The People’s Choice Award for Arts Council OKC’s FRESH PAINT: OKC NYE mural competition and the Oklahoma City Thunder grand prize goes to Verdean Thompson Johnson. Thompson and the four competing muralists displayed their 8”x8” murals outside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on December 31st, 2020 and, later that evening, premiered on Arts Council OKC’s virtual new year’s eve event Opening Night. Voting for People’s Choice concluded at midnight on January 4th, 2021 with an overwhelming voting response from the community. 


Thompson, Douglass Highschool graduate, titles his mural Castles in the Sky which shows a figure reaching out towards a grandiose fortress hovering above a city skyline. “Because it is possible, that dream you have, that idea, it may be a castle, floating in the sky, but it IS possible. You can reach it,” says Thompson, “…I wish for young black men to look at me the same way I looked at them… ‘I can do it, because he did it’.” 


Final thoughts from Thompson when delivered the exciting news: “My goal is to become the hero I never met, to become the hero I needed when I was lost in this world, lost in my head. Thank you Oklahoma, thank you home. I love you all, Enjoy.” 


FRESH PAINT, presented by the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a collaborative project to promote aspiring young BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) artists. Learn about all five artists by visiting. and