Intro to Orren Mixer Exhibit
Family members would say that Orren Mixer was "born under a wandering star." Born in 1920 in Oklahoma City, he lived there with his sister and parents. At the ripe old age of nine, he began to travel around the state, and everywhere he went, Orren Mixer was around the two things he loved from birth--horses and cattle.
Mixer dreamed of becoming an animal artist, but after the death of his mother, he "reckoned what art school would cost and never could see any way to get the tuition paid."
After finishing high school, Mixer took a job lettering decorative signs for displays in shop windows. "Then one of my teachers got in touch with me. She had sent some of my drawings to the Art Institute in Kansas City, and they decided to give me a scholarship."
After leaving the Art Institute, Mixer worked in graphic arts in New York City and Oklahoma City.
In 1941, he married his high school sweetheart, Evelyn Leonard, and they made their way to California along Route 66. That same year, Mixer saw his first magazine cover published. The April issue of Hoofs and Horns featured Mixer's painting On Guard.
At the end of 1942, Mixer joined the U.S. Navy and was transferred to Chicago, Illinois. One evening he and Evelyn took two oil paintings and one watercolor to the local Abercrombie and Fitch to see if they would sell.
"I guess Chicago liked my style," said Mixer, "because we sold two of the paintings before we left the store...that's when I decided I might make it as an artist."
Mixer's celebrity as a Western artist started during the 1950s. Livestock, particularly horses, became his specialty, and his work graced the covers of The Quarter Horse Journal, Western Horseman, Cattleman and Oklahoma Today. Mixer painted many champions in the show ring and on the track through the years, including three horses belonging to President and Mrs. Reagan.
In 1968, the American Quarter Horse Association public information committee commissioned a portrait of an "ideal" American Quarter Horse. In his career, Mixer depicted the ideal American Quarter Horse, Pinto, Paint, Palomino, Appaloosa, Buckskin and Pony of the Americas.
A friend to horse and horseman, Orren Mixer just wanted to take pictures, and maybe get around to painting a few of them. He once said he didn't want people to mourn him after he was gone. "If you come to my funeral, you smile, because I've enjoyed my life."
Renowned equine artist Orren Marion Mixer, Jr. died on April 29, 2008, at 87 years old.