|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Harold T. Holden, or "H" as he is called by many, was born in Enid, Oklahoma. Although "H" was the first professional fine artist in the family, he comes from a family of creative and talented inventors and engineers. In 1915, his great-grandfather George Failing invented the machine that creates the bottle cap that is still used on beverages today. His grandfather, oil pioneer George E. Failing, invented the first portable drilling rig, as well as numerous drilling bits, still used in the industry today. "H" credits his love of horses to his father who was an avid horseman.|
After graduating from Enid High School, "H" attended Oklahoma State University and graduated from the Texas Academy of Art in Houston. He then began his art career in the commercial art field, working in Wichita, Kansas and in Houston, Texas, and eventually took the position of art director at Horseman Magazine. While working during the day for other folks, "H" began his fine art career at night, painting and sculpting his first love, the West.
After a tour of duty with the Navy in the Vietnam War, "H" ventured out on his own in 1973, to try and make it as a professional fine artist. Commissions from the National Cattlemen's Association in 1982-1986 helped, and collectors began taking notice of his work.
"H" is a member of the Texas Cowboy Artists Association (TCA) and the National Western Artists Association and has received numerous gold medals in both organizations for his paintings and sculptures. He is known for his attention to detail, and particularly his sculptures of horses. Believing that an artist should know his subject matter, "H" spends much of his leisure time team roping and staying close to the cowboy way of life.
In 1987, "H" was chosen to sculpt a series of commemorative bronzes to depict the 165 year history of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma and Kansas. He has completed 9 monuments, the first being Boomer for the city of Enid, Oklahoma. This monument went on to become the official symbol of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma and Kansas by legislative decree, and was the symbol also used by "H" when he was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service to produce a commemorative US postage stamp for the Cherokee Strip, with 92,000,000 stamps being released on April 17, 1993.
In 1987, "H" completed his second monument, The Rancher, for the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas. Altus, Oklahoma, then commissioned "H" to sculpt a piece to commemorate their centennial which resulted in his Crossing the Red sculpture dedicated in November of 1991. On April 17,1993, "H's fourth monument, Holding the Claim, which is a companion piece to Boomer and commemorates the largest land run in history was unveiled in historic Government Springs Park in Enid, Oklahoma.
His fifth monument was commissioned by Security National Bank of Enid, Oklahoma, of a life-size Indian figure, Keeper of the Plains was unveiled in April, 1994, on the Garfield County Courthouse lawn. "H's" second Native American monument is a one and one fourth life size bronze entitled Vision Seeker. It was unveiled in Altus, OK in May of 1996 and in Enid, Oklahoma at Enid High School.
In June, 2000, "H's" Civil War monument of Corporal Noah van Buren Ness was unveiled in Ness City, Kansas. It was the first Civil War sculpture in Kansas in over 60 years
In October, 2000, Headin' to Market, "H's" life and one quarter monument was set outside the historic OKC stockyards at the corner of Agnew and Exchange in Oklahoma City.
His 10th public monument, a life and one quarter sculpture of Will Rogers horseback was dedicated on May 5th, 2005 at Will Rogers World Airport in OKC.
His 9th monument was a sculpture for Oklahoma State University entitled We Will Remember. This kneeling cowboy was commissioned as part of the OSU basketball team plane crash memorial and sits in Gallagher-Iba arena in Stillwater, Ok.
He is also the creator of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Associations “Vision Award” which is awarded each year to a ranching family that promotes the goals and ideals of the NCBA. In 2001 H. received the Governor’s Art Award from Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Sculpture Society.
While sculpture takes most of his time, he does try to find time to paint. His largest painting to date, a 5’ x 8’ painting of Western Oklahoma hangs in the Oklahoma State Capitol along with his oil paintings of Sheriff Bill Tilghman, Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton and Bill Pickett of the famed 101 Ranch.
He was voted in as a Professional Member of the National Sculpture Society in 2004 and has been completing several public monuments related to the Oklahoma State Centennial. H created a life size bucking horse for the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond which was dedicated April 25, 2006. His larger than life reclining Buffalo Monarch at Rest for the Oklahoma Historical Society building in Oklahoma City was dedicated November 4, 2005. In 2007 his life and one quarter sized running quarter horse World Champion was dedicated at the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds in Oklahoma City along with The Homesteaders, a life and one half sized pioneer family monument for Enid, Oklahoma. His first of 3 castings of the life and one quarter bucking horse and rider called The Ranger for Northwestern Oklahoma State University was dedicated on the Alva, Oklahoma campus in November with additional castings to be place on the Enid and Woodward campuses in 2008. H's life size running Bison Spirit for Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee was also dedicated in November of 2007.
He is working on a three figure sculpture for the Vance Air Force Association for Enid, Oklahoma which will feature a WWII pilot, a farmer and an Astronaut. His 7’ figure of Ed Gaylord for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City was dedicated in June 2006 during the Prix de West Invitational Art Show and Sale.
H is featured on the cover and in the Fall 2007 Oklahoma State University State magazine and in the October 2007 issue of Western Horseman magazine as well as in the November 2007 America's Horse magazine. In 2007 he was the Featured Artist and at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction and completed a one man show at the Oklahoma State University Foundation in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
One of his upcoming projects includes a life and one quarter size sculpture of U. S. Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves which will be located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This monument will depict the famous African American deputy astride his horse with his faithful canine companion close by. It is believed that this will be the first equestrian sculpture to be erected in Arkansas and is estimated to be completed in May of 2009.
H lives near Kremlin, Ok. with his wife Edna Mae.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
National Cattlemen’s Association
United States Postal Service
Oklahoma Historical Society
Oklahoma Centennial Commission
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Ranching Heritage Center
Oklahoma Arts Council
City of OKC – Will Rogers World Airport
Oklahoma State University
National Bank of Commerce
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Cutter Dan’s products
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma Baptist University
Air Force Association
Bass Reeves Initiative Project
Honorary Lifetime Member – Mountain Oyster Club
Professional Member of National Sculpture Society - 2004
Oklahoma’s Governors Art Award - 2001
Lifetime Achievement Award, Oklahoma Sculpture Society-1997
Addy Award – 1973
Distinguished OSU Alumni Award – 2005
May Fair Arts Festival Celebrated Artist – 2006 - Norman, OK
Best of Show – Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association
Director’s Trophy – Working Ranch Cowboy’s Assn.
Cattleman’s Western Art Show-CA. 2001
Featured Artist – Grand Junction Art Center - 2007
One man show - Oklahoma State University Foundation
Prix de West – Oklahoma City, Ok.
Masters of the American West – Los Angeles, Ca.
Cheyenne Frontier Days, - Cheyenne, Wy.
Peppertree Ranch Art Show – Santa Ynez, Ca.
Gilcrease Rendezvous – Tulsa, Ok.
Mountain Oyster Show – Tucson, Az.
Haley Memorial Library Show – Midland, Tx.
Trappings of the American West – Flagstaff, Az.
C. M Russell Show – Great Falls, Mt.
Submitted by Chris Ashworth on behalf of the artist's wife.
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