Betty Price reflects on Oklahoma Arts Council career

Desiring more family time, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Betty Price will retire Oct. 1. But the move hardly will mark the end of a lifetime involvement in the arts.

“Life is serendipity ” a door opens ” and it really was,” she said.

The Northeastern State University graduate and Norman and Mid-Del educator plunged into politics, working for Sen. John Garrett. Price started bringing some of her works into the Capitol office and people began asking for them, inauspiciously marking the beginning of what would be years of creating a canvas out of the building, today one of her most visible legacies.

The arts council approached Price to come aboard, which she did in 1973, becoming executive director in 1985. As one of her first efforts, she organized an exhibit where legislators could choose original art for their offices.

“I promise you that about all anyone had on the wall was like a picture of a prize bull,” she said, laughing.

Over Price’s 33-year tenure, the Capitol galleries were established. Capitol art matters, she said, because of the representation of role models for those who pass through, whether they’re viewing a portrait of Woody Guthrie, a sculpture of Kate Barnard or a mural of the state’s world-famous American Indian ballerinas.

“When you’re in the rotunda, I think that you get a sense of the power of Oklahomans when you look at the portraits of Sequoyah, Jim Thorpe,” she said. “Emily Jerman


Emily Jerman

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