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    Family of Keystone Powerhouse muralist see mural in person for first time

    Family of Keystone Powerhouse muralist see mural in person for first timw

    Photo By Stacey Reese | Artist Jay O'Meilia painted this mural on site between 1971-1972 at the Keystone Lake...... read more read more



    Story by Stacey Reese 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District

    TULSA, Okla. — More than a half century after Jay O’Meilia painted a mural in the visitors center at Keystone Lake powerhouse his children, a son-inlaw and two of his grandchildren were able to view the artist’s work in person for the first time.

    Though all of his children still live in the Tulsa area this was their first opportunity to see this particular work and to learn about the mural program commissioned by the Corps of Engineers when the powerhouses were built.

    “Having only seen photos of this unique project, it was so cool to see everything in real life,” said O’Meilia’s son Matt. “I’m so glad all my siblings and two of my children were able to see it together.”

    “When the Keystone powerhouse was built, all of the powerhouses were being built with a visitors center,” said Earl Groves former chief of operations for Tulsa District Corps of Engineers. “The murals were conceived to tell the story of that particular powerhouse and the area surrounding that particular lake.

    Artists had to submit a sketch of their concept for the murals. The only direction for the concept was to envision what the dam and powerhouse mean to the community and that part of the state.

    “His concept sprang from the engineers who developed the west and how this part of Oklahoma would be transformed by the lake,” said Groves.
    “Canton, Fort Supply, and Great Salt Plains were in existence but were so much smaller and not of large economic impact like the Keystone powerhouse would be.”

    O’Meilia paid homage to such things as engineers, cattle, and power lines all things he saw of major importance in the history of the area surrounding the powerhouse as well as the future of the structure.

    However, the focal point of the mural is the large Native American standing larger than the other figures in a place of honor near the center of the painting.

    The figure is surrounded by early engineers, hunters, and wildlife local to the area. A smaller native American figure is depicted painting a buffalo hide, showing the importance of the animal to all aspects of their lives.

    The mural was painted on location from 1971-1972 bringing to life his vision of what happened in the area before construction of the dam.

    Over the years, the artist was invited back to the powerhouse to speak to visiting groups about his work including students from the University of Tulsa art school and various engineering groups.

    Keystone Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act approved May 17, 1950, Public Law 516, 81st Congress, 2d Session. It is located on the Arkansas River at river mile 538.8 and is about 15 miles west of the City of Tulsa.

    Authorize purposes of the project are flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power, navigation, fish and wildlife, and recreation.

    Construction began in January 1957 and the project was placed in flood control operation in September 1964. Both initial and capacity electricity generation were achieved in 1968.



    Date Taken: 04.24.2023
    Date Posted: 04.24.2023 13:43
    Story ID: 443246
    Location: TULSA, OK, US 

    Web Views: 58
    Downloads: 0