Artist Jay Philip O'Meilia, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on July 17, 1927, achieved recognition in Oklahoma and elsewhere as a sports painter in the 1950s. A graduate of Tulsa Central High School, he served in the U.S. Navy as an artist during World War II and in Korea. After the war he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts (1946-47), at the Art Students League in New York (1945-46, 1947-49), and at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts (1946-47). He became noted for action paintings depicting tennis, polo, football, baseball, and golf, and he has also painted landscapes and portraits. He taught oil portraiture and watercolor at the Philbrook Art Center (now the Philbrook Museum of Art) in Tulsa.
O'Meilia's work has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the National Academy of Design and Grand Central Galleries in New York, and in Oklahoma at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. While his work has focused on painting, figurative sculpture assumed some importance. Among his works on view in Oklahoma are The Protector, at the Tulsa Police Academy, Oklahoma Indian Ballerina, at Williams Center Green in Tulsa, and Vietnam Veteran (with Bill Sowell), at the Veterans' Memorial on Lincoln Boulevard south of the Capital Building in Oklahoma City.
Through 1999 O'Meilia's work had captured first prizes in twenty-six competitions around the nation, including shows at the Philbrook and the Oklahoma Art Center (later the Oklahoma City Museum of Art). Named a member of the American Watercolor Society in 1965, he is also represented in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. At the end of the twentieth century Jay O'Meilia continued to reside and work in Tulsa.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Jay O'Meilia," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "Jay O'Meilia," Oklahoma 4 (Fall/Winter 1999-2000). David Wilson, "Dancing With Life and Art," Oklahoma Magazine, 7 November 1982.
© Oklahoma Historical Society