New public art projects commissioned

Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019
by Cathy O'Connor

If you only think of monuments when you hear the term “public art,” you need to schedule a public art tour of Oklahoma City. Since adoption in 2009 of an initiative that requires 1 percent of the construction budget for public projects to be spent on public art, Oklahoma City’s public art scene has significantly changed. There are now dozens of murals, sculptures and art installations across the city.

Public art adds meaning to our public spaces, reflects the culture of Oklahoma City and reveals our unique character. Investment in public art reflects our community’s cultural, social, and economic values. It makes a statement, causes you to pause and think and shows you a different perspective about the place and time where you stand.

Investing in art is investing in ourselves and it gives dividends from an economic development perspective. Studies show that people travel to and spend more time in cities with interesting and unique artists, museums and galleries.

The Oklahoma City Council recently approved four new art commissions: Glacial Erratics, a sculpture on the West River Trail by local artist Klint Schor; Indian Blanket Flower Bench, an Oklahoma prairie inspired bench at the South Lakes Park by Jim Gallucci; an untitled destination sculpture in Red Andrews Park by local artists Rick and Tracey Bewley; and Windswept Wall by local artist Brett McDanel at Fire Station No. 29 in southeast Oklahoma City.

The Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs is currently planning art for Scissortail Park, the new convention center, fairgrounds and the terminal expansion at Will Rogers World Airport, among other projects. All of this work is part of the city’s master plan for public art, which was completed in 2015. The plan provides procedural guidance and policy recommendations for reviewing and commissioning public art. It outlines 13 objectives focused on the creation, presentation and promotion of art with the goal of inspiring and communicating the city’s commitment to the social, economic and cultural well-being of residents.

Intentional investment in art is part of a plan to enhance the livability and charisma of Oklahoma City. I look forward to seeing the new installments of public art and how these artistic statements will add value, beauty and meaning to our built environment.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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