Mike Larsen

Bio

Mike Larsen, a student of history, immerses himself in the past events of the subjects he paints and sculpts. He knew early what he wanted to do with his life and even the teacher that told him to find another line of work because he had no talent couldn’t douse his drive. He has achieved that goal by being a professional fine artist for over 40 years.  The past thirty years galleries through out the United States have represented him and while still represented by galleries of note, he now spends most of his time painting and sculpting privately commissioned work for collectors across the United States. Mike studied traditional art disciplines, beginning his training at Amarillo Junior College, continuing at the University of Houston, and concluding at the prestigious Arts Student League in New York City.  Mike is well known for his use of exaggerated hand size.  Though this trademark began in a sculpture class in Houston and without planning, he has carried it forward and it is one way to quickly identify a Larsen painting. The mural “Flight of Spirit” was unveiled at the Capitol in 1991. Mike’s love for painting and sculpting dancing figures began then - when he painted the 26 foot long mural for the State Capitol Rotunda of five internationally prominent ballet dancers, all Native American and born in the state.  The mid 1990’s brought Mike’s epic series called “Shamans of the Nations”.  He painted 36 of the 39 federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma, which hung in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  By the year 2000, Mike had been commissioned by the Oklahoma Institute of Art to paint eight murals for the new Quartz Mountain Lodge in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. In the year 2000, Mike was inducted in The Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was commissioned by the University of Oklahoma to paint six murals for the Reynolds Performing Arts Center and the OU School of Dance. In 2004, his own tribe The Chickasaw Nation commissioned Mike, to paint portraits of 24 Living Elders.  Mike and his wife Martha, together with a tribal facilitator traveled all over Chickasaw Country to interview, photograph and sketch these treasures.  The series turned into the book, “They Know Who They Are”.  The collection proved to be so popular with the Nation that another 24 paintings and another book were commissioned – “I’m Am Proud to be Chickasaw”. When they moved to Payne County Oklahoma, Mike and Martha were finally introduced to the beautiful sunrises of Oklahoma that were not visible in the City.  Mike painted a few sunrises and Martha photographed them and placed them on their website.  Days later, Mike was contacted by the US Postal Service, who at that time was viewing his paintings on their website and wanted to talk with him about the possibility of producing the Oklahoma Centennial Postage Stamp.  Of course, Mike said yes.  It was a two-year process and the stamp was released early in 2007. In 2006, Mike was named Oklahoman of the Year by the state’s official magazine – “Oklahoma Today.”  In 2007, two monumental bronzes were unveiled at the Oklahoma City Civic Center representing the arts in Oklahoma that were commissioned by the Oklahoma Centennial Committee. Also in 2007, the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi Tribe needed a muralist to paint the Tribe’s history for their casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.  Mike was commissioned and painted eight, 8 ft. by 20 ft. murals. In the summer of 2010 he completed a 12-foot sculpture unveiled at the St. Joseph Regional Healthcare System in Patterson, NJ.  It is twice life size with four figures representing the health care givers and those they attend. In 2015 Mike was installed in The Oklahoma Hall of Fame followed by installation into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame in 2016. One of the highlights of Mike’s career has been to create a monumental sized bronze depicting the arrival of a Chickasaw family to their new land in Indian Territory.  This bronze titled “The Arrival”, was unveiled in October of 2012, is located at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. 2017 brought the installation of a new monumental bronze located at the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center in Sulphur, OK.  Titled “Victorious” it portrays a Chickasaw warrior atop a horse.  Driving up to the Conference Center, one is welcomed by the rider and horse.  Beginning in 2018 Mike will serve on the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Hall of Fame.    

Accolades

  • 2017 Monument, Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center in Sulphur, OK
  • 2010 St. Joseph Regional Healthcare System in Patterson, NJ
  • 2007 Oklahoma Centennial Postage Stamp
  • 2000 The Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame

Artwork

Dreams of Greasy Grass
Glass Horse
Prophecy
Stone Horse
Study for the Raven
Young Warrior