Thursday, July 02, 2020

The 10th Lungaversary of Western Artist H. Holden

H. Holden
We held hands and prayed.

Oklahoma's most celebrated Western sculptor was dying.

It was the early spring of 2010.

I took hold of Harold's hand.  Edna Mae, Harold's wife, joined us in the circle of prayer. We bowed our heads. But before we prayed, I looked up and focused on them intently.

Frederic Remington once revealed the secret of his art by saying, "the more I looked, the more the panorama unfolded."

The artist from Oklahoma who most resembles Remington is a man named Harold Holden. His family and friends call him "H."

I remember the moment we held hands and prayed because, as I looked at H. and his wife Edna Mae,  the panorama of God's beauty unfolded before me.

We were in H's studio in Kremlin, just north of Enid.

H. and Edna Mae had asked me to invoke God's grace on behalf of H.

H. had a fatal lung disease. They were considering closing his studio at his doctor's suggestion and getting his "affairs in order."

But the three of us weren't convinced that God was through with H - yet.

So I prayed.

H. and Edna Mae have faith a deep in God. It's not the syrupy, slap-stick faith that you often see in religious institutions.

It's the deep, abiding faith that is "shut-up" in a person's private closet or personal dwelling.

It's real.

Just a few weeks after we prayed, on July 2, 2010, H. received a lifesaving single lung transplant at the Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Center in Oklahoma City.

H. and Edna Mae received the call at 8:02 am, July 2, 2010. The family of an Oklahoman who'd died suddenly had donated their loved one's lungs.

It's been 10 years to the minute since that call.

Today, July 2, 2020, is the 10th Lungaversary for H. Holden.

The man who shouldn't have lived another month is celebrating another decade of serving the people of Oklahoma. He's finishing a T. Boone Pickens monument as I write this. He is waiting for the official approval of a sculptured buffaloe for Mo and Richard Anderson, a statue that will be placed in Waukomis, Oklahoma, at the beautiful Buffalo Point.

H. is working like a man of 20, sixty years less than his actual age.

Edna Mae is having a Lungaversary Party today for Oklahoma's most celebrated Western artist and sculptor to celebrate a decade long extension of his life. The Lord is making sure there's more to come from the heart, mind, and hands of H. Holden.

I am honored to call H. and Edna Mae Holden my friends. I am grateful for all they've done for the state of Oklahoma.

You may not know H. personally, but you know him through his art...


Wade and H - with "Thank You Lord" mold behind (studio)
When you enter the west auditorium doors at Emmanuel Enid, or when you visit the gardens outside the Emergency Room of the Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Center at Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City, you'll see the six-foot bronze statue made by H. Holden called “Thank You, Lord.” The "Thank you Lord" statue is a self-portrait that H. created.

H. made this statue after his lung transplant as a visual demonstration of his gratefulness to God for His goodness. Every time I see "Thank you Lord," I am reminded that the English name for "God" is nothing but a derivative and contraction of the English word "Good." 

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

Thank You, Lord, at Emmanuel Enid (West Entrance)

Will Rogers International Airport

Every time you park your car and walk into the terminal of Will Rogers International Airport, you will see H. Holden's life-size statue of Will Rogers. 

H. Holden's Will Rogers Statue at Will Rogers International Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Enid Event Center and BOOMER

Every time you park your car and walk into the Enid Event Center, you'll see H's lifesize statue of BOOMER, representing those cowboys who rode their horses to "stake a claim" of 160 acres of land in Oklahoma during the 1889 and 1893 Land Runs.

H. Holden's BOOMER in front of the Enid Event Center

BOOMER also grace the United States Postal Office 1993 stamp (very collectible). 

The U.S. Postal Service 1993 Stamp "Boomer" in Commemoration of the 1893 Land Run

The United States Federal Marshall Museum

Entering Fort Smith, Arkansas, driving over the bridge spanning the Arkansas River, you will see H. Holden's life-size statue of Bass Reeves. The United States Marshals Service National Museum is in Fort Smith, and the story of Bass Reeves is motion-picture worthy. It is H. Holden that made the art that commemorates the greatest U.S. Federal Marshal in history.

Bass Reeves Monument, Fort Smith, Arkansas, the National Museum of Federal Marshal's (H. Holden Statue)
This is a bronze that H. finished after his lung transplant. It was my privilege to be there at the dedication and to meet the grandson of Bass Reeves, now a U.S. Federal judge. 

Federal Judge Paul Brady, Wade Burleson, H. Holden at the dedication of the Reeves' Statue (Fort Smith, Arkansas (2012)

Remember the TEN

Every time you walk into Gallahger Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma, you'll see H's work in the lobby with the moving statue Remember the Ten.

T. Boone Pickens commissioned H for a bronze to commemorate the 10 people from Oklahoma State University's basketball team who died in a plane crash on January 27, 2001

Remember the Ten, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

The Cherokee Strip Crucible, Representing the Pioneer Families

Every time you drive by the Smithsonian certified Cherokee Strip Heritage Museum on Highway 412 in Enid, Oklahoma, you will see another bronze that has been sculpted by H. Holden. It represents all the pioneer families that settled the Cherokee Outlet in the Land Run of 1893. 

The Cherokee Strip Crucible, Representing the Pioneer Families of the 1893 Land Run

The Vision Seeker, Enid High School

H. Holden's second Native American monument is called The Vision Seeker. The statue depicts a Native American Plains Indian in full headdress, sitting cross-legged while looking into the distance as he ponders a vision. The original Vision Seeker is located in Altus, Oklahoma, and was commissioned by the National Bank of Commerce. The statue was unveiled in May of 1996. The second casting sits outside of Enid High School and was placed at the north entrance in 1998.

The Vision Seeker at Enid High School

H. Holden has many more works of art, both public and private. His commissions include:

National Bank of Commerce
United States Postal Service
Oklahoma Arts Council
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma State University
American Quarter Horse Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Ranching Heritage Center
Ward Petroleum Company
Johnston Grain Company
Archer-Daniels Midland Company
City of Owasso
Air Force Association
Keystone Resort – Keystone Colorado
Hughes Drilling Company
Oklahoma Centennial Commission
City of OKC – Will Rogers World Airport
Oklahoma History Center
University of Central Oklahoma
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma Baptist University
Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

H.'s great grandfather, Geoge E. Failing, invented the "bottle cap" that still sits on top of every glass beverage bottle. Every time I pop the top of a beverage or drive by a work of art made with the hands of H. Holden, I thank the Lord for His grace to H. and Edna Mae.

The H. Holden Art Studio is located in downtown Enid, Oklahoma, at 128 N. Independence. It's worth a trip to purchase some art from a man that is likely to be more known after the Lord calls him home than he is today. 

Tim Holden, H's son, is an exemplary artist himself, and Emmanuel Enid has supported Tim over the years as he shares the gospel of Jesus Christ through art to tribes that have no written language. 

Happy 10th Lungaversary H. Holden.

Edna Mae requested that I repost this tribute in honor of this significant date. July 2, 2020, is a day all Oklahomans celebrate God's grace in your life.

May your beautiful craft of remembrance continue for years to come for the common good of the great state of Oklahoma!


Christiane said...

I came across this older post this morning and thank you for posting it here on this site also, Wade:

these days I look for voices for justice among Christian people which I take as part of their witness, so I appreciate the post very much, especially this week

Rex Ray said...


Great story of a great man. Reminds me of the Lord giving more years to the life of Hezekiah.

I have a cousin that wouldn’t have lived another month if he’d not had a lung transplant.

How would you feel if his statutes were torn down by ‘the crazy people’ today?

Anonymous said...

And yet the very same science that provided this man with more years of life is telling us now to wear masks, social distance, and avoid unnecessary large gatherings in order to save the lives of others.

Why won't we listen to science when it inconveniences us?

CM said...


I am very impressed with Holden's artistry and skill. He is for bronze what Ansel Adams is to photography or Thomas Hill is to natural landscape painting. I am sure others have made the comparisons.

CM said...

As an aside, Thomas Hill was a painter in the "Hudson River School" thread of artists.

From the link above: "In general, Hudson River School artists believed that nature in the form of the American landscape was a reflection of God, though they varied in the depth of their religious conviction."

Holden no doubt feels the same way about his sculptures.

Rex Ray said...


Wonder what Holden would think about New York City. That’s were Black Lives Matter are having a revolution against police with such signs that say: Wonder what police taste like, and a topless woman shaking her fist in their face.

Police budget has been cut; many are retiring, crime has increased tremendously. Those arrested are back on the street shortly.

To prevent the virus from increasing, beaches are closed, but the mayor has given protest marches his blessings.

CM said...

Rex Ray,

Once again you miss key points in your narrative. For starters, do you even know the size of the NYC budget or the size of the police budget? Probably not.

The size of the NYC Budget for FY2021 is $88 Billion USD. This is more than 10 times higher than the ENTIRE state budget for Oklahoma. What is NOT being reported in your news sources is that the city is forecasting a $9 Billion loss in revenue for FY2021.

Of that $1 Billion so-called "cut", $400 million was accounting sleight of hand. The NYC School Police were part of the NYPD. Instead the entire department gets shifted over to NYC Department of Education (thereby increasing its budget by $400 million). The current size of the NYPD budget is around $6 Billion USD (not including pensions) which is 75% of the entire state budget of OK. So even if $600 million was cut, that is only a 10% reduction. ANY government agency can easily find 10% in savings due to inefficiencies, waste, etc. But you will never hear that on your Fox News and other so-called "conservative" media.

It is funny to see these so-called fiscal "conservatives" whine like liberal snowflakes when their programs have a "cut". Your hypocrisy is noted.

Rex Ray said...


Thanks for stating your slant on Fox News. That explains why your views go along with Fake News. A ladder you’d have us climb is missing too many steps or rungs at the bottom.

Rex Ray said...

This story happened 70 years ago.

We were 18, when my twin brother, Hez, said, “Let’s go visit Rex’s girl.” (Betty) Another senior boy and our 15-year-old cousin, Frank, took our Dad’s Model A. It was a mile to Betty’s house and her father, Ted, was a farmer. It was 8 o’clock at night, but since they didn’t have electricity, they’d gone to bed. We parked the car a hundred yards from the house.

Hez said, “Let’s wake them up!” Rain had left the dirt road with a lot of dried clods. The four of us got four clods each. We threw the first clods as high as we could, then threw lower so 16 clods hit the roof about the same time. (Betty said later, they thought the chimney had broken off and was sliding down the roof.)

We ran off laughing. After a while, Hez said, “Let’s do it again.” We repeated the process, but didn’t know Ted was in the yard behind a tree with a shotgun. I was still throwing when the others started running. Ted’s shotgun sounded like a cannon.

Ted said later that he was aiming at one (me) a few feet away, but when he saw three, he was so angry he wanted to shoot three instead of one. (That probably saved my life.)

No training is needed when a gun goes off; you hit the ground then run like crazy. I went to the car and waited for the others, but a flashlight blinded me. I thought I was dead.

“Is that you Rex?”
In a voice about to cry, “Yes Sir.”

“You boy’s shouldn’t do things that make others do what they shouldn’t do!” He was worried he’d hurt someone. I drove, honking the horn, but they hid thinking Ted was driving. I got home, and later the others came.

Hez was the only one hit. Mother got the bird shot from one leg with tweezers. Daddy was the only one mother was angry with. “See, you’ve filled our boy’s heads with your tales of tricks! You’re going to get them killed!”

I figured if anyone should get hurt, Hez was the one.

Christiane said...


loved the story! I can see it all happening, the way you write it. As before, I can see that the guardian angels assigned to your family have earned their wings and haloes many times over. :)

Hello CM,
I wouldn't call people 'hypocrites' because they get their information from different places than you get your information. In our country right now, the 'division' began when people with agendas set up their own media sources. And when those sources grew together with those 'agendas', of course certain 'slants' appeared. My own favorite media source is CNN, which is what I would turn to for 'news', but I am the first to admit how much I am drawn to MSNBC which has my heroine Rachel Maddow on weeknights. I do watch some of FOX news also, but not its 'pundits', no. So, I do know the different 'slants' that news and media sources provide for their viewers and readers. People can watch what they want in this country. There are choices. And because someone has chosen a particular 'slant' does not mean they are hypocrites, no. It just means they 'see things differently'.

But in the end, good people want what is best for our country. We just don't 'agree' politically much anymore outside our own 'bubbles',
but it is a healthy thing to get outside of one's bubble and to try to understand the ways in which others see things differently and to try to figure out 'why' their viewpoints are meaningful to them. You can't do that while calling people 'hypocrites', no. Try a better way than that to communicate with folks and it helps to remember that our American people are infinitely more important to one another than any differences that 'separate' them, yes. Please think about it, at least.

Garen Martens said...

My favorite living artist! We own four maquettes of Harold's work and I love looking at the detail of each of them. He is truly gifted!

CM said...


Did you ever both to look at the actual NYC budget that was adopted? Download the PDF and look at the budgetary line items? Tell met Rex, is the official Budget as adopted "Fake News"?

Here are some of the details on this so-called "cut" which apparently is the same type of "cut" that all the liberals and democrats complain about when their programs are budgeted:

1. The NYC Public Schools police will be transferred to the NY Department of Education. If one knows accounting, this is an accounting gimmick to make it look like a cut. All those school police will still be paid and have their jobs.

2. Approximately $350 million will be saved by cutting NYPD Overtime (they already spend $700 million a year in overtime).

3. Around 1,200 police officers will not be replaced as they leave due to attrition. This will still leaves NYPD with a force level it was just 3-4 ago.

If I had my way the size and scope of ALL government spending would be reduced by 75% or so. Give me Calvin Coolidge any day. Rex, I guess you were never a fiscal conservative at all.

When someone complains about so-called cut which is not really a cut with same wailing as liberal who complains the same type of cut which is not really cut AND at the same has likely berated liberals for it AND at the same time claims to be for smaller government as a so-called "conservative", then YES they are a hypocrite (look up the definition).

CM said...

Let me put this into hard dollars and cents:

Right now NYC is expected a shortfall in revenue of $9 Billion USD for FY2021. This shortfall alone is larger than the entire state budget for Oklahoma. NYC passed a budget of $88 Billion dollars, of which approximately $6 Billion was NYPD (not including several Billion more for pensions, etc).

Around $400 billion of the $6 Billion was transferred from one department (NYPD) to another (Department of Education). Those NYC school cops are still there, the only difference will be the org chart and on the backend accounting.

$350 million dollars will be cut from overtime expenses (of the current $700 million budgeted). Anyone who owns a business that reducing overtime is way to keep people employed but reduce your payroll expenses. The cops are still there.

Approximately 1200 NYPD officers (of a force size of 36,000) a 3.3% reduction in headcount will not replaced as they leave the force through attrition. If anyone owned a business the headcout of NYPD, they could easily find 3.3% dead weight employees.

But why is it so-called "conservatives" go stupid and act like liberals when it comes their sacred cow government agencies?

Muff Potter said...

I love the Vision Seeker statue at Enid High School.
I don't think there's another Nation on Earth that celebrates its Native Peoples the way we (Americans) do.