Recent work of state's 'master' painter Lafon reveals age-worn subtlety 

D.J. Lafon's portraits of businessmen mingling with birds are an expression of his limitless talent, as well as the process of aging. 

Lafon was born in Utah and received two degrees from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, but after working in Oklahoma for more than 40 years, he has become one of this state's most recognized artists.

"I think everyone would agree that he's considered Oklahoma's master artist, and no other artist would be jealous of that," said Joy Reed Belt, owner and director of JRB Art at The Elms, which recently held a showing of his work.

INFLUENCE
Lafon first came to Oklahoma in 1964 to chair the art department at East Central University in Ada "? a position he held until retiring in 1984. He then moved to Norman, where he established a studio.

"There were a lot of students who went through there that he influenced," Belt said.

While teaching at ECU, he always emphasized the importance of being professional in art.

"He believes your success as an artist depends on how well you discipline yourself," Belt said. "Lafon said you work at it. It's a job. You give it all you have and it will reward you."

Recent health issues have limited Lafon's ability to work as he once did. His recent creations feature more subdued colors and shapes, and are on a smaller scale, which Belt describes as showing the "ages of man."

"This is a much gentler palette than he usually works in," Belt said. "These are gentle paintings."

"?Allison Meier

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