Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Joey Root addressed the gathering and shared rarely-seen photos of the early beginnings of the bank. FLB is on the site of the original Jackie Cooper BMW dealership in The Village and in its earliest days created offices in the former showroom. Among the many notable guests and unitholders in 46 ion Oklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

Above, Bob Funk, Janine Regier, Barry Switzer, Becky Switzer with First Liberty Bank President & CEO Joey Root

attendance were bank founders Barry Switzer and Hunter Miller, as well as board member Bob Funk. Unable to attend was bank founder and entertainer Toby Keith. “I am really excited to be celebrating the tenth anniversary of First Liberty Bank. We are so proud of what our family of bankers has been able to accomplish together,” said Root. “We have something really special here and I think customers recognize that and want to be a part of it. We are grateful to our unitholders who have been on this journey with us, and providing them with an increasing return on a growing asset will remain a top priority.” n

Top left, First Liberty Bank guests Slater and Hunter Miller. Top right, First Liberty Bank Employees: Trevor Brooks, Ladye Hobson and Judy Williams. Photos provided by Kathy Bentley Above, Original First Liberty Bank Management Team: Tammy Boatman, Joey Root, Tammie Garrison and Sandy Bracken.

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TRAVEL La Fonda On the Plaza is the only hotel directly on Santa Fe’s famous plaza. It’s an easy walk to the open-air Native American art market or the many stores and art galleries and the famous Loreto Chapel.

La Fonda on the Plaza A look back in time combined with modern trends BY SANDI DAVIS


eave Oklahoma City, take an eight hour drive west and then north and you’ll find Santa Fe, n.M., tucked into the Sangre de Christo Mountains.

This scenic city is especially worth a look during Christmastime, when luminaria candles line Artist Road and The Plaza. The perfect place to stay, whatever the season, is La Fonda On the Plaza, a historic hotel full of rustic charm, great food and drinks and an art collection any museum would be proud to have. The whole city, actually, is full of art, especially American Indian Tribal art. Each day, tribal artists line up hoping to get a space on the side of the plaza reserved solely for them and their work. Their pieces are spread on rugs covering the ground, 48 ion Oklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

allowing collectors and tourists a chance to own their art, ranging from jewelry to exquisitely woven rugs in all price ranges. The other three sides of the square are full of art galleries, all sorts of high end stores plus a beloved Woolworths where you can get a Frito Chili Pie made in the Frito bag, T-shirts, hats, sundries and so much more, ground zero for tourists and residents alike who need something in a hurry. No matter how you find yourself in the plaza, make some time to visit La Fonda On the Plaza, walk the meandering hallways, stop in for a cup of coffee or a margarita and visit the many little shops inside the hotel. The hotel’s site goes back centuries. There are reports of an inn back in the 1600s, making its site the oldest hotel corner in America. In 1821, Capt. William Becknell completed the first

successful trading trip between Missouri to Santa Fe, the traders found a comfortable inn – or Fonda – on the plaza when they arrived. It then became part of the Santa Fe Trail. During this time it housed trappers, soldiers, gold seekers, gamblers and politicians, changing hands and names several times but always serving as a hotel. The current La Fonda was built in 1922. In 1925 the building was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, who leased it to hotelier Fred Harvey, who used the hotel as a celebrated Harvey House. The hotel we see today combines distinctive Old West traditions with contemporary luxury and a convenient location. La Fonda’s influences use the work of famed architects John Gaw Meem and Southwest architect and designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. It is a popular site for weddings, meetings and vacations. The hotel has a AAA Four Diamond rating and is a member of Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2015 it was added to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation’s Register of Properties Worthy of Preservation. It stayed a Harvey House until 1968, when the hotel was bought by local businessman Sam Ballen and his wife Ethel.

It 2014, longtime family friend and current Chairman of the Board, Jennifer Kimball purchased the hotel with her brother Philip Wise and investment firm Cienda Partners. In 2013 La Fonda On the Plaza finished its most significant room renovations since the 1920s. Detailed studies were made of the original building plans and the aesthetics of original designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. The new design keeps the feel of the original hotel while including fresh, modern touches. With the exception of the Terrace luxury rooms and suites, all guest rooms got new lighting, floor coverings and handcrafted furnishing, new energy efficient casement windows, state-of-the-art temperature controls and sound insulation, updated plumbing, electrical and communication systems. If you’re staying in the hotel, look at the way your bedstead is painted, the hangings in your rooms, but especially the art on the walls. Each piece of art is original, not only in your room, but throughout the hotel. La Fonda On the Plaza finished its three-tiered renovation in May with the updating of La Plazuela restaurant, the lobby and public spaces. In addition, two new handicap-accessible, family friendly restrooms were added on the first and second

La Plazuela Restaurant in La Fonda On the Plaza is a wonderful stop on any visit to Santa Fe. Its updated menu and custom Tequila brand combine make looking at the art surrounding the restaurant a wonderful way to relax. Also pay a visit to the bar which has been restored to its original horseshoe shape.

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Each bed headboard in the hotel is hand painted and are one-of-a-kind. The rooms at La Fonda on the Plaza also vary by the year they were added. A few rooms on the first floor go back to the days when the hotel was part of the Harvey House chain.

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floors. La Fonda’s art collection features some of the finest examples of New Mexican style throughout the hotel’s history. They are scattered throughout the hotel and the best way to see many of them is to book a free docent-led art tour through the concierge desk, Wednesdays through Sundays at 10:30 a.m. If you miss the tour, grab an art guide at the front desk or buy “In Every Room: A Story of the Art,” a book highlighting a few of the pieces and their stories. If you have a few hours and like tequila, try to book a bartender to give you a tasting lesson of the unique tequila served in the hotel. The Herradura Brand is still made in Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico, though it’s owned by U.S. beverage maker BrownForman. The bar serves several varieties of the tequila and will be happy to give you a tasting menu and let you decide what you’ll be using in your drinks from then until you leave. The hotel we see today combines distinctive Old West traditions with contemporary luxury and a convenient location. To keep your stay and the hotel fresh in your memories, or to share it with people who will enjoy it as well, or to fill out your Christmas shopping list, buy a copy of the hotel’s newest souvenir, the book, “La Fonda: Then and Now.” The book includes photographs of the hotel taken in the same places – interior and exterior — year after year, showing the changes, as well as images of the art hanging throughout La Fonda. Each chapter features a different contributing writer – each with a unique attachment to the hotel – who write essays about their favorite things, including the art, architecture, weddings and more. “La Fonda: Then and Now” is $55 and is a coffee table-sized book. To purchase the book, to make reservations or for more information, call (505) 988-1404 or (800) 523-5002. Check their website at n



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PRESTIGIOUS HONOR Artist in Residence at the Historic Skirvin BY M. J. VAN DEVENTER


hen Mike Wimmer reflects on the inspirations that led him to a highly successful career as an artist/ illustrator, he traces his early influences back to the books his mother provided for him to read.

“My mom taught me to read at an early age and I found escape in the stories and imagery,” Wimmer recalls. “But I wanted to create my own world and copied many of my favorite comic books and book illustrators. The only other career I had a dream of was to become a professional football player.” “I was deeply impressed with the classic adventure stories such as Treasure Island and especially those books with the illustrations of N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle, two of the nation’s best known illustrators,” he notes. The dream to be an artist prevailed throughout high school, where he excelled in both academics and athletics. By high school graduation, he knew he would study art in college. Recently, Wimmer was named the fifth Artist in Residence for the historic Skirvin-Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. It is a year-long honor that Wimmer says, “will open a new opportunity for me, being downtown with exposure to such a diversity of subject matter.” The artist for this honor is chosen by the Paseo Arts Association. It also will fulfill a desire Wimmer has dreamed of for quite a while. An Edmond resident, he says, “Driving into the city, one sees men and women on major street corners holding up signs for help. Many are in situations they did not plan on. Seeing their pleas for help with the willingness to work for that help led me to my own personal question: “what do I work for?” Wimmer notes, “I started asking friends and colleagues, and sometimes strangers, ‘what do they work for?’ He pondered the question: ‘what are we willing to sacrifice our precious time and talents for?’ So, he started a project where he’s painting people carrying all kinds of makeshift signs that state their personal sacrifices or needs. One sign truly touched Wimmer. It stated: “Will work to build a better future for my family.” It was written by a construction worker who moved to Oklahoma City

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Mike Wimmer in his studio.

from California after being a gang member. “Humanity has always been my favorite subject to paint. I am enamored with the expressions of the human face and the gestures of the human form,” Wimmer notes. As the Skirvin’s artist-in-residence, Wimmer says, “I’ know I’ll be in a fishbowl of sorts, with glass walls all around me so people can view me while I work. It’s a personal responsibility to always put my profession in a good light. I feel a professional responsibility to the Skirvin for giving me this opportunity and this stage to create my body of work.” As Wimmer discusses his artistic career, he recalls how he approached class assignments in junior high and high school by illustrating everything from math to history reports. Then, as a budding artist, he discovered the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in his hometown of Muskogee. 54 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

“I made numerous trips to see the incredible talent displayed there. It was my first opportunity to see artists I would one day become friends with ~Johnny Tiger, Enoch Kelly Haney, Benjamn Harjo and others.” He believes providence changed the direction of his career while he was attending the University of Oklahoma and majoring in art, a path his mother had suggested might be better served by a more practical choice ~ like law or medicine. He was a sophomore at OU and was dissatisfied with the art program. A professor, Roger Huebner, recognized Wimmer’s talent and asked his assistance on several of his projects. “When I confessed my frustration with OU’s art program, he established an internship for me to work with Don Ivan Punchatz at his Sketchpad Studio in Arlington, Texas and receive college credit,” Wimmer recalled.

“This was probably the greatest career boost of my life,” Wimmer reveals. “Getting to work with a professional artist/illustrator and experience how he solved his visual problems, reseached solutions, promoted himself as an artist, priced his work, dealt with copyright issues and understood the lifestyle of a working artist was invaluable. This was boot camp for Wimmer’s future career. Reflecting on that experience, Wimmer says, “That experience set me up for success. When I came back to Oklahoma to begin my career as a professional illustrator I often found myself educating my clients about copyright rules and intellectual property rights.” Since 1987, Wimmer has been allied with a New York public relations firm, Mendola Ltd., an affiliation that led him to incredible success with Disney. He created the movie posters for Mr. Destiny, starring Jim Belushi and Michael Caine, the sound track for The Lion King and The Lion King Two as well as the creative style guides for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you drink tea, look for his packaging designs for Celestial Teas. Forty of his paintings depicting historical subjects hang in the Oklahoma State Capitol. Recently, Wimmer has become better known for his illustrations in children’s books, especially covers. Will Rogers: An American Legend was among the first of several books Wimmer illustrated with former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. Wimmer uses a Norman Rockwell Mike Wimmer in his studio.

authentic, nostalgic approach to all of his children’s book illustrations. Western Writers of America named the Will Rogers book “the best children’s book” in the juvenile category of their 2003 awards presentation. Wimmer’s portrait of Will Rogers now hangs in the library of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. Wimmer and Keating’s book, George, debuted on the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday, with a gala party at Mount

Vernon. One reviewer wrote of George, “These stunning illustrations lend an epic gravitas to the narrative. We see Washington as a baby, a young boy studying, a young man working as a surveyor, a soldier, a married man, a general and a statesman.” The book was a finalist in the 2015 Oklahoma Center for the Book awards program. Other book collaborations with Keating include Theodore, about the life of former President

Wimmers. Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

Theodore Roosevelt, Home Run ~ The Story of Babe Ruth, and The Trial of Standing Bear, the ultimate victory that began the long struggle for civil rights for Native Americans. Wimmer illustrated Flight ~ the Story of Charles Lindbergh One Great Leap ~ The Story of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and their historic trip to the moon in 1969, written by Robert Burleigh. For Wimmer, each day at his easel is a new adventure, often filled with surprises and challenges. Part of his time is spent serving as a Distinguished Visiting Artist and Gallery Director for Oklahoma City University’s art program. The rest of the time, he’s at his easel, with paint brush in hand. Each illustration begins with thumbnail sketches that help him assess his client’s needs or wishes for the project. Meticulous research follows. For the Charles Lindbergh book, he built a scale model of the Spirit of St. Louis plane and recreated a full-scale cockpit to be

sure the plane’s proportions would be accurate on canvas. “My models are often my own family members,” Wimmer notes. “A friend became Babe Ruth for Home Run. A grandmother I met at

A young man models for an illustration.

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a Tulsa shopping center played a role in one of the illustrations for All The Places To Love. My son and daughter have posed, too,” he says. “I try to be sensitive to the needs of each project.” Wimmer has never regretted his decision to be an artist. He says, “I followed my grandfather’s advice. He said if I did what I loved I would excel and be richly compensated for it. He was right.” And what about that high school desire to be a professional football player? Wimmer says it was easy not to follow that path. He says, “The overwhelming problem was, genetically, I picked the wrong size parents.” n


Sensitive Santa’s Special Magic BY MINDY RAGAN WOOD


anta makes room in his heart for all children, and that includes little ones with special challenges. Sometimes referred to as “Sensitive Santa,” or “Safe Santa,” he descended in malls across Oklahoma just for them. ION Oklahoma Magazine caught up with Santa at the Shawnee Mall where he and his elves made sure every child got a chance to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Knowing these children need a little extra care, the Shawnee Mall made a special time for families to see Santa on December 4. With reduced lighting, less sound and the ability to wait without standing in line, children with sensory and movement differences were able to approach Santa without environmental stress. In particular, children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorders can be overstimulated due to extremely sensitive hearing and vision. Shawnee Mall Marketing Director, Mindy Palmer explained. “There’s more seating. They have full run of the court. The overhead lights are off. Instead of standing in line, parents receive a number and get an index card. They can write if their child is non-verbal or has some other need. Santa gets the card before he sees the child.” Volunteers assisted with the event, including

members of Autism Shawnee. Kena Utter of Autism Shawnee said Sensitive Santa helped her son enjoy his visit. “I slipped Santa a note about a few things he liked, to get him to warm up to him. He spent as long as he needed with him while also visiting with siblings! I was greatly impressed. Snacks and crafts were also stress free and it was a great experience. Pictures were adorable!” Mother Kerry Ingersoll said, “It was our first picture with Santa without tears and a red face.” Santa can be scary for young children, but especially sensitive children who face a world that doesn’t always make sense to them. Palmer said last year she had parents from Kansas and Arkansas and one mother in particular was shocked. She was skeptical but hopeful as her son relied on an iPad while in public. “As soon as he heard Santa say, ‘Ho,ho,ho,’ he dropped the iPad and ran to him,” said DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 59

Palmer. Santa’s Chief Executive Elf (CEE), Kristin, said another mother brought her son and told them he wouldn’t hug or talk to Santa. “I said, ‘Well, we’ll go at his pace.’ I was playing with him and that boy bee-lined to Santa and hugged him. She was on the floor, shocked to see that. She was crying, but it was tears of joy.” Santa agreed to talk to reveal a few of his secrets to help these children feel safe and comfortable. “Each child has their own special gifts, and that is what we try to recognize and appreciate,” he said. During this time with sensitive children, Santa follows the child. Some sit on his lap, some beside him. Some chose to sit or lay on the floor. Others communicate while doing an activity like reading or coloring with Santa. “The Santa team sees all children as equally special. All children show their excitement in different ways. Maybe this is the magic of Christmas!” he exclaimed. He also loves to see overjoyed parents who, in some cases, have never felt comfortable bringing their child to him before. “Parents enjoy seeing their children enjoy the magic of Christmas as much as the children do. For the Santa team, this is a rewarding experience. It is our goal to make these magical moments as special for the parents as the children.” In a world divided by prejudice, politics, and misunderstanding, Santa hopes the world can get better starting with the children who will be the future. “Santa loves all children unconditionally. I love to see each child’s special gifts and talents. Our hope is that other children will see that it is OK for them to love all children like we do.” n

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PEOPLE Nextgen Under 30 Award Honors Mark Costello First recipients named at 2016 awards banquet BY GARLAND MCWATTERS


he first two recipients of the Mark Costello Spirit award were announced at the 2016 nextGen under 30 awards banquet, november 18 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Patrick Conlon, assistant director of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma, and Ta’Na Alexander, a genetic research technician at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, received the award presented by Anna-Marie Costello, daughter of the late Oklahoma Labor Commissioner. Commissioner Costello was an early supporter of the NextGen Under 30 program and delivered the keynote at the 2013 awards banquet. Anna-Marie is a member of the 2013 NextGen Under 30 class. The two recipients embody the diversity represented in Oklahoma’s population. Conlon, a native Canadian, immigrated with his parents when he was 12. He received his U.S. citizenship in 2012. Alexander, a member of the Choctaw Nation, hails from Dibble, OK, and is a lifetime resident of Oklahoma. Conlon and Alexander were among 296 Patrick Conlon, assistant director of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma

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young leaders recognized at the sixth annual NextGen Under 30 recognition banquet. This is the first year the program reached a statewide audience. NextGen Under 30 started in 2011 by iOn Oklahoma magazine to recognize young leaders from central Oklahoma in their twenties who are having a impact on their workplaces and in their communities. Although from different backgrounds, Conlon and Alexander have similar advice for young adults about building their careers: take action on your dreams and don’t let your inner voice or discouragement from critics stop you. “Just do it,” Conlon advises his students, “ You just need to make art. And you need to do it until you are good enough that people are willing to pay you for it. “ Alexander credits her mother with encouragement to go for what she wanted. “You don’t always need to know what the outcome is. You don’t always have to know the answers to what is the possibility to something and just take that leap for it.” Her face lights up with a broad smile and a twinkle in her eyes when talking about her mother’s encouragement to ask for what she wanted. “The worst they can say to you is, ‘no,’” her mother would say. Alexander said it was that

Patrick Conlon, center, with Christina Giacona and Rob Bradshaw

determination that helped her get her current assignment at the OMRF, which was not available when she applied. “They never said no but they said not right now. I would just contact them once every couple of months and say how’s that position looking, and finally after a year’s time I accepted the position. Working in a biomedical research facility as an undergrad is a huge honor in itself.” Conlon tells his students to dive into their compositions and don’t worry about what people will think of it. “I tell my students to just write. There is no your sound unless there’s product. You don’t know what’s going to come out, and whatever you write is going to sound like you because it’s you writing it,” he said. Both Conlon and Alexander are familiar with hard work and persistence. Conlon stresses continual improvement. He advises, “Practice and practice to improve.” Conlon says he practices diligently on the fundamentals, spending time with scales and other basics. “Anyone you see who has made it, they’ve been daily improving

themselves for years or decades, and that’s what it takes. “ Alexander thought it important to honor her Choctaw heritage so she learned the Choctaw language. “That’s something that has been really diminished over the last one hundred years, so for me personally to know the language and to see that it can come back and that it’s not just dead with our elders is something that I hold dear to my heart,” she said. She also says she does not regret taking so long to settle on a professional course of study. Alexander holds four certifications in business processing, child development, fine arts, and emergency medical technician-B. Each has provided skills and experiences on which she can build. Both speak to the need to express themselves in their careers and interests. Conlon has been called a genre-busing musician. But to Conlon that’s another way of saying create your own normal. He passes it off by saying genre-busting is whatever your normal is. “I grew up listening and playing classical and rock and pop was my normal. I think every time you get a new generation, you get a new normal for that generation.” Alexander’s new normal is stepping out into a joint entrepreneurial venture with Daniel Brackett, a collector of Native American art. They are opening a new gallery featuring Native American art coming soon to the Oklahoma City Paseo Arts District. Listen to individual podcasts with Patrick Conlon and Ta’Na Alexander at the Spirit of Leading podcast site n

(Left to Right) Ta'Na in lab; Ta'Na holding the what if message;

Anna Marie Costello presents the Mark Costelleo Spirit Award to Ta'Na Alexander and Patrick Conlon.

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Investing in the Millennial Generation is Important to Oklahoma’s Future BY DON SWIFT


here were about 1,200 winners and supporters in the room that night. I hope you enjoyed the speakers as much as I did. But we want to make 2017’s event even better, and we will be asking you questions in an upcoming survey designed to gain your feedback about the event—what did you like, what can we do better next year. We’ll send you a report on the survey and share our conclusions with you. Our goal in 2017 is to increase ongoing participation in the program by all the winners—and there are roughly 500 NextGen Under 30 winners from the six past years. Please look for the survey next week. Photos from the Day at the Capitol (in Gallery 5) and the Awards Dinner and Ceremony are available in ionOklahoma

Award ceremony winners and their guests.

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Magazine galleries at this link: Again, thank you for making this year’s competition a success! November 18, 2016 was an exciting evening and very rewarding event for me as 296 young people under the age of 30, from throughout the State of Oklahoma, were honored at the Oklahoma City Cox Convention Center. These people winning this award and their family, friends, and business associates totaled over 1,200 people. In the 6th year of honoring young people under the age of 30, ion Oklahoma Magazine made the decision to expand the award program statewide and honor many more talented young Oklahomans by adding 16 different career categories. After launching the nominations process on February 1, 2016 and securing certain career category sponsors the nominations started rolling in on the website and we received over 1,000 nominations by the deadline date on August 26, 2016. Judges then selected 296 very talented winners by September 12, 2016. (left to right) Chancellor Glen Johnson, Governor Mary Fallin, and Mr. Bob Funk, Sr CEO Express Employment Professionals congratulate winners. Far right,Coach Barry Switzer Introduces Hon JC Watts.

It is very encouraging to see so many talented Oklahomans under 30, just flying under the radar. Our mission is to provide these young people with certain recognition early in their careers and encourage them to stay in Oklahoma. As a native Oklahoman, I have travelled all over the world early in my career and personally believe there is not a better place to live and raise a family than Oklahoma. As a member of the baby boomer generation and parent of two members of the Millennial generation I have learned a lot about how young people are thinking differently today than we were at their age. The Millennial generation is coming online much faster than most people realize. In just 4 years it is projected that the Millennial generation will represent 46% of the workplace in the nation. In the world today the advances in technology are on overdrive and accelerating much faster than everyone can adapt. Globalization in the world is advancing and people today have the opportunity to often live and work wherever they want to live. It is my belief that Oklahoma community and business leaders need to understand and embrace the Millennials and investing in their generation is investing in Oklahoma’s future. Don’t underestimate these young talented Oklahomans and

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many of them are going to be the community and business leaders of tomorrow. The NextGen Under 30 program is planning in 2017 to launch the nomination processs on February 1. The NextGen Leadership program will host 2 two day leadership retreats and 10 one day regional seminars for Millennials (ages 20-39) in 2017. Also NextGen Ambassadors for Millennials (ages 2039) will be recruited as founding members and volunteers who believe in our NextGen mission during January 2017. n Left, Honorable JC Watts was the Keynote Speaker at the Next Gen Awards cermony. Below left, Olivia Kay, Barry Switzer, Heather Kay, and Governor Mary Fallin at the awards ceremony. Below, William Row and Governor Mary Fallin at the awards ceremony.

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Above, the 2016 Next Gen Group at the Capitol. Below, the Boy Scouts presented the colors. Right, Dr. Paul Kirbas delivers the innovation.

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Governor Mary Fallin addresses to gathering.

Olivia Kay sings National Anthem.

Stewart and Sandy Meyers attended the ceremony.

Former winners return to the 2016 ceremony.

Award winners’ guests

Award winners and their guests.

Award winners and guests.

Award winners.


STILL SHOPPING? Gift ideas to consider BY LINDA MILLER

No more putting it off. It’s time to finish your holiday shopping. Coming up with gift and stocking ideas can be difficult, especially when you buy for the same people year after year. Think outside the box. Opt for something unexpected. Of course, a gift that’s more traditional is good, too. Here are a few fashion and beauty ideas. Bath & Body Works bath fizzy.

WRAP HIM UP For the guy on your list who likes to wear jewelry, how about a leather and stainless steel bracelet? This one by Murano is dark brown and double-braided with silvertone cross closure. It costs $60 at Dillard’s.

Murano men’s bracelet.

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RELAXING SOAK Who among us doesn’t enjoy a little alone time in the tub? Bath fizzies in Vanilla Bean Noel, Winter Candy Apple and Twisted Peppermint are infused with moisturizing canola oil and shea butter. Good for your skin and they help you relax. Fizzies are $6.50 at Bath & Body Works.

BOBBI’S ORIGINAL 10 This may be the ultimate gift for any Bobbi Brown fan or lipstick lover. The limited-edition, collectible set features all 10 of the original Bobbi Brown lip colors in mini travel sizes. Shades are Salmon, Beige, Raisin, Brown, Rose, Pink, Orange, Blackberry, Burnt Red and Red. All universally flattering with a semi-matte finish. The 25th anniversary lip collection costs $115 at Balliets.

Bobbi Brown Original 10 lip collection.

FACE TIME Leland Francis Luxe Face Oil, developed by celebrity makeup artist and Oklahoma native Dillon Pena, is pure heaven for your face. It’s a blend of argan, rose hip, evening primrose and tamanu oils, just to name a few. No greasy feel; absorbs right into the skin. New Beauty magazine named it the No. 1 dry oil pick. Pena works on both coasts and named the company after his grandfather. Other products include Black Rose Bar and Luxe Body Oil. Face oil is $99 at The MakeUp Bar and Udander spa. Leland Francis Luxe Face Oil.

Merona men’s weekender bag.

MAN ON THE GO This men’s nylon weekender bag can go from the gym to a weekend getaway. It’s travel-friendly for airport security and has an adjustable padded shoulder strap with exterior and interior pockets. Merona nylon weekender bag is $29.99 at Target.

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Trick Your Brain into Keeping New Year Resolutions BY MINDY RAGAN WOOD


ccording to the Journal of Clinical Psychology about 50 percent of americans do it every year, making new year’s resolutions to create a new and improved version of themselves. The success rate? according to Statistic Brain Research only 8 percent actually achieve their goals. You can probably guess that the most popular resolution is to lose weight, followed by spending less money, reducing debt and increasing time with family or investing in someone else’s welfare. What is in the brain that keeps us from realizing our lofty dreams of a better self? It may be all in your head, as in the neural pathways of your brain. Psychology Today published the result of brain researchers, Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and psychotherapist, Stephen Hays. Their advice is based on MRI evidence which demonstrates habits are result from thinking patterns which are neural pathways and memories. Want to make a new habit? Change the way you think. Maybe it is really that easy. According to Positive Psychology News, breaking bad habits and substituting new ones has a lot to do with the way we think before we engage in the bad habit and the way our bodies feel while doing it. “Recognize the sensory impulse(s) you experience in your body or other stimuli that occur just before you usually act on the negative habit,” writes Emily vanSonnenburg in This is Your Brain on Habits. “Instead of acting on the negative impulse, use your conscious attention to re-focus your thoughts and behaviors on the new and positive habit.” In other words, when you feel the physical or emotional urge to act on a bad habit, stop those thoughts dead in their tracks

and start thinking about the new good habit. Those thoughts can re-motivate you as you reflect on the positive outcome you’ll receive from doing something you know will be good for you. Performing a new habit and feeling the reward of that action can release feel-good endorphins in the brain, creating new neural pathways to help make that behavior a habit. How long does that take? We’ve all heard it can take just 21 days, but it can take much longer depending on the complexity of the task. It may take longer than 21 days for synchronized swimming to be second nature, but probably far less time for a 30 minute walk after dinner every night or a 15 minute stretch routine during your lunch three times a week. Starting a new habit requires a few things to keep in mind so you don’t sabotage yourself before you ever begin. Ask yourself the following questions to overcome the most common pitfalls: 1. Why do I want to do this and what will happen if I don’t? 2. Do I have time for this and if not, how can I make time? 3. When unavoidable obstacles get in the way, what is my plan B? 4. Is gradual change better than cold turkey? Am I the kind of person who has to take a giant leap or get there by small steps at a time? Don’t forget to consider resolutions that may help you address the underlying causes of bad habits. If you struggle with clinical depression, maybe your first course of action is to find successful treatment instead of joining a social club. Consider seeing a mental health professional if your bad habits are steeped in a mental health issue. Depression, untreated emotional trauma, and persistent low self-esteem could be hidden saboteurs in your plan to be a better you. Here’s to a Happy and successful New Year! n DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 73

PEOPLE Amazing Work Jim Kinammon helps the less fortunate in U.S. and overseas BY TIM FARLEY


“We ship (equipment) to every state and people in every state watch what we do.” — Joe Kinnamon

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im Kinammon and his small band of workers never stop helping others.

Kinammon, his wife Debbi, and two other volunteers spend their days and nights making sure disabled and less fortunate adults and children receive the medical equipment they need, such as manual and motorized wheelchairs, walkers, standers, hospital beds, shoes, diapers and baby formula. The organization is known as Amazing Grace and operates from a small warehouse in Shawnee. Kinammon, a retired airplane mechanic from Tinker Air Force Base, began this journey five years ago when he was volunteering to pick up trash in downtown Shawnee. At the time, he saw a woman trying to push a man in a manual wheelchair. She was having a difficult time helping the man. That’s when the light bulb went off inside Kinammon’s mind. He decided to start a charitable organization that would help needy people who needed medical equipment. Since then, Kinammon’s work has reached every state in the U.S. and overseas to places like Ukraine and Russia. In August, Amazing Grace sent $350,000 in medical supplies to Baton Rouge following a massive flood.

“We have a network that encompasses all of the United States,” he said. “We ship (equipment) to every state and people in every state watch what we do.” Kinammon’s tale is a feel-good story that’s been publicized before, but his work never stops. He’s 63 and he has no plans to quit helping others. His work often involves repairing powered or manual wheelchairs, which means new tires, batteries or seats. Kinammon acknowledges he couldn’t fulfill his mission without the generosity of others. “We have a pretty good network of people who donate,” he said. “There’s individuals, churches, hospitals. We take donations from all over the country.” Donations come in the form of money, used wheelchairs and other medical equipment no longer in use, diapers, baby formula and anything else that is

needed. If a need arises and the item isn’t in stock, Kinammon will find it somewhere. “It takes a lot of money that I don’t have,” he admitted. “We barely get by but we seem to get what we need when we need it. I take donations when I can or I go buy the stuff myself. It’s a big undertaking.” Kinammon’s heart nearly melts when children are involved and he’s always ready to help. In a recent case, Kinammon spent nearly $360 on replacement parts for a paralyzed child’s motorized wheelchair. Kinammon didn’t blink an eye about spending the money because the child was in need. He also knows most of the people Amazing Grace helps can’t afford new motorized wheelchairs, which cost about $35,000. That’s why he focuses on finding used equipment that can be repaired or modified to fit a DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ionOklahoma 75

person’s special needs. “I try to solicit (monetary) donations but I don’t have much luck,” he said. “I’m not a money person. I’m a doer and we enjoy doing it.” Soon after the charitable organization Amazing Grace was founded, Kinammon set up a Facebook page to get the word out. “We were lucky people saw it,” he said. Responses from people who have benefitted from the charity’s generosity are overwhelming. Rachael Exline wrote, “Amazing Grace is so wonderful! They are truly Angels. I was able to get my son an almost brand new pacer gait trainer in perfect condition and a fun trike. The best people around, always answer questions, very quick to respond and will work with you to look at equipment.” Karina Youssef wrote about children in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus receiving needed medical equipment. “I do believe in miracles, thanks to this group and Jim Kinammon. In these countries there is no government support and there is no health insurance that could provide support. Families barely can cover 76 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

medical expenses and this help is the blessing for them,” she wrote on the Amazing Grace Facebook page. With the worldwide web at his fingertips and the demand for help increasing, Kinammon and his crew now process about 80 to 120 requests a month. “We take care of all of them,” he said. That means working about 18 hours a day seven days a week. On average, the charity also provides wheelchairs to 18 people each month. They also distribute beds, diapers, tracheotomy supplies, walkers and standers to people in need. “We try to make sure we have whatever people will need,” he said. Sending donated and repaired medical equipment and supplies overseas is a labor love. In the past, Amazing Grace sent a huge care package to Ukraine and Russian children who suffer from birth defects. Closer to home, Kinammon also sent repaired motorized wheelchairs to people in South Carolina, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Right now, the biggest needs are manual wheelchairs, walkers, standers and special adaptive chairs. n

Oklahoma City Thunder: DATE Wed, Oct 26 Fri, Oct 28 Sun, Oct 30

OPPONENT @ Philadelphia vs Phoenix vs Los Angeles

TIME 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 6:00 PM


Wed, Nov 2 Thu, Nov 3 Sat, Nov 5 Mon, Nov 7 Wed, Nov 9 Fri, Nov 11 Sun, Nov 13 Mon, Nov 14 Wed, Nov 16 Fri, Nov 18 Sun, Nov 20 Tue, Nov 22 Wed, Nov 23 Fri, Nov 25 Sat, Nov 26 Mon, Nov 28 Wed, Nov 30

@ LA @ Golden State vs Minnesota vs Miami vs Toronto vs LA vs Orlando @ Detroit vs Houston vs Brooklyn vs Indiana @ Los Angeles @ Sacramento @ Denver vs Detroit @ NY Knicks vs Washington

9:30 PM 9:30 PM 5:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 6:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 6:00 PM 9:30 PM 9:30 PM 8:00 PM 7:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM


Sun, Dec 4 Mon, Dec 5 Fri, Dec 9 Sun, Dec 11 Tue, Dec 13 Wed, Dec 14 Sat, Dec 17 Mon, Dec 19 Wed, Dec 21 Fri, Dec 23 Sun, Dec 25 Tue, Dec 27 Thu, Dec 29 Sat, Dec 31

vs New Orleans @ Atlanta vs Houston vs Boston @ Portland @ Utah vs Phoenix vs Atlanta @ New Orleans @ Boston vs Minnesota @ Miami @ Memphis vs LA

6:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM 6:00 PM 9:30 PM 8:00 PM 4:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM

Mon, Jan 2 Wed, Jan 4 Thu, Jan 5 Sat, Jan 7 Mon, Jan 9 Wed, Jan 11

@ Milwaukee @ Charlotte @ Houston vs Denver @ Chicago vs Memphis

6:00 PM 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM






2016 - 2017 Schedule DATE Fri, Jan 13 Sun, Jan 15 Mon, Jan 16 Wed, Jan 18 Mon, Jan 23 Wed, Jan 25 Thu, Jan 26 Sun, Jan 29 Tue, Jan 31

OPPONENT @ Minnesota @ Sacramento @ LA @ Golden State @ Utah @ New Orleans vs Dallas @ Cleveland @ San Antonio

TIME 7:00 PM 8:00 PM 9:30 PM 9:30 PM 8:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 2:30 PM 7:30 PM


Wed, Feb 1 Fri, Feb 3 Sun, Feb 5 Mon, Feb 6 Thu, Feb 9 Sat, Feb 11 Mon, Feb 13 Wed, Feb 15 Fri, Feb 24 Sun, Feb 26 Tue, Feb 28

vs Chicago vs Memphis vs Portland @ Indiana vs Cleveland vs Golden State @ Washington vs NY Knicks vs Los Angeles vs New Orleans vs Utah

8:30 PM 7:00 PM 2:00 PM 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 6:00 PM 8:30 PM 7:00 PM 6:00 PM 7:00 PM


Thu, Mar 2 Fri, Mar 3 Sun, Mar 5 Tue, Mar 7 Thu, Mar 9 Sat, Mar 11 Tue, Mar 14 Thu, Mar 16 Sat, Mar 18 Mon, Mar 20 Wed, Mar 22 Sun, Mar 26 Mon, Mar 27 Wed, Mar 29 Fri, Mar 31

@ Portland @ Phoenix @ Dallas vs Portland vs San Antonio vs Utah @ Brooklyn @ Toronto vs Sacramento vs Golden State vs Philadelphia @ Houston @ Dallas @ Orlando vs San Antonio

9:30 PM 8:00 PM 7:30 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 2:00 PM 6:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 2:30 PM 7:30 PM 6:00 PM 8:30 PM


Sun, Apr 2 Tue, Apr 4 Wed, Apr 5 Fri, Apr 7 Sun, Apr 9 Tue, Apr 11 Wed, Apr 12

vs Charlotte vs Milwaukee @ Memphis @ Phoenix @ Denver @ Minnesota vs Denver

2:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM 9:00 PM 4:00 PM 7:00 PM 7:00 PM









Classic Collaborations BY TIM FARLEY Photos by Michael Downes


o Meacham is used to designing employing expert craftsmen and her proprietary Worry-Free Design and Remodel Process, delivering well designed kitchen and bath remodels that will increase the value of your home. In three separate cases, her clients have shown an eye for design so they, along with Meacham, have collaborated on the projects. That type of situation, Meacham said, is fun. Meacham is owner of Urban Kitchens in Oklahoma City. “They’re part of a new group of people who want to hire a designer to come in and confirm that they’re headed in the right direction,” she said. “They have a firm idea of what the kitchen should be. These people are much more specific about what they want and it’s more collaborative.” In some cases, it’s the husband who gives Meacham more direction than the wife. “Sometimes, it’s heavy on the man’s involvement,” she said.

Jo Meacham

80 ion Oklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

LAST YEAR, Vince and Nicki Lombardo hired Meacham to redo a kitchen in a 1985 ranch-style home in Edmond. “My project was to help them finish the kitchen,” she said. “It went great. They were easy to work with. We presented them with some alternatives and they used some of our suggestions.” Earlier this year, Meacham worked with Tony and Christy Capucille who had a vision of creating a circa

The Lombardo kitchen update in their 1985 ranch-style home in Edmond blends retro and modern style.

1800s colonial home using materials and methods from that time to achieve their goal. Meacham recalled she was hired to renovate a kitchen and build a pool cabana that fit into the theme of the 1800s architecture. The cabana originally was supposed to be outdoors, but the design changed and it was moved indoors with a fireplace. Again, Meacham helped her client achieve their goal.

Meacham helped renovate a kitchen that fit into the theme of the 1800s architecture.

Also in 2016, Meacham stayed within the Capucille family, but this time it was Tom and Sonya Capucille. The couple had purchased a 1930s log cabin and was in its original condition except for the kitchen, which had been renovated years earlier. “I was hired to remodel the kitchen so it was a better fit for the cabin. We used the bones of the existing kitchen and created one that would be appropriate for the cabin,” she recalled. In each case, Meacham said, the clients were knowledgeable about design and open to suggestions “when they felt it would make the design better.” Meacham began her career in planning and preservation with Oklahoma City. Since founding Urban Kitchens in 1999, Meacham has designed and built hundreds of kitchens in the historic areas of Oklahoma City, including Heritage Halls, Mesta Park, Edgemere Park and Crown Heights, as well as Edmond, Norman and throughout the state. For more information, visit n 82 ionOklahoma DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017

Meacham helped renovate a kitchen and build a pool cabana that fit into the theme of the 1800s architecture.

Meacham helped transform the kitchen in this 1930s cabin that is a better fit than the previous remodel.

Iowa Rock n Roll Music Association

The 2014 NextGen 30 Under 30 honorees.

ion Oklahoma Magazine December 2016/January 2017  

ionOklahoma covers lifestyle, culture, and entertainment in the Oklahoma City metro area and in Oklahoma state wide.

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