Working artists run into many obstacles today, but some become successful by their own definitions because of those blocks. The artists who made our The Best of the Best list for 2011 represent a spectrum of excellence. Rosalind Cook’s bronze sculptures reveal her spirit. Otto Duecker’s realistic paintings of photos taped against backgrounds charm the eye, while Leonard Wren’s impressionistic landscapes take viewers beyond Tulsa city limits.

With paint tubes in hand, former NBA player Desmond Mason has been named one of OKC’s favorite artists, along with Greg Burns – ink and watercolor – and Robert “Skip” Hill, whose mixed media works reflect African-American heritage.

Charity Event

Oklahomans are a generous people, and there’s nothing like a big event to say thanks for the help. Tulsans named several fundraisers as favorite charity event. Painted Pony Ball for The Children’s Hospital Foundation at Saint Francis made the top of the list with Tulsa Project Woman’s Pink Ribbon Event and Tulsa CARES’ Red Ribbon Gala tying for second. The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women and Oklahoma Magazine’s Single in the City also made the top three.

Red Tie Night for Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund tied with Cleats & Cocktails for the Wes Welker Foundation for top honors in Oklahoma City with two arts events – Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s 12×12 Art Show & Sale and Chocolate Festival at Norman’s Firehouse Arts Center – finishing out the category.


Tulsans looked at big causes when voting for The Best of the Best. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Oklahoma and Arkansas Chapter was voted the favorite. The efforts of local offices for both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, however, didn’t go unnoticed.

In Oklahoma City, readers gave the honor to Infant Crisis Services for its work to keep babies healthy and happy. Readers also like the work of Habitat for Humanity and the United Way of Central Oklahoma.


George Kaiser goes by many titles – CEO of GBK Corp. (parent of Kaiser Francis Oil Company), chairman of BOK Financial Corp. (a bank holding company for Bank of Oklahoma) – and readers have given him another. This year’s The Best of the Best CEO of Tulsa is followed by Jake Henry Jr., president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System. In third, David Stewart, president and CEO of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, ties with Paula Marshall, CEO of The Bama Companies, for third.

Aubrey McClendon, CEO, chairman and co-founder of Chesapeake Energy, once again takes top honors in Oklahoma City. J. Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy, comes in second, while Bill Cameron, First Fidelity Bank CEO and chairman and CEO and president of American Fidelity Assurance Co., finishes the top three for the city.


Chefs make every dish they serve something special, which makes this group stand out to readers. In Tulsa, Justin Thompson was toasted for his past work at The Brasserie Restaurant & Bar, along with Geoffrey van Glabbeek at The Restaurant at Gilcrease and Tuck Curren doing double duty at both Biga and Local Table.

Christine Dowd of Trattoria Il Centro is the big winner in Oklahoma City as well as Ryan Parrott at Iguana Mexican Grill and Kurt Fleischfresser at The Coach House.

Company to Work For

When Oklahoma goes to work, it pays to be a good employer. Employees have placed Saint Francis Health System and Williams Companies in the top rankings in Tulsa with natural gas energy giant ONEOK and Cherokee Nation Enterprises following in second. New Dominion and Manhattan Construction round out the top in Tulsa.

Chesapeake Energy is Oklahoma City’s top choice followed by Devon Energy in second and Cox Communications and Chickasaw Nation tied for third.

Local Icon/Landmark

When it comes to memorable people or landmarks, Oklahoma has both in abundance. The BOK Center edged out all others in Tulsa with its status as a hot entertainment destination. The Tulsa Golden Driller hasn’t lost any of its respect, however, at second place. Oral Roberts University and its golden spires hold steady at third.

Oklahoma City Arena has the attention of OKC readers, but not far behind are Kevin Durant, OKC Thunder forward and two-time All-NBA First Team member, and Flaming Lips’ front man Wayne Coyne.

Local Radio Personality

Once again, News Talk 740 KRMG’s Joe Kelley, is Tulsa’s favorite radio personality for delivering topical insight and the news on the morning haul. Lynn Hernandez at 97.5 KMOD FM takes second at the long-standing rock station, while fans fondly remember the days of KBEZ and the morning show with Steve Smith, both of which were dropped after the station became 92.9 BOB FM.

Oklahoma City’s Jack & Ron have their own website, so it’s no surprise that 98.9 KYIS FM’s chatty duo are the city’s top jocks. Joey & Heather at 104.9 KKWD can thank their following for a cool second, and Ferris O’Brien of streaming format college-radio took third.

Local TV Personality

It may be a popularity contest, but KOKI Channel 23 anchor Chera Kimiko is Tulsa’s top pick for the right reasons, including her work for the community and nonprofits. Readers felt the same way for Karen Larsen, KJRH Channel 2, and for LeAnne Taylor, KOTV Channel 6.

Back west, Oklahoma City has named KFOR Channel 4 anchor Kevin Ogle as its favorite face of local television with Jessica Schambach, KOCO Channel 5, and Jaime Cerreta, KOKH Fox 25, close behind.


It looks as if Travis Meyer, KOTV Channel 6 chief meteorologist, will keep his place as the man in charge when blizzards, heat waves and tornadoes happen. Who else does Tulsa like? That would be KJRH Channel 2’s Julie Chin in second followed by Dan Threlkeld.

Gary England, KWTV Channel 9, hangs on to his title as Oklahoma City’s weather icon for his dependability and cool head. Followed by Mike Morgan, KFOR Channel 4, and Rick Mitchell, KOCO Channel 5, the city is covered.

Small Town

Will Rogers loved Claremore. The feeling was mutual, and the small town has a museum in his honor along with Rogers State University and a celebrated downtown area. Not to be outdone, Shawnee has two universities and great potential. Pawhuska, county seat of Osage County and capital to the Osage Nation, is third.

Closer to Oklahoma City, Guthrie wins for many reasons, but that Victorian-style architecture and historic charm have attracted more than a few filmmakers. Edmond and its thriving shopping and dining appeal was voted second, followed by Okarche, home to the oldest bar in the state, Eischen’s Bar, where, consequently, you’ll also find some of the best fried chicken anywhere.

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