Bold new ‘Oklahoma’ Mural Makes First Impression at Tulsa International Airport

GTR Media Group photo
BEAUTIFUL FINISH: Alexander Tamahn with his assistant from Tulsa’s Black Moon Collective is all smiles as he finishes his painting in May at the Tulsa International Airport.

Tulsa artist Alexander Tamahn was elated by the recent news that his mural design was selected through the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Art in Public Places program to serve as the first impression of Oklahoma for visitors from across the world arriving at the Tulsa International Airport.
“I am honored and absolutely thrilled to have my work make one of the first impressions travelers to the State of Oklahoma will experience,” Tamahn said. “I hope they will appreciate the beauty here and will take from it the joy and good energy that went into creating this new work of art.”
Beginning May 12, Tamahn spent about a week painting his 23-foot-wide “Oklahoma Welcomes You” mural in concourse B at the airport. Tamahn was one of 29 Oklahoma artists who submitted ideas for the project, which is being led by the Oklahoma Arts Council in collaboration with the Office of Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust. The project is tied to the new state brand and logo, which were unveiled by Pinnell in 2020.
“Oklahoma is a creative and innovative state, and through this mural project we are ensuring visitors have that impression of us from the moment they step off an airplane,” said Pinnell, who serves as Secretary of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage. “Our new state brand and logo were designed to reflect Oklahoma’s enterprising spirit and its vibrant culture. Alexander’s interpretation of the new state brand does a marvelous job of conveying this.”
“Oklahoma artists play a crucial role in creating a positive and lasting impression for visitors to our state,” said Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples. “Leveraging the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program ensured a community-centered process and resulted in an exciting and dynamic design. Alexander brought a thoughtful approach to his concept, where the state logo as the sun is a powerful metaphor for renaissance and renewal, welcoming visitors while reminding Oklahomans of the home they love.”
In addition to emphasizing Oklahoma’s diverse ecological regions in his design, Tamahn said he incorporated an aesthetic similar to traditional quilt patterns, an aesthetic in which he sees similarities to the military-inspired star at the center of the new state logo.
“I wanted the composition to include vivid, complementary colors that spoke the beauty and diversity of the land here in Oklahoma,” said Tamahn, citing his research for the project into the nuance of quilts.
With a bold color palette and the phrase “Oklahoma Welcomes You,” the mural’s message will be impossible to miss for the nearly 2,500 travelers who pass through concourse B at the airport every day.
Alexis Higgins, CEO of Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust, said, “We believe by providing the space to highlight a local Tulsa artist and showcasing their talent is a wonderful asset to our airport, our community, and the state as a whole. The mural itself will be able to provide our travelers with a quick glimpse into what they can expect to see in Oklahoma when they arrive: beautiful terrains, diverse landscapes, and most importantly, Oklahoma hospitality that you can only understand once you have visited.”
“This is such a significant moment in time, with the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre,” said Tamahn. “There will be a tremendous influx of travelers to Tulsa because of this, and it’s almost overwhelming to know my work will potentially impact their experience shortly after their landing.”