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Painted Memories: Artist creates notstalgic works of Pawhuska

Nostalgic 1950s paintings by former PHS Art Teacher Les Stark surround Clifton’s Shop Keeper Arlena Trumbly who is holding a print of the Osage County Court House. Others include (Clockwise) Duncan Hotel, Pawhuska High School, Low Water Bridge, Catholic Church, and Plymouth Cab. Clifton’s is hosting a one-man showing of Stark’s work Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 - 28.
Nostalgic 1950s paintings by former PHS Art Teacher Les Stark surround Clifton’s Shop Keeper Arlena Trumbly who is holding a print of the Osage County Court House. Others include (Clockwise) Duncan Hotel, Pawhuska High School, Low Water Bridge, Catholic Church, and Plymouth Cab. Clifton’s is hosting a one-man showing of Stark’s work Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 - 28.

There is something magical about Pawhuska, headquarters for the Osage Nation and County seat. Her rich history has been the inspiration for numerous books, movies and art.

Former Pawhuska High School Art Teacher Les Stark found a way to share his memories of Pawhuska through a series of paintings.

His journey began five years ago when the Pawhuska High School Class of 1958 began preparing for their 50th reunion.

“I thought I would try to stir up some memories with a painting of the Triangle Building as it was back in the 1950s,” Stark said.

Stark’s painting was such a success with his class mates; he decided to try his hand at painting other local landmarks. Stark had previously sold a number of his western and wildlife paintings through galleries and in art shows, but painting Pawhuska and the surrounding area created a local market for nostalgic works. So far Stark has sold over twenty Pawhuska originals and a large number of prints.

“Maybe my work brings a smile, a tear, or a remembrance,” he said.

Stark has donated several of his paintings to the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce to be auctioned during the annual Gala. His 2013 donation was an original commissioned for the filming of the movie “August: Osage County” and was purchased by the American Heritage Bank.

When asked about the accuracy of the details in his paintings, Stark said “They are as I see them, remember them, or just made them up.”

Some of the traditions reflected in his paintings continue today, such as “Fun on Flannigan” which depicts the joy of sledding on Pawhuska’s most famous hillside. “Plymouth Cab” was located in the alley east of the historic Duncan Hotel.

Arlena Trumbly said, “I can remember cabs being lined up from Main Street clear back to the alley.”

Located south of Main on Trumbly, “Low Water Bridge” continues to be a good place to fish on a summer day.

Clifton’s Art & Jewelry will be hosting a one-man showing of Stark’s work Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28. Prints and originals will be on display and, in addition to those previously mentioned, will include a winter scene of the Catholic Church, Duncan Hotel, PHS High School, the Huskies Football Team, an Osage Wedding Party, Citizens Bank and more.

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