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OCU Welcomes Artist in Residence

One of Oklahoma’s most recognized painters will be the distinguished artist in residence for two years at Oklahoma City University beginning in the fall semester.

Mike Wimmer, who painted many of the works in the state Capitol Building, will bring his skills to the Norick Art Center in OCU’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences to teach classes and workshops.

OCU President Robert Henry said students will gain from Wimmer’s talent and work ethic.

“Mike Wimmer is one of our state’s most prolific and talented artists. He is recognized throughout the world for his large array of public art and commercial art projects,” Henry said. “Whenever I visit the state Capitol Building, I always find time to stop and admire his many works. Our students will benefit by learning from and getting to know such a successful professional.”

Born and raised in Muskogee, Wimmer began his studies at the University of Oklahoma and finished his Masters in Fine Arts degree at the University of Hartford Art School in Connecticut.

He began his career as an apprentice at the renowned Sketch Pad Studio in Arlington, Texas, with Don Ivan Punchatz as his mentor. He later returned to Norman and set up his own studio.

He started working on a national scale primarily as a children’s book illustrator. His first major project was “Train Song” by Diane Siebert, which won the Redbook Best Book award in 1990. He illustrated several other children’s books before working on two books by former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating — “Will Rogers” and “Theodore.”

His other projects include creating a “more kind and gentle Mr. Clean” for the popular cleaning products company, the cover art for Disney’s “Lion King” soundtrack, commemorative can designs for Planters Peanuts, an ornament featuring Will Rogers to hang on the White House Christmas tree as Oklahoma’s representative and the large historic murals in the state Capitol Building.

Wimmer has been travelling to elementary, junior high and high schools across the country since 1990 to host workshops and speak with children about being an artist. He helped Oklahoma win 50,000 new books for children in a nationwide contest sponsored by First Book.

Wimmer credits his early morning routine of drinking hot tea and reading mystery stories as his way of getting into “a creative frame of mind.” He said he is looking forward to giving such tips and more professional advice to college art students.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to share my experience and expertise with the students at OCU,” he said. “The reputation of OCU’s commitment to the arts is unequaled in the area and I hope to help be a small part in continuing that commitment to learning and professionalism in the fine arts.”