HAROLD T. HOLDEN, or "H" as he is called by many, was born in Enid, Oklahoma. Although "H" was the first professional fine artist in the family, he comes from a family of creative and talented inventors and engineers. In 1915, his great- grandfather George Failing invented the machine that creates the bottle cap that is still used on beverages today. His grandfather, oil pioneer George E. Failing, invented the first portable drilling rig, as well as numerous drilling bits, still used in the industry. "H" credits his love of horses to his father who was an avid horseman.
After graduating from Enid High School, "H" attended Oklahoma State University and graduated from the Texas Academy of Art in Houston. He then began his art career in the commercial art field, working in Wichita, Kansas and in Houston, Texas, where he eventually took the position of art director at Horseman Magazine. While working during the day for other folks, "H" began his fine art career at night, painting and sculpting his first love, the West.
After a tour of duty with the Navy in Vietnam, "H" ventured out on his own in 1973, to try and make it as a professional fine artist. Commissions from the National Cattlemen’s Association from 1982-1986 helped and collectors began taking notice of his work.
"H" was a member of the Texas Cowboy Artists Association (TCA) and the National Western Artists Association and received numerous gold medals in both organizations for his paintings and sculptures. He is known for his attention to detail, and particularly his sculptures of horses. Believing that an artist should know his subject matter, "H" spends much of his leisure time team roping and staying close to the cowboy way of life.
In 1987 “H” was chosen to sculpt a series of commemorative bronzes to depict the 165 year history of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma and Kansas. That same year he completed his first of many monuments, “Boomer” for the City of Enid, Oklahoma. Since that date H has completed or is working on 19 additional monuments for placement in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.
His work has been reproduced on the August 1981 and April 1987 covers of Western Horseman Magazine, and in it's February 1996 Gallery. Cowboy magazine featured H’s work on their Summer 1996 and Winter 2006 covers. His work is in the book “The Texas Cowboy”, published by TCU Press as well as in the book “Contemporary Western Artists”. H’s images have been featured on the Vernon Company Calendars since 1995. Various articles have appeared about his work in Art of the West, Southwest Art and Persimmon Hill magazines.
"H's" work is included in the museum collections of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma State Capitol, the Ranching Heritage Museum in Lubbock, Texas, the Whitney Gallery at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming, the Elizabeth Dunnegan Gallery of Fine Art in Bolivar, Missouri, the Museum of the Cherokee Strip in Enid, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.
"H" received the lifetime achievement award from the Oklahoma Sculpture Society and also was inducted into the Mountain Oyster Club as a lifetime member in 2000.
In 2001 H received the Oklahoma Governor's Art Award from Governor Frank Keating.
In 2005 he was honored with the Oklahoma State University's Distinguished Alumni recognition.
H's largest painting to date is a 5 foot by 8 foot oil painting of western Oklahoma which hangs in the Oklahoma State Capitol.
"H" was the featured artist at the Cattlemen's Western Art Show and sale at San Luis Obispo in April 2001 and also one of 2 sculptors featured at the Gilcrease Rendezvous in Tulsa in April 2001. He received Best of Show and the Director's Trophy at the Working Ranch Cowboy's Association Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo, Texas in 2002 and was one of the returning artists at the Gilcrease Rendezvous Anniversary Show in 2004. In 2004 he was elected into Professional Membership in the National Sculpture Society. In 2007, H was the juror and featured artist at the Museum of Western Colorado Art Center in Grand Junction, Colorado.
On November 13, 2014 H was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.