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Press Release

Release Date: March 22, 2018

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Bryan Waytula grew up in a household of Cherokee basket makers but took his own path with his artistic expressions. He is known for his photo-realistic drawings and stylized representations using many colored circles. His exhibit in Sulphur will last until May 12, with a reception 5-7 p.m., Saturday, April 7, at the ARTesian Gallery & Studios, 100 W. Muskogee St.

  • Bryan Waytula‚Äôs drawing Mother Earth depicts his own mother, Vivian Garner-Cottrell, in her youth, dressed in her regalia. It is a representation of Mother Earth taking human form. He wanted the use of many bright colors to bring to mind the warm core of the earth, the vibrant grass and trees, the mountain ranges, plains, canyons, soil, streams and oceans.

  • As an artist, Bryan Waytula makes an effort to meet other Native Americans and share their art and stories with those who consume his creations. In the drawing Slick Style, Waytula shares the image of Levi Blackwolf from the Warm Springs and Yakama tribes, dressed for the Horse Tail dance.

SULPHUR, Okla. -- A selection of works from Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula -- known for his use of repetitive circles as well as photorealistic images in his depictions of Native American subjects – is on display through May 12 at the ARTesian Gallery and Studios, 100 W. Muskogee St.

A reception set 5-7 p.m., Saturday, April 7 offers the public an opportunity to meet the artist, who hails from Sand Springs, Oklahoma.  Finger foods and light refreshments will be available.

Carrying forward his family’s artistic creativity, Waytula specializes in the visual art of drawing.

His mother, Vivian Garner-Cottrell, and his grandmother, the late Betty Scraper-Garner, both earned the title of Cherokee National Treasure for their basketry.

A Cherokee National Treasure is honored for making major contributions or offering a lifetime commitment to the Cherokee culture. As an award, it is given to those who are reviving and preserving Cherokee cultural practices. This all holds true for Waytula’s mother and grandmother.

“I’ve always been amazed at what they’ve done and could do with their hands and how they taught us the traditional way of making baskets,” Waytula, who has attempted basketry but excels at drawing, said.

He said his grandmother always supported creativity and suggested he try and draw.

One of Waytula’s pieces, Cherokee Treasure, employs his unique use of many small, colorful circles to honor her. It depicts Betty Scraper-Garner in a blue gown weaving a basket out of reed.

Almost like the pointillism seen in Georges Seurat’s 1884 A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, an up close viewing of the artwork is an entirely different experience than a look from far away.

In Seurat’s case, small strokes and splotches of color transform into a crowd of park-goers enjoying themselves on a sunny day. In Waytula’s case, a meticulous arrangement of perfectly round circles of various sizes becomes a cherished family member, or a public figure, or an animal, or a still life.

There’s more to what Waytula creates. He got his start drawing sports figures. These works were admired and signed by well-known sports personalities including former University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, former OU head football coach Bob Stoops, and Oklahoma City Thunder standout Russell Westbrook, among others.

And quite often, in the realm of Native American-themed art, Waytula takes a more photorealistic route.

His white charcoal piece, Wes Studi: The Man from NoFire, is a prime example of the realistic side of Waytula’s work. It depicts Studi, one of Waytula’s favorite actors, in what at first appears to be a black and white photograph. Waytula’s use of the black background in this drawing -- letting it come through in the composition -- brings out the distinct look of Studi’s face.

Our Creators Messenger is another Waytula piece which seems to pop into the third dimension. It is a Prismacolor colored pencil drawing of his former art student, George Alexander, depicted as the eagle messenger shapeshifted into human form. Waytula created layers of symbolism which reference back to the eagle, like the use of an eagle’s colors, keen eyes and feathers as part of the figure’s garb. This piece took first place in drawing at the 2017 Chickasaw Nation Southeastern Art Show and Market.

Anyone wanting to study drawing under Waytula will get the chance during his Prismacolor colored pencil illustration workshop 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 7 at the ARTesian. A $75 fee includes supplies and instruction.

The ARTesian Gallery and Studios is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The ARTesian’s retail shop offers a 40 percent discount to teachers and students and a 20 percent discount to artists.

Art is always on the walls and in the showcases of the ARTesian Gallery and Studios. Currently on display are the works of Paula Loftin, Billy Hensley, Mary Ruth Barnes, Brent Greenwood, Elihu Johnson, Shawn Harjo and Juanita Hanna, among others. Their creations consist of photographs, paintings, jewelry, basketry, pottery and beadwork.

Five separate studio spaces are also occupied by various artist. Joanna Underwood Blackburn, James Blackburn, Margaret Wheeler and Patta LT are current resident artists who work and sell out of the ARTesian’s studio space.

For more information regarding the reception, call the ARTesian Gallery & Studios, 580-622-8040. To browse Waytula’s art online, visit

Last Updated: 09/16/2016