Wilson’s interior is graced by a number of extraordinary murals and paintings. Wilson Arts, Inc. is extremely thankful for support in restoring and preserving these precious and historic pieces of art through fundraisers and generous grants from the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Oklahoma Art League.
In 1934, Audre’ Yates painted the Nursery Rhymes mural in soft pastel oil colors for the Wilson Elementary kindergarten room as a Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) commission. Her salary payment was $26.50 a week. Yates was a nineteen-year-old graduate of Central High School where she studied art with Grace Chadwick. Yates was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 17, 1914. Wilson school principal, J. Carl Conner, faculty and patrons so loved her mural that they commissioned her to paint the Circus mural for the adjoining primary room. Wilson children earnestly watched the young artist draw and paint the murals. Artist and art museum director Nan Sheets, representing the committee on government art work in Oklahoma, presented the murals to the school at an Open House in March of 1934.
Yates later studied at the Kansas City Art Institute under Thomas Hart Benton, Ross Braught, Mildred Hammond and Robert Mayes. Other works include a design of sculptured stone panels for a Junior High School building in Oklahoma City, and cover designs for several magazines. Yates also did extensive work in the commercial art field. She died at the age of 91 on May 11, 2006.
The Nursery Rhymes mural was restored and reinstalled in October 2016 through Wilson Arts, Inc. A $25,000 grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation provided for the Circus mural to be beautifully restored and reinstalled in June 2019 in the main hallway of the school directly across from the Nursery Rhymes mural.
The Circus mural was deteriorating in place on a canvas in storage. While some parts of the mural were in better shape than others, the extensive restoration plan included the removal of adhesive overlays, dirt, and grime. Restoration artist Carmen Bria selectively filled and inpainted losses, abrasions, and disfigurements as were necessary and appropriate using a reversible inplanting medium. The grant funds also provided for the crating, transportation, reinstallation, and framing of the mural. In addition, funds provided for the video documentation of the restoration of the mural as well as the history of the Circus Mural, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and the arts at Wilson.
The Circus mural will once again be enjoyed by all the Wilson students and the school community as well as the greater Oklahoma City community. The mural will be especially featured during the Heritage Hills Historic Home Tour and the Centennial Celebration for Wilson School on October 5th, 2019.
In 1998, Wilson was designated as the state’s first specialty school in arts integration, continuing the legacy of the arts at the school. The next year, Wilson was selected to be a partner school with the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and BLAC, Inc. (Black Liberated Arts Center), for professional development of teachers in arts integration. With this focus on the arts the school children will learn the history of the PWAP murals and seeds will be planted for them to develop a lifelong interest, appreciation and support for the arts.
Other projects funded by Wilson Arts Inc. include:
Bring drama instruction back to Wilson. We partnered with Oklahoma Children’s Theatre so that every class receives one period a week of drama instruction. In addition, the Children’s Theatre is doing their Page to Stage program with every grade. Wilson Arts Inc. is funding a trip for each class to see a production at the Children’s Theatre. Cost- $10,000
Send ten staff members to Washington D.C. over the summer for training at the Kennedy Center. This intensive training is the cornerstone of our Arts Integration program, and sending one teacher from each grade level has had a huge impact on instruction in the classroom. Cost-$7,000
Pay expenses for Mrs. Armstrong, our principal, to participate in Leadership Arts Training from the Arts Council. Cost- $1,000
Fund DrumFit kits for our PE/Rhythm and Movement class. This high energy music integrated PE program is a wonderful addition to our school. Cost-$2,400
Help send Mrs. Baumgardner to a strings conference. Cost- $447
Purchase new playground ball and jump rope sets for each class. Cost- $887
Purchase iPods for specials teachers for classroom use. Cost – $320
Meet the ongoing needs of the school throughout the school year.