Listening Back, Dreaming Forward Mural
101 E Grand Ave
In 2010, Kansas artist Dave Loewenstein headed to Tonkawa to create a mural celebrating its past and present history. The Mid-America Arts Alliance partnered with the Oklahoma Arts Council to bring this “Listening Back, Dreaming Forward: The Rhythms of Tonkawa” mural to this rural Oklahoma town. Loewenstein and Mid-America Arts Alliance stressed the importance of community involvement every step of the way, from holding community meetings and brainstorming elements of the mural to teaming up with locals to assist with the design and painting processes. The committee even canvassed the town to get input from citizens before landing on the idea to reflect on the past while also looking ahead to the future.
The final design features five separate panels, some of which include actual Tonkawa residents. The first panel highlights local resident Max Carr, who once delivered newspapers to rural Kay Country farms from his airplane. The second panel depicts Tonkawa Tribe member Railroad Cisco sharing the story of his tribe’s trek across Texas to Oklahoma in the 1880s, shortly before the 1893 Land Run took place. The third panel shows Tonkawa Tribe members creating beats on traditional drums, including giant heart-shaped hands that visually merge the past with the present and future. The fourth panel represents current-day locals working to improve Tonkawa by repairing, painting and brainstorming around a coffee table. The fifth and final panel of this mural represents Tonkawa creativity, backlit against an outdoor movie projection.