An exhibit of paintings and prints by noted artist D.J. “Pete” Lafon, all from the Lafon family’s private collection, will open with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. June 5 [TUESDAY] in the Pogue Gallery in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center at East Central University in Ada.
The reception is open to the public. The exhibit, “D.J. Lafon: A Retrospective,” will continue through August 31.
Lafon, who was chair of ECU’s Art Department from 1964 to 1984, died in Norman last January at age 81.
The show will be a mix of familiar works, others that have not been exhibited for quite a while and some that may never have been seen by the public, said gallery director Taryn Chubb.
“We have been planning this exhibit since he died last winter as a way to celebrate his life and honor his legacy since he taught at ECU for 20 years and had an impact on so many students,” Chubb said.
One of Lafon’s ECU students, Vance Wingate, the guest curator for the show, has chosen a wide range of Lafon's figural work dating from the 1960s. Wingate teaches and is gallery director at Texas Woman's University.
In June ECU plans to install “Shaker Man,” a 12-foot redwood sculpture Lafon made in the 1970s for the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art and Art History.
“It was later transferred to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at OU, but they did not have an appropriate space in which to exhibit it,” Chubb said, “so they offered to transfer it to us because he taught at ECU for so long.”
It will be installed in front of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
Lafon, born and raised in Utah, realized at age 15 that he wanted to be an artist. He began making a living as an artist at age 18 and also won second place in a national art competition. He was featured by Life Magazine as one of America's top emerging artists in 1951.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts degrees in 1960 and 1962 from the University of Utah. He worked as an illustrator and art editor and taught painting and drawing before assuming the chairmanship of ECU’s Art Department in 1964.
Lafon retired from teaching in 1984 and established a studio in Norman. He had served as the visual arts director for the Oklahoma Arts Institute and was a guest artist at several universities.
His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and has been acquired by museums, galleries and public collections, including the state art collections of Oklahoma and Utah, the University of North Carolina Art Museum, Springfield Art Museum, Oklahoma City Art Museum, Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Conoco and Koch Industries.
Lafon also completed public commissions for the Ada Public Library, Warner Brothers and the OU School of Dentistry.
Among his many honors and awards were a Governor’s Arts Award in 1992 and the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Paseo Arts Association.
At ECU, Lafon led “the Ada Trio” with two other ECU art faculty members, Bob Sieg and Bob Barker. They exhibited their work widely throughout the region and into the Southwest and were quite well known.
A fund established through the ECU Foundation Inc. honors the Ada Trio and benefits the Ada Trio Award which is presented by the art faculty each year to an outstanding art student.
Contributions to this fund in memory of D.J. Lafon may be sent to the foundation at 1100 E. 14th, PMB Y-8, Ada, OK 74820. Contributions also may be made online athttp://www.ecok.edu/foundation/how_to_donate.htm. For information, call the foundation at 580-559-5514 or 580-559-5655.