Philip Jay O’Meilia was born in 1927 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Between military stints during WWII and Korea (serving as a Navy artist), he attended the Art Students League in New York (1945-46, 1947-49) and the Chicago Academy of Fine Art (1946-47). He also attended the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Mass., George Washington University in Washington, DC, and the University of Tulsa. At the Art Students League, O’Meilia studied under Frank J. Reilly and Robert Brackman, and also was a student of Henry Hensche.
O’Meilia’s work has been displayed in galleries and museums across America, including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Academy of Design in New York, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. His sculptures, paintings, serigraphs, and prints are in the permanent collections of more than 500 private and corporate organizations worldwide.
In 1965, he won first place in a national competition sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch for his painting Night Baseball, which began his rise to prominence as one of the country’s finest sports artists. A fitness enthusiast from a young age, O’Meilia is highly regarded for his artistic depiction of professional and collegiate football (particularly the University of Oklahoma), professional tennis, golf, and other sports.
In 1970, he created his first sculpture, On Deck, which began yet another phase of O’Meilia’s career. After starting small, he graduated to greater-than-life-size monuments, beginning with his first commissioned piece, Roughnecks (1979), which stands in Tulsa’s Mid-Continent Building. Oil Patch Warrior (1991), which resides in England’s Sherwood Forest, was O’Meilia’s first international monument.
O’Meilia won 26 regional and national awards for both oil and watercolor. He was a lifetime member of the American Watercolor Society, and a member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society. He was also a colleague of the National Sculpture Society in New York.
In 1999, O’Meilia was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.