In late December, Oklahoma City police were searching for the person responsible for stealing a mural outside of City Hall. Police said they located the mural and returned it to the artist.
The artist said her mural, Sacred Fire Woman, was part of the Arts Council’s Fresh Paint: OKC NYE competition. She said the same day she learned the police found it was the same day she won the competition.
Through art, Savannah Tallbear said she shares her story.
“I’m white, but I’m Native but I’m Mexican as well so there’s lots of cultures for me to embrace,” Tallbear said.
Her latest mural depicts an indigenous woman dancing in the Badlands and reflecting on Bear Butt, two parks in South Dakota that are significant to Native culture.
“It’s still a continuation of our connectedness and you know, just showcasing what we can do as people,” Tallbear said.
The mural was one of several on display outside of City Hall for an Arts Council competition. Folks were directed to vote online for their favorite piece, however, one person decided to take their favorite.
“I didn’t know what to think I think, I was just shellshocked the whole time,” Tallbear said.
Surveillance photos show a car going to downtown Oklahoma City and leaving with Tallbear’s mural, which police said was 8 feet by 8 feet.
“To see it was kind of just put on a little tiny Honda it was like an episode of Looney Tunes. I didn’t expect to see it again so all’s well that ends well I guess,” Tallbear said.
A few weeks later, the Arts Council called with both good news and bad news. The good news being they found her painting and she won the competition, but the bad news is it’s slightly damaged.
“The person who took it did take it just because she wanted it, but she didn’t measure her ceilings, so she cut off part of the top,” Tallbear said.
Tallbear said the opportunity to share her work is what she’s most thankful for.
“I think I’ll be mentoring at the end of this year for the next round of participants. So, I think that’s really cool,” Tallbear said.
Tallbear said while it’s been a very up-and-down couple of weeks, her piece can be repaired to its former glory. The Art Council said they are continuing to work with police on their investigation.