Skip Hill

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Skip Hill
Skip Hill

Biography

Skip Hill was born in 1961 in Padre Island, TX. After studying Graphic Design at the Oklahoma University, he worked in Advertising at various agencies in various creative positions with clients like the McDonald's Corporation before relocating to Southern California. During this period Hill produced freelance graphic design work and spent much of his time in the Baja peninsula of Mexico.

The increasing lure of wanderlust took him to Thailand, where he lived for a year finding work as an art director for a Bangkok business magazine, spending time at a Buddhist meditation retreat and exploring the country by motorcycle.

In 1990 he settled in The Netherlands, learned Dutch and began an intensive study of Art History. Frequent visits to the great European museums provided the aesthetic experience that sparked his interest in creating art for its sheer beauty and sensuous pleasure.

The drawings he produced during that period were the subject of several one-man shows in The Netherlands. It was also during this time that Hill visited Germany, France, Marocco and post-Soviet Czechoslovakia including Prague.

His return to the Unitedf States in was followed by a reunion with his estranged father in Alabama that would lead to his introduction to the influential work of Southern outsider artist Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Jimmie Lee Sudduth and Mose Tolliver.

In the highly productive and creative years since, Hill has participated in several museum group shows and curated and created an installation for the exhibition Casting Stones at the Fred Jones Museum of Art. He returned to The Netherlands to execute murals commissioned by the Groot Hontschoten Gardens Foundation and to exhibit his new work. Travels to Brazil inspired the popular "Under The Mango Tree" series of works and the sellout exhibition that followed. He has shown in many art expos, galleries and art museums in his long career. Skip Hill's art is found in public and private collections throughout the United States, in the U.K., France, The Netherlands, Colombia and Brazil.

Reflecting a Proud Community: Local Artist Helps Tell the Story of Juneteenth and Black History

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com Posted: Jun 21, 2021

Local Oklahoma artist Skip Hill has experienced the farthest corners of the globe. His wanderlust spirit catapulted him across oceans from the captivating beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the historic cities in the Netherlands and even through the vibrant streets of Bangkok. Yet, the Del City native felt a calling to return back to the heartland of America to continue his art career in a place where he could make an impact on his own community.

Fast forward to June 2021 and Hill’s unique art is doing just that.

Hill was tasked with creating a mural during the Juneteenth on the East festival in Oklahoma City. The family friendly event was created in partnership between local music artist and activist Jabee and the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate to bring people of all ages to the predominately Black east side neighborhood of Oklahoma City to enjoy music, art and food while learning more about the Juneteenth holiday.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the day that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865 ­– nearly two and a half years after the proclamation was signed. Since then, Black communities across the country use the day to celebrate joy and liberation. On Wednesday, nearly one hundred and fifty-six years later, Congress officially declared Juneteenth a federal holiday.

That joyful spirit filled the two-block stretch of NE 23rd street as people of all ages braved the sweltering summer heat to partake in the local music, food and even take dance lessons. Kids and families also made their way through the Rolling Thunder Book Bus to pick out stories to take home while Thunder drummers gave them a beat to step to on their way out.

Tucked away off of the main road, behind the excitement and booming bass of the main music stage, Hill was midway through completing his mural. Though Hill brings the same intentionality and focus to each of his projects, this particular undertaking resonated with him in a very personal way. The mural he was creating was located just eight blocks away from where he and his family regularly attended church growing up. Years later as grown man with a family of his own, after traveling across the country and different parts of the world, he now has a chance to add something to the growing community he once called home.

“It’s my contribution to this new development, this new beautification of the community,” said Hill. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”

After the festival ended and NE 23rd street opened back up to its usual stream of traffic, Hill continued his work crafting the mural. Blue and white spray paint covered his fingertips and could be seen speckled on the brim of his straw hat. As he stepped back to catch a view of his progress, a white van pulled up and stopped on the street behind him.

The passenger seat window rolled down to reveal a woman smiling wide behind her white sunglasses. She was a resident of the area and had to stop to see who was responsible for the newest addition to the block.

“It’s awesome,” she beamed as she snapped a photo of Hill and his nearly completed mural.

It was just one of the many instances of local residents showing their appreciation for the new installation. Cars honked in approval; Thunder fans stopped to talk about the team and neighbors offered endorsing head nods. These were all welcomed distractions from Hill’s work. After all, these small moments were the exact reason Hill felt a calling to return back to Oklahoma after years of travelling the world ­– making a difference in his own community.

“Even people who don’t necessarily love art and don’t know much about art can appreciate a beautification of their neighborhood,” said Hill. “This is going to be in their community, in their neighborhood, down the street from their house and I want them to see it and think we’ve got something nice over here.”

Hill’s signature contemporary style of colorful, street-art inspired work often included subtle messages of hope and coming together as a community and as Hill contemplated the message he wanted to portray with his mural, the goal was to create a piece that could resonate with its audience beyond Juneteenth and the festival. He began to draw on the influences of what life is like in Oklahoma City such as being a loyal Thunder fan.

“You gotta have the Thunder,” Hill said with a smile.

He also reflected on Black history as a whole. He often found himself struggling with the idea of Black history so often being separate from what many know as American history. It was this realization that led him to incorporate an element he hadn’t yet put in his work – an American flag.

“Black history is American history. It’s an integral part of it,” Hill explained. “We as a people and our ancestors as well, we can’t be anything but American.”

All of these inspirations came together to create the completed mural featuring a young black boy holding an orange basketball while wearing a blue OKC jersey. The number 19 on the boy’s abdomen reflects the beloved June 19 holiday. Behind him, the American flag sprawls across the brick wall as words from Oklahoma native Ralph Ellison’s novel Juneteenth flanked the young boy’s right shoulder.

Even as an unfinished product, Hill’s mural accomplished the ultimate goal he set out to achieve – to spark conversation and bring people together even after Juneteenth had come and gone.

“I’d like to believe that [the mural] will add to what is already a proud community,” said Hill. “The east side is proud of being the east side, but let’s give them something else that reflects that.”

History in vibrant color

Opal’s Greenwood Oasis illustrated by Skip Hill

Connie Cronley Jan 29, 2021 0

How many people does it take to write a children’s book about Tulsa?

If the book is “Opal’s Greenwood Oasis,” set in 1921 in an almost idyllic Tulsa district on the eve of calamity, the answer is three. The three heavy hitters are a collaborative team with deep credentials in writing, illustration, education and a dedication to historical research.

Quraysh Ali Lansana, co-author and team leader, has written some 21 books of poetry and nonfiction and children’s literature, and studied Black Greenwood and the Tulsa Race Massacre for 17 years. He taught Civil War history to seventh- and eighth-grade students in Chicago’s South Side, “a war zone itself,” he says, so he knows how to make history engaging to youth.

Skip Hill, a mixed media artist presently based in Tulsa, scoured color advertisements of 1921 to make sure he had the right color palette of the period.

“We look at history through sepia tones,” he says, “but the past was full of vibrant color.” He combined drawings and historical photographs into a colorful collage so effectively, nearly every page is frame-able art.

Co-author Najah-Amatullah Hylton, an Oklahoma City high school teacher and poet, used her knowledge of literature to develop 8-year-old Opal into a strong and engaging protagonist. On her bicycle, Opal gives the reader a tour of real-life businesses and people thriving in a close and caring community and tells us, “In Greenwood, we have everything we need ...” It is one of the most important lines in the book, Hylton says. And one of the most heartbreaking for those who know the horror of the massacre.

TP_0220_QurayshAliLansana-12.jpg "Opal's Greenwood Oasis" is out Feb. 3.

Greg Bollinger The history of Black people is more than being slaves and subservient to Jim Crow laws, Hill says. It’s important for children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods — north Tulsa and elsewhere — to see a neighborhood like Opal’s thriving with economic vibrancy and cultural significance, Lansana says. This book is a way to “instill dreams in children to see a place like Greenwood in their lifetime.”

Opal’s Greenwood was not a once-upon-a-time fairytale. It was a real place. “Even in Oklahoma under incredible obstacles and challenges,” Hill says.

“I believe in looking back to look forward,” Hylton says. Her hope is the book will find its way to every public school and every public library and inspire people to look at the past and think of the future differently.

The team started working on the book in 2019, and it will publish Feb. 3. “Opal’s Greenwood Oasis,” published by Tulsa-based Calliope Group, was written for ages 7 to 12 but is of historic interest to adults. The book is available locally at Fulton Street Books and Coffee, Magic City Books, and online.

Skip Hill’s art navigates the world with love

By Doug Hill Jan 14, 2016

Skip Hill is a Norman artist whose art reflects the several cultures he has immersed himself in both literally and spiritually. He paints with oil and acrylic, draws with ink and graphite and makes collage, often incorporating all three in a single piece. Hill is a prolific creator and has been for decades.

His work can be found in private collections and public spaces around the globe. Time spent living in Brazil, Southeast Asia and North Africa is saliently reflected in his work. His talent has been celebrated in this place he calls home. Hill’s art is found in permanent residence at the Oklahoma State Arts Collection, the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Public Libraries. Central to his ability to touch people with these works is a sense of warm affection for the natural world and those in it.

“Much of modern art is wrapped around a particular concept of politics or even irony,” Hill said. “And for me, although I can swim in that ocean, quite frankly where my art comes from is a place of love.”

The simple beauty of orchids, doves, human eyes and the female figure are recurring images throughout his painting series. Recent titles include Love Garden, The Beautiful Moves in Curves (Bum Bum), La’ Vem a Noiva (Here Comes the Bride) and As Namoradas (Girlfriends).

“I believe there’s still room for beauty of line, color and composition even in the image saturated word that we live in,” Hill said. “I don’t have any other didactic agenda other than to get you to recognize the beauty of love, even in this crazy, often dark and ugly world.” These appealing concepts sing from his canvas and paper with delightful sensuality. Birds chirp, flowers blossom and comely bottoms undulate in Hill’s world.

Vivid color is meant to be enjoyed, dazzling the eye and tempting the imagination. Undoubtedly it was the warm and welcoming nature of places such as Rio de Janeiro and Bangkok that attracted Hill. They are ripe and receptive locales from which he’s drawn inspiration. Last year he was the recipient of a grant from the O. Gail Poole Travel Fund which was created by the late Norman artist’s daughter Nicole Poole and is administered by the Norman Arts Council.

“It was an honor for me to be the first person selected to receive a grant,” Hill said. “I went to Brazil to work with kids in a non-government organization’s arts house.” He’d met the arts house founder who is also an artist on an earlier trip to Brazil in 2012. Hill shared his artistic techniques and vision with children there which is something he’s done here in the U.S. as well.

“The project wasn’t necessarily me teaching kids how to do art,” he said. “The house is in the Rocinha favela and more than anything else the value for them was having the presence of people who care. It didn’t hurt that I looked like I could be a part of their community because I’m black and have dreadlocks.”

Often what Hill did was sit with a group as they watched in fascination as he drew pictures. Supplies such as drawing materials were an issue and some of his grant money was used for purchases. Hill has a project in the works to initiate a crowdfunding campaign to provide for the house’s annual budget of around $5,000 USD.

“It keeps the lights on, provides food and pays the few staff they have and that’s all the money they need for a year,” he said. “The idea wasn’t just for me to go to Brazil and come back. It was to establish a relationship. The University of Oklahoma is opening a campus there, too, and a couple involved with that were my hosts while I was there.” While in Rio he was also able to explore the city and revel in an incredibly vibrant arts scene.

Hill worked while there, with Brazil providing the milieu for his 2015 Jardim do Amor (Garden of Love) series. Back in Oklahoma he’s feeling the love. That has included purchase of some of his paintings by the Fowler Holding Company for display in their recently remodeled Volkswagen dealership offices.

“As an artist it’s wonderful to be embraced,” Hill said. “It’s rewarding and affirming because I’ve been invested here since I was eleven years old. Even though I’ve traveled the world I always find my way back to Norman.” and complimentary colors.

Reference

About Pickens Museum

Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. Seeking to attain his tribe's highest war honor by touching his enemy. This action among indigenous peoples is called "Counting Coup".
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. “Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp” is a bronze created by Osage Artist John Free. The bronze, eight feet high and twelve feet long) was enlarged to 1-1/4 life size through the efforts of John Free of the Bronze Horse foundry in Pawhuska and Hugh Pickens. Pictured (L-R): Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. “Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman” is a mural painted by fine artist Daniel Pickens. Daniel was born in Lima, Peru in 1974 and is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. This mural is at our Ponca City location.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. Our mural "The Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman" is located in City Central at our Ponca City location.
Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry and Art. Pickens Museum displays art works at NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College) This art is at our Tonkawa location
Native American Artist Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum.
The World's Largest Naja. Future location of Pickens Museum on Route 60 and "U" Street West of Ponca City
Architectural Renderings of Pickens Museum.
Aerial View from East of Future location of Pickens Museum along Route 60 at "U" Street West of Ponca City
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
Native American Jewelry Artist Tonya Rafael with a silver frame she created to honor my wife Sr. S.J. Pickens. My wife and Tonya worked together over the years creating new jewelry art pieces. My wife had an eye for color and would often design a spectacular piece and ask Tonya to execute it for her. A skilled silversmith, Tonya would sometimes stay in our guest house, set up a workshop, and work for days at a time on a Squash Blossom, Bolo, or Bracelet my wife commissioned. The piece is a silver picture frame that Tonya cut out of thick silver plate. Around the edge of the picture frame are 95 small turquoise stones. In the top is a large spiny oyster stone in the shape of a heart. The frame contains a photo that Tonya took of my wife a few years ago. Dr. Pickens is wearing one of her favorite outfits and if you look closely you can see a special squash blossom and necklace that Tonya created for my wife. In the bottom of the frame is an inscription.
Native American Artist Jolene Bird. Jolene Bird is an accomplished artist who learned her craft from her grandfather over 20 years ago. Jolene makes her jewelry in the tradition of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. This is a Fender Stratocaster guitar onto which Jolene has attached pieces of Kingman and Sonoran Turquoise highlighted with Jet. The stars are in Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Pipestone, Yellow Serpentine, and Spiny Oyster. The artistry in this piece is simply breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. Consider that this is a three dimensional mosaic, a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle if you will. Jolene told me that each individual piece of turquoise had to be cut, shaped, and ground down to fit perfectly with the other pieces. Each individual piece probably took six to eight hours to produce and there are literally hundreds of pieces covering the guitar.
American Indian by Paul Manship This piece at Pickens Museum is the only known existing copy of this sculpture.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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