Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Tony Westlund: Purposefully Imperfect

A gift for creative grit and artistic scavenging



 



The first time Tony Westlund was on television, he was painting a dung beetle. Really, it was a Volkswagen Beetle on the Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws.” The car belonged to AZN (pronounced Asian), one of the show’s stars, who dubbed it the Dung Beetle. Westlund said that his career began to take a broader path with that on-air moment of creativity.
 

Westlund was born in Watonga, but most of his schooling was in Washington (the state), and that turned out to be critical to his success as an artist. Before the progressive state would nurture his creative side, though, he learned to love art with his paternal grandmother.

“We were in Washington because my father was a blacksmith and a farrier,” Westlund says. “We followed the economy, and he was able to do better in Washington. After school and during the summer, I’d sit at the dining room table with my grandmother, and she’d bring out oils and watercolors and just let me practice. She was the first person who saw my early talent.”

Where Westlund said he got really fortunate was middle school. Like many boys, he was fascinated with extreme imagery – fire, skulls, violence – and his teachers didn’t “freak out.” They encouraged his skills.

“I’m pretty sure most teachers these days would be calling in the school counselors,” Westlund smiles.

High school was more of the same, featuring supportive teachers and a freedom to choose electives that came from the non-college track. He also discovered his second love, in the form of analog photography. The school had a full darkroom, and (wait for it) a very encouraging teacher.

The trend of external support has been present in Westlund’s life as long as he can remember. When he talks about settling into Oklahoma City after a stint in Austin, he says, “I was not finding any struggle as an artist; I was following the yeses.”

The version of the story is his own, so it’s clear he believes it, but his definition of struggle is likely different than many people’s. For most of his early career, he was taking odd jobs, freelance work and working as a “tire slinger” at Hibdon’s while he tried to earn enough to function as a professional artist. That the son of a blacksmith who was a Marine vet would not see that narrative as suffering is not surprising, and it’s in fact quite refreshing; part of being a successful artist is treating art as a job, and Westlund has learned that through many different relationships.

 


 


Central to his acquired business acumen is his relationship with his wife Claire and her family. Her father is a successful homebuilder and paint company owner, and Claire owns Revel Eight Salon in Midtown, as well as two other salons in the urban core. Westlund’s handiwork is all over her concepts, as well as in places such as The Womb and Cultivar, and it’s this ability to transpose a creative aesthetic to business applications that is his greatest asset.

That is partly related to his development as an artist, that blending of the organic with the industrial/mechanical. His sculptures are all a mixed-media blend of metal and wood, of machined parts and treated or untreated wood, of intentionally crafted pieces and found objects.

“My dad’s blacksmith shop equipment was all well-worn,” Westlund says, “and we lived in this beautiful farmhouse; it was lived in. I love the lived-in aesthetic.”

In fact, one of his specialties, which was a draw for the “Street Outlaws” crew, is his ability to take something new and make it look well worn. He uses it in the house accents he creates, including for his father-in-law’s homebuilding business, and even on new cars. He’s currently developing a line of faux aged wood furniture for Urban Farmhouse Designs.

That a man who considers himself a “scavenger” of society’s detritus now makes money off making new look old is certainly counterintuitive, and perhaps fully ironic. After reading The Scavenger’s Manifesto by Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawson, his own philosophy of creativity came into sharper focus.

“There are animals that function as scavengers in nature, and they clean up the things no one wants; they make the world look better. They – rats, vultures, the scavenger animals – don’t look pleasant to us, but they are important. I like to think that I can see the hope in a broken chair. That I can take it and clean it up, fix it, make it beautiful.”

Tony and Claire had their first child, Wilder Cade, in 2017. He’s seven months old as of this writing, and Westlund said he expects his son to find his own muse. “I’m sure he’ll find a creative path; it’s in his blood. Creativity, ingenuity, inventiveness, business sense … both sides of his family have those things.”

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Madison Cunningham’s Come-Up

The young singer prepares to open an OKC show for The Punch Brothers

Touring Fort Smith

From the historic courtroom of Judge Isaac Parker to the new Park at West End, Elaine Warner finds plenty of highlights in Arkansas’ second-largest city.

The Palazzolo Palazzo

Designer Lindsay Palazzolo combines neutral shades, multiple textures and a sense of airiness throughout the entirety of her remodeled Nichols Hills palace.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2018

No Events
No Events
No Events
No Events

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags