Purcell’s pop artist

James Kyzer, left, has been pairing pop bottle memorabilia and art in his own unique style for about 11 years. A former longtime art teacher for Purcell Public Schools, Kyzer is shown here winning best-in-show at an Alva art festival in 2019.

One online definition of pop art is “a style of art based on simple, bold images of everyday items, such as soup cans, painted in bright colors”

Purcell’s pop artist is too much the purist for that.

James Kyzer puts the pop in his pop art. Literally.

James came to Purcell more than four decades ago and has lived here ever since.

Memorial Day 1977 he interviewed for an art teaching position at Purcell Middle School.

He got the job and eventually ended up teaching art in the high school.

After 35 years in the classroom, James retired in 2012 and turned his pop art dabbling into a full blown passion.

Each composition features a pop bottle, can, logo or bottle cap.

Whimsical? Perhaps. But his pop art is also a record of Americana you will find no where else.

James is always on the hunt for old pop bottles and posters. With his wife, Pamela, he frequents antique stores, flea markets and garage sales.

Occasionally, he buys off of Ebay, though he knows postage and shipping charges can sometimes run the price up quite a bit.

The most he’s ever paid for a pop bottle is $125.

“It has to be something I really want” to spend that much, he added.

He hasn’t a clue how many pop bottles he owns. Other than a lot.

“I’ve got them listed and the year they were made, but I’ve never sat down and counted how many I have,” he said.

His is a familiar face on the circuit of one-day art and craft festivals across Oklahoma.

Last year, he won best-in-show at Alva and he’s won “a couple” of awards at Winfield, Kans., as well as best-of -category at the Prague Kolache Festival.

Although he sells his pop art, James isn’t in it for the money.

“Little Pops” measuring 4-by-4 inches go for $3, while an 8-by-10 inch piece will sell for $20 and an 8-by-14 for $25.

He does a few works that are poster-size.

“The most I’ve ever charged was $50,” he said.

His most recent work centers on a circa 1974 Washington pop bottle from Washington, Mo. He paired that with a 1935 Washington silver certificate and a handful of George Washington postage stamps issued in 1932 on the bicentennial of the first president’s birthday.

Last week, James was interviewed by Channel 4’s Galen Culver. The station aird the interview Monday as an “Is This a Great State or What?” feature.

In case you missed it, the interview can be viewed online at  https://kfor.com/news/great-state/putting-the-pop-into-pop-art-oklahoma-artist-uses-bottles-caps-in-every-piece/.

Pamela is also a teacher in Purcell schools. The couple met at school and have been married 31 years.

She teaches seventh grade grammar and will retire this year.

Daughter Katie lives in Emporia, Kans., with her husband, Michael, and daughter, Audrey, who will be 2 in May. Katie is a music therapist and is currently out of work due to COVID-19 restrictions in Kansas.

Those restrictions may keepJames and Pamela from being there for Audrey’s birthday.

“Now if we go up there, they have to be in quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

Same quarantine applies if they come to Oklahoma.

James is an active member of Sunray Baptist Church, where he is also the song leader.

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