Meet the Artists
Robert Peterson (b. 1981) is a contemporary artist specializing in figurative painting with a concentration on portraiture. Currently living and working in Lawton, Oklahoma, Peterson is quickly rising as one of this country’s most celebrated emerging artists. He has exhibited his colorful works in some of this nation’s hottest art markets and around the world. He aims to create beautiful works of art that reflect a softer side of black people yet still shows their strength and resilience, something that he believes is not seen and exhibited enough throughout galleries and museums. Peterson’s work belongs in the permanent collections of the Philbrook Museum, Weisman Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Art St. Petersburg.
Born and raised on the Great Plains, Greg Erway senses a special connection to the continuing saga of this storied land. The people, animals, and landscape all play an integral part in the continuing saga and the taming of this great and wild land. They provide an infinite supply of inspiration for his art. Through the use of color and a mixture of technique and application, his subjects take on a unique life of their own, piecing together a narrative rich in history and lore. In 2021, Greg was commissioned to create a bison painting for the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. “Thunder and Rain” hangs in the newly decorated Oklahoma Room.
Figurative painter, Lauren Florence, explores the intricate relationships between people and animals in her work. Often working from vintage photographs, Lauren combines elements, layers, and vibrant color to create a narrative in each piece, working toward moments of awe or wonder. I want to create work that is immediately joyful, with narratives that give the viewer pause, pique their interest, and transport them in a positive way.
Lauren grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and was influenced at an early age by the wonderful art collection, both Native and non-Native, held at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Refuge just a few miles away. The wildlife and people of that area still play a substantial role in her work today. Lauren has a BFA in Textile Design from the University of Kansas, and began painting in her early 40s.
Farooq Karim joined REES in April 1993 and currently holds the position of the Vice-President Senior Director of Design. Farooq is married to Blossom Crews has a step son Ed and two sons, Zane and Adam. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oklahoma and is a registered architect and interior designer with over 27 years of experience. Farooq is a member of the American Institute of Architects, International Interior Design Association, is a LEED Accredited Professional. Farooq has been with REES for 27 years and been involved in over 350 projects in the state of Oklahoma, across the United States and internationally.
Farooq has served on the boards and volunteered with numerous non-profit organizations. He is passionate about the arts and is a member artist with OVAC (Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition). Farooq is also a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City class XXVIII, Leadership Norman 2016 and Leadership Oklahoma Class XXX.
Farooq finally took his art public in 2016 and he has participated as an artist in events such as the Omelet Party for The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Artini, 12×12, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Norman Moveable Feast, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Heroes Ball, and the Planned Parenthood Great Plains Choices Even.
Shailah Red Elk-Ramos
Shailah Red Elk-Ramos is a Southwest Oklahoma native and a proud Comanche Nation Tribal citizen who works as the Prevention Specialist and Program Coordinator for the Comanche Nation Prevention and Recovery Center. Ramos is currently enrolled at Cameron University Graduate School completing her Behavioral Science Degree to further her dedication to the passion of helping others reach their mental and spiritual goals. Being a self-taught artist Ramos has progressed quickly in the last ten years, evolving with her craft and creating a reputation of originality, uniqueness, and creativity. Owning her well-known company, The Native Hippy, she is able to create art and give it away. Shailah’s love for the arts, telling a story, and sharing a vision shows in her work and in life making her one of Oklahoma’s very unique artists. Ramos is happily married to Ronald Ramos, they share a beautiful daughter, Danni and son, Nacona.
Madison Summerlin is a mixed-media abstract artist based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Madison has been passionate about abstract art for most of her life. Raised on her grandparents ranch in McAlester, Oklahoma, she spent many summer days quilting with her grandmother. Madison believes working with her hands at such a young age sparked her creativity. The inspiration for Madison’s work and her recognizable collection, The Dawt Studies, comes from her attraction to color relationships, pattern, and organic shapes. Madison hopes that by using her art to illustrate beauty in imperfections and differences, she can inspire viewers to see the beauty in the differences of the people that surround them. Madison believes that by loving one another in our truest form we, in turn, learn what it means to truly love.
Josh Waddell, artist and owner of 3 Bulls Upcycling, is located in northeast Oklahoma. He creates all sorts of fun and unique pieces including found object art, robots, custom Bluetooth speakers, upcycled lighting, and industrial style furniture. If you have an idea, Josh can probably create it! He once created a lamp out of an antique embalming machine and a Bluetooth speaker from a 1961 fisher price toy phone.
The idea of 3 Bulls UPcycling initially began as a project to help as a fundraiser for the local public school system. Josh created an industrial lamp, that was very popular at the fundraiser auction. A bidding war ensued, and then after the auction, several people asked him to make something similar. The rest is upcycling history.
The name for Josh’s small business, 3 Bulls UPcycling happened by chance after Josh (the big bull) and his two sons (the other bulls) referred to the trio as the 3 bulls. The name 3 Bulls stuck. He is supported in his artistry and business by his wife Kathy, and Josh is committed to supporting local social service agencies and nonprofit organizations through creation of unique pieces of art that help generate funding.
Dean Wilhite was born in Olton, Texas. He works in acrylics and watercolors. Light and shadow are Wilhite’s great love. Getting the shadow detail right is the key to a successful painting. And the perfect highlight can be magic.
From childhood to life as an adult, he has looked for images that make him pause and reflect on events from his life. A shadow that crossed the old farm road he traveled down on his granddad’s farm, or the window shade on the house next door casting its long afternoon shadow on the siding boards, reaching the viewer with his memories and taking them on a journey back in time to their own is the goal.
Wilhite studied graphic design at OSU Okmulgee. He has worked as a graphic designer in studios and ad agencies, doing photo retouching, illustration, production art and logo design. Wilhite has been published in national design journals and books, and worked across a wide range of design disciplines. The illustrative work Wilhite did for the award winning BancFirst television campaign, featuring small towns in Oklahoma, are examples of the bold color pallet that is ever present in his work. In 2017 Wilhite was the Urban Core Feature Artist at Verbode in Oklahoma City.
Barbara Benton, born in Enid, Oklahoma, was a stay-at-home mom to her three children for thirteen years before returning to school and eventually graduating with a BFA from University of Central Oklahoma in 2022. When she began her studies, her interest was in the field of education with a plan to teach kindergarten before falling in love with painting, and later ceramics, and consequently changing her major to studio art.
Before pursuing a degree, Benton found creative outlet in sewing special occasion clothing and costumes for her children and making quilts as gifts for loved ones. Moving from textiles to paint, the importance of people, and especially family, have remained central to her work, as well as joy and wonder at the beauty found in the world around us.
Working in an “alla prima” style, Benton uses loose brushwork and gestural marks to capture a spirit of movement and life in her work as she aims to not only convey how she sees, but also how she feels about what she is seeing. Her approach to artmaking tends to be intuitive, finding creative freedom in being guided by feeling.