First Oklahoma Bank invites people of all ages to enjoy an art exhibit featuring artwork by Russian orphans that will be on display starting mid-April in the Burt B. Holmes Fine Art Gallery in the lobby of the bank’s Jenks headquarters, 100 S. Riverfront Drive.

People may visit the bank’s Jenks lobby anytime from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting April 15 and extending through the end of the month.

The upcoming art show is the next in a series that the bank periodically opens to the public. A private reception to showcase the artwork and honor Orphan’s Tree will be held April 21 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the bank.

Founded in 2008, Orphan’s Tree helps orphans become productive and successful citizens while giving them hope for their future. The group’s mission is to break the cycle for orphans through the agency’s programs that focus on teaching orphans how to develop healthy relationships and sustain themselves.

The free art exhibit will feature about 50 pieces created by Russian orphans, ranging from ages 12 to 30. Pieces will include a variety of styles, including portraits, landscapes, architecture, pop art, real-life scenarios, florals, wood carvings and more.

Most of the artwork is from the personal collection of Tom Bennett Jr., First Oklahoma Bank’s Chairman, and his wife Sue Bennett, Senior Vice President and director of Investor Relations. For 17 years, the couple has taken mission trips to Russia, where they work with older adult and teenaged orphans who have aged out of the orphanage system.

“I’ve wanted to share these paintings for a long time. The plight of orphans is only getting worse and worse worldwide due to wars and oppression,” said Sue Bennett. “We’re trying to draw attention to this unique population of people and how orphans survive in the world.”

Creating art helps many orphans express themselves and understand their lives. It helps them process pain and express what is going on inside of them, Sue Bennett said. Most of the orphans whose art will be featured are self-taught artists.

However, several pieces to be displayed are the creations of Vladimir Shamarin, an orphan who became a trained artist and attended the Ilya Repin St. Petersburg State Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

For an orphan to even be accepted into the academy is an amazing feat. His artwork was so good that many of his teachers thought he was cheating and forced him to paint in front of them, Sue said.

For more information, contact Sue Bennett at 918-392-2525.


About First Oklahoma Bank

Started in 2009 with just six employees, First Oklahoma Bank has grown to more than 100 employees and more than $440 million in total assets. In addition to its Jenks headquarters at 100 S. Riverfront Drive, the bank also has branches in midtown Tulsa at 4110 S. Rockford Ave. and in Glencoe