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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.”

 

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Calendar

October 2019

The Musical Swings is an interactive public art installation featuring 10 swings that each activate a different note, allowing participants to make music, connect to one another and have a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bicentennial Park
201 North Walker Ave.
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Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community Foundation
Telephone: 405-606-2922
Contact Name: Kasey Gardner
Website »

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Cost: Free!

Where:
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555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

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Cost: Free

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1 NE 3rd st
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Cost: Unlimited Fun Park Pass for just $19.99

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Cost: $5, children 12 & under are free

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OKC Farmers Market Venue
311 S Klein Ave
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Telephone: 405.810.6977
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McKnight Center Performance Hall
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Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Canterbury Voices
Telephone: 405-232-7464
Contact Name: Kelly Moore
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Cost: Varies

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Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
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Cost: $175 for the full term

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The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
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Cost: Free

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Cost: $4-$6

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1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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Cost: Free

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Artspace at Untitled
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Telephone: 405-815-9995
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Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
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Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

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The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
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Telephone: 580.252.6692
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Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Telephone: 405-815-9995
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More information

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Cost: Free!

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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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Cost: $175 for the full term

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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
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Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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More information

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The Paramount Room
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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
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Cost: Free!

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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More information

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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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Cost: $7 in advance, $10 at the gate and FREE for children 12 and under

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Join Planned Parenthood Great Plains and reproductive health trailblazers Laura Kaplan and Martha Scott, two members of Jane, an underground network in Chicago that provided counseling,...

Cost: $50+

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7000 NW Grand Blvd
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Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
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View map »

More information

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Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
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View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

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Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and...

Cost: $7 in advance, $10 at the gate and FREE for children 12 and under

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Linde
Website »

More information

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Cost: $8

Where:
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1 East Main St.
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View map »


Sponsor: Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
Telephone: 405-585-1321
Contact Name: Beau & Misty Dorrough
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

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Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
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View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

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Cost: $35

Where:
Exchange Ave. Landing
1503 Exchange Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Midtown
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Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Contact Name: Cleo Rajon

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and...

Cost: $7 in advance, $10 at the gate and FREE for children 12 and under

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Linde
Website »

More information

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Cost: $50

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: ARTSPACE at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Meredith Zerby
Website »

More information

We're poppin' champagne on the patio this Saturday and raffling off a bottle of Perrier-Jouet valued at $300! Come pre-party with us and DJ Catherine Ouellette from 6pm-10pm -...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1, N Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

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


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

This is one interactive haunted experience you WILL NOT want to miss! Will you be the one left behind or will your tactical skills get you to the other side?! Bring your friends and family to our...

Cost: $8

Where:
Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
1 East Main St.
Shawnee, OK  74801
View map »


Sponsor: Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
Telephone: 405-585-1321
Contact Name: Beau & Misty Dorrough
Website »

More information

Come pre-party with us on the patio this Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel. Enjoy our signature cocktail drinks and food bar menu. DJ Catherine Ouellette will be spinning your favorite tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, HELLO, DOLLY! is the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Tired of the same old Halloween parties? Join Oklahoma River Cruises and let’s Haunt the River.  Enjoy the decorated boat, haunted tunes, light snacks and cash bar on board....

Cost: $35

Where:
Exchange Ave. Landing
1503 Exchange Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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