Oklahoma City – A new exhibit in the State Capitol honors visual artist D.J. Lafon, a noted member of the Oklahoma arts community who passed away in January. The exhibit in the Capitol’s East Gallery, which features several of Lafon’s recent works in a series about people of influence, will run through May 8, 2011.

Located on the first floor of the Capitol, the East Gallery is free and open to the public weekdays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While businessmen are the primary subjects of Lafon’s pieces included in the exhibit, the artist also completed works focusing on military leaders, popes and politicians for the series.

Regarding his renderings of businessmen, Lafon stated, “One of the most mysterious and difficult things is people. Why do they do what they do? I used to spend a lot of time looking through magazines to see ‘what is General so and so doing? And what is this person doing?’ And you do hear a little bit about businessmen now, but we really don’t know what they do. I don’t know what they do really behind closed doors. They are kind of mysterious.”

Born in 1929, Lafon began making a living as an artist at the age of 18 and was named one of America’s top emerging artists by Life magazine in 1951. In 1964 he assumed the chairmanship of the Art Department at East Central University in Ada, retiring from teaching in 1984 to devote himself to his craft full-time.

His work has been acquired by museums, galleries, and public collections in Oklahoma and throughout the United States, including the State Art Collections of Oklahoma and Utah, the University of North Carolina Art Museum, Springfield Art Museum, Oklahoma City Art Museum, Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Conoco and Koch Industries.

Lafon also completed various public commissions for Warner Brothers, the University of Oklahoma School of Dentistry, and the Ada Public Library, among others. Lafon has been represented by JRB Art at the Elms in Oklahoma City since 2003.

Lafon’s legacy as an Oklahoma artist includes his service as the Visual Arts Director for the Oklahoma Arts Institute. He received numerous honors and awards including a Governor’s Arts Award in 1992 and the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Paseo Arts Association.

A memorial to celebrate Lafon’s life and work will be held March 11, 2011 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.


The exhibit, courtesy of JRB Art at the Elms, is sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council. For more information contact Alyson Atchison at (405) 521-2931 or alyson.atchison@arts.ok.gov.