By TATYANA NYBORG
CHRISTOPHER MANTLE SKETCHES: Christopher Mantle shares his favorite drawings in a sketch portfolio from his youth. Mantle says this one doesn’t really have a name, but it reminds him of something that might be approved of by Picasso. In the background are multiple paintings by Mantle.
Photos by SHARON CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
The purpose of this article is to introduce a young talented artist, Christopher Mantle. The artist moved to Tulsa from Louisiana several months ago. He stays with friends here and sells his art at bargain rates. Mantle has worked as a sand-blaster and a clubhouse chef. He has even found a way of expressing his art as a welder and a landscaper.
Mantle may be the only artist in Tulsa who combines different materials in his works such as inks, crayons, pastels, oils, temperas and acrylics. For Mantle, there is no problem to combine these elements into a single work of art.
It is surprising what one can see in Mantle’s paintings. Real and surreal lives exist together, as, for example, in the painting Eye Hope with a large eye iris in the center and mushroom shaped buildings, matches, angels, little green dancing people and many other familiar or strange subjects around the eye.
With the other works, the artist painted human-shaped figures, which represent souls. One such picture is the Swamp Soul. “It is a part of a larger series called Soul’s Mechanics, which is supposed to evoke positive spirituality,” he explains. Mantle is only 20 years old and is in the process of stormy spiritual investigations, which is reflected in his art.
Mantle is a featured artist of the Seekers gallery, which recently opened on 15th Street near Delaware Avenue in Tulsa. “I take a little bit from the masters and local artists and create my own style. I have a fresh, cutting edge with art. Most of my pictures are abstract or surreal. All paintings represent me and my thoughts,” he says.
Seekers is comprised of a group of creative people, each looking for self expression in art. The owner of the gallery, Nanette Hummel, was the person who invited Mantle to join the Seekers after observing his works. Hummel’s friendly help was of great importance to the young artist.
Mantle discusses his difficult past. “I had a tough childhood. I was one of six children. My mother moved a lot, so I had to change many schools. Sometimes I changed three or four schools in one year. It was a hard thing to do because I had to constantly adapt to new schools and find new friends. So I was by myself a lot and felt outcast. And we were poor most of the time.”
Mantle colored and drew much of the time while growing up. His talent was noticed in the first grade, when he began to draw famous cartoon characters well. The boy lived far away from his father, who had a hobby of drawing, until the age of 12. His father sent him letters with his drawings and influenced the son tremendously. From 12 to 17 years old, Mantle lived with his father in a trailer in a rural area of Louisiana. He drew a lot in his little room, and was amazed at the images he created.
Unstable living conditions can sometimes push kids on to the streets. With Mantle, it was the opposite. He tried to absorb the positives. He is well acquainted with various religions, including Catholicism, Pentecostalism and Apostolistic Christianity
As a schoolboy, Mantle attended different youth art competitions and participated in art associations. He led his group of teenage artists at those competitions and got awards for his works at the state fair and county school competitions in art in Louisiana. Mantle is very thankful to his school teachers who encouraged him to be an artist.
Now, a big dream of the young talent is to become a student of a famous art institute in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston or San Francisco, and visit famous museums of the world. Mantle believes that art contributes to a better world, and says, “My art is a door to my soul.”
Seekers is located at 2735 E. 15th St. in Tulsa. The phone number is 744-0028.