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Press Release

Release Date: September 21, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

WASHINGTON - A second “spirit” painting by renowned artist Lance Straughn has been purchased by the U.S. Department of Interior Museum. 

The museum purchased “Night Run,” a painting blending realism and expressionism. It depicts buffalo galloping down a prairie landscape after nightfall. 

It accompanies another “spirit” painting titled “Bear Clan Guardian” purchased in August 2021 for the museum’s permanent collection of more than 1,500 works of art. 

“I am very honored to have two paintings on display at the museum,” Straughn said. “It was an honor to provide ‘Bear Clan Guardian’ to it last year and such a pleasant surprise to have the opportunity to contribute a second painting to the museum this year.” 

“Spirit” paintings are still an anomaly even to Chickasaw citizen Straughn, who also has trouble explaining the concept and technique that produces them. 

“The desire to paint ‘Night Run’ just came to me one evening when I was on a drive. I like to escape the hustle and bustle of Oklahoma City and drive to areas more secluded and private. The wind was whipping around pretty strong, and there was a storm brewing,” Straughn said. 

“‘Night Run’ popped into my mind on that drive, and I went home and started slapping paint on a canvas,” he said with a laugh. 

For decades, Straughn painted in a style of realism until inspired to produce “spirit” art. He still displays both kinds of painting at festivals and on his website 

One realism painting, “Speaks to the Grandfathers,” depicting a Chickasaw Warrior participating in a centuries-old sacred activity, was sold to a private collector at the Artesian Arts Festival (AAF) in June. That painting was a first-place award winner in the juried division of AAF. 

“We were very busy at the Artesian Arts Festival and sold many pieces. It showed me how much the COVID-19 pandemic had people pent up over the last two years. They were anxious to leave home, view art, talk with me, and there is no better interaction than person- to-person,” he explained. 

Straughn is multitalented. Primarily an oil painter and sculptor, since the June festival, he has concentrated on wood carvings but expressed a desire to return to the easel. “It probably has been four or five months since I have painted, and I need to get back to it,” he noted. 

The wood carvings are not completely finished. One is of a bear standing upright and the other is a turtle. The bear is carved in basswood and the turtle in walnut. 

“The Artesian Arts Festival really excited me, and it was such a pleasure to get out and see people again. It energized me,” he added.

“Artwork (is) displayed within the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building,” said Jason Jurgena, museum registrar. “Straughn is the only contemporary Chickasaw artist whose work is represented in the Interior Museum’s collection,” he added.