Dr. Bob Palmer Painting Local History 

If you’ve seen any historical murals painted on Edmond buildings, then you are probably looking at the art of Dr. Bob Palmer. Palmer started teaching mural painting classes at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1995. He has painted scenes in towns all over Oklahoma. His style is recognizable because his murals nearly always feature old-fashioned scenes. 

“I’m hired to convey a message to the public,” Palmer said, “and often it’s a story about the history of the area. Murals do a good job of providing an instant story. You don’t have to read a history book; you just drive by and understand the character and patriotism of the community.” 

In Edmond, his murals are on the exterior walls of W&W Tire and InterBank downtown, and many are located inside of Edmond public schools, churches, the Edmond History Museum, Othello’s Italian Restaurant and Uptown Grocery. 

Schoolhouse Mural 

In February, Palmer was invited to touch up Edmond’s oldest mural, “Edmond Station’s Land Run Settlers” on the building next to the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse on 2nd Street. The paint was peeling after a roof leak. The mural, which Palmer originally painted in 2002, is a collage of images taken from 1890s photographs of Edmond. 

Palmer’s team, mostly former students, helped during the two-day restoration by re-outlining the images for clearer definition and adding brighter colors. Palmer also gave the mural something he felt was missing from his original work: the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse itself. 

“I usually finalize the murals with the background and finishing details. My students call that Palmerizing,” Palmer said with a laugh. “For this one, I filled in the empty spaces with sky and trees. Afterward, I learned that early Edmond didn’t have trees, so my artistic interpretation was not perfect.” 

While the team painted, they were surprised by the community’s engagement. “People kept dropping by or honking from the street,” Palmer said. “That’s one thing I like about murals–they become bigger than just the client and the artist. They become claimed by the whole community.” 

Mural Legacy 

At age 73, Palmer is reflective that some of his murals will outlive him. “At least I hope so. Each mural is my baby, but I understand that they get painted over for various reasons.” 

Looking back at his 40-year career, Palmer is grateful to have enriched communities through his art, even if it is temporary. “God gave me this talent, and I have to keep giving it back,” Palmer said. “I’m proud to say that many of Edmond’s new murals were done by my former students, and I recently painted a cafeteria mural with my 8th-grade grandson at Western Oaks Middle School. So, I guess you could say I have passed on the torch.” 

To learn more, email palmerstudiosinc@gmail.com or read Dr. Palmer’s biography, Painting Oklahoma & Beyond.

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