Local Artist Makes Big Splash at Kentucky Derby

Wednesday, May 18th 2011, 6:29 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahomans may have seen their share of big expensive hats during the royal wedding television coverage, but one local woman said the wedding has nothing on the Kentucky Derby.

Marita Walizer is a local artist that attended this year's Derby.

"It's like the royal wedding on steroids almost," Walizer said.  "I'm not saying anything to downplay what went on over in London, but the Derby is just one big fashion extravaganza."

She attended the Derby to do interviews, and to autograph her artwork.  Her artwork though, was on bottles of Mint Julep.

Walizer entered a contest last summer to find the new label for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.  Her winning piece featured her friends and family who posed in her backyard.  She didn't get to see the actual bottle until the Derby.

"It was almost like, you could hardly believe it was actually happening," Walizer said.   "It was amazing to actually see the bottle for the first time."

Walizer's artwork featured her father, who died a day after last year's Derby, and her mother, who passed away just five months later.  She was in the process of painting her uncle when she saw a familiar face in her painting.

"All of a sudden there was my dad, and I go 'Oh my gosh, don't touch that,'" she said.  

"It just really made me appreciate the people in my family, and our great friends," Walizer said.  "As I worked on them one by one I was thinking about every one of them."

Walizer's already gearing up for the 2012 Julep contest, but her 2011 artwork is still making waves.

Partial proceeds from Walizer's prints and artwork go to support Apple Patch, a residential community in Kentucky for mentally and physically challenged adults, where her youngest sister is a resident.

Walizer's winning artwork and other originals can be seen at www.maritawalizer.com or www.derbyhatart.com.