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Lawton-born artist remembered for his use of color

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The Native American community is mourning the death of a well-known artist and Lawton-born member of the Kiowa Tribe.

Robert Redbird died Saturday after being ill for some time. Redbird was born in Lawton in 1937 and spent time as an adult in the Anadarko and Carnegie areas. His artwork, which he signed with a feather and the word Kiowa, was known to showcase his passion for the Native American culture and his love of the Kiowa Tribe and their traditions. Many of his paintings are can be found in museums across Oklahoma.

All of the artists on display at the Chisholm Trail’s Garis Gallery of the American West are talented, but Stacy Cramer Moore, the executive director of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, says it was Redbird's use of colors that made him a standout.

Redbird comes from a long line of talented artists. His grandfather was a member of the Kiowa Five, one of the first Native American artists to go through Oklahoma University's art school. Some say it was that personal connection that allowed him to capture the personality of the Kiowa Tribe. 

"All of his paintings he does a lot of Kiowa cultural pieces where they are kind of wrapped in surwrapas. Very vivid, flowing pieces, absolutely beautiful. He captures that essence of the individual he's painting as well," Moore said.

Moore says Redbird's paintings allowed him the opportunity to meet influential people.

"I was reading he actually met Prince Charles. Some of his work was featured in the Polo Association and got to meat royalty, certainly all of us don't get to do that. Through his art career, he rose to those ranks. Being from the Lawton and Anadarko area he certainly did us proud," Moore said.

Moore says becoming a successful artist is a difficult journey. She says local aspiring artists should use Redbird's achievements as inspiration.

"You don't need to be born into money, you don't need to be born into a certain educational class. If you have the go to and you want to do it, then you can succeed," Moore said.

He leaves behind a wife of 55 years and 15 children. Redbird was 76.

Redbird was honored for his accomplishments when then-governor Brad Henry declared June 7, 2003, Robert Redbird Day.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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