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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Harold Holden and Keeper of the Plains, 1993
(2012.201.B0260B.0614, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Western artist Harold T. Holden was born in Enid, Oklahoma, on March 28, 1940. Holden's grandfather, oil pioneer George E. Failing, invented one of the first portable drilling rigs. After graduating from Enid High School, Holden attended both the University of Houston and Oklahoma State University for one year each before enrolling at the Texas Academy of Art in Houston. Upon graduation from art school Holden worked as a commercial artist for several years while pursuing a fine-art career in his spare time. In 1973, after serving an active duty tour with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, he concentrated full time on fine art. Holden has devoted himself exclusively to Western and cowboy subject matter, and his style is particularly noted for the accurate depiction of horse conformation. Although his early work concentrated on oil painting, by the 1990s he was focusing on sculpture.

Holden is a member of the Texas Cowboy Artists Association and the National Western Artists Association and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Sculpture Society. His bust of David Walters, governor of Oklahoma, and four paintings of notable Oklahomans reside in the Oklahoma Capitol. He has completed a number of monumental outdoor sculptures across the state of Oklahoma, including Headin' to Market, at the entrance to the historic Oklahoma City National Stockyards, Crossin' the Red and Vision Seeker, both in Altus, and Holding the Claim, in Enid. Additionally, his work resides in more than ten museums, including the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Woolaroc Museum in Bartlesville, the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid, the Ranching Heritage Museum in Lubbock, Texas, the Whitney Gallery at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming, the Elizabeth Dunnegan Gallery of Fine Art in Bolivar, Missouri, and hundreds of private collections across the United States. He received an Oklahoma Governor's Arts Award in 2001. At the end of the twentieth century Holden and his wife, Edna Mae, resided in Kremlin, Oklahoma. Harold Holden died on December 6, 2023.

Bobby D. Weaver

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"Harold Holden, Profile," Art of the West (May/June 1996).

Prix de West Invitational [Exhibition Catalogue, 2002], National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City.

Peggy Samuels and Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists (New York: Bonanza Books, 1985).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Bobby D. Weaver, “Holden, Harold Tweed,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=HO010.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated January 3, 2024

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