What's the deal with public art???
Why Public Art?
Public art is exactly what it’s name says: art in a public space. And it can be created in many shapes, forms, sizes, and lengths of time (temporary or permanent). Public art is an especially important form of artistic expression because, as it takes place in public spaces, it is free and accessible to the public. And in addition to making spaces more aesthetically exciting, public art can convey meaning in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it is sight-specific and offers interpretation on the history and culture of it’s location. It may also offer commentary on a social or environmental issue. For more information about the meaning and uses of public art, follow this link from Americans for the Arts (our national arts advocacy organization). Today, viewers often share their public art experiences as photos on social media.
Current Projects in Oklahoma
In the state of Oklahoma, we are lucky to have many historic, recently created, and current public art projects. Here are some exciting projects to plan to visit:
Historic: Some of our most well-known pieces of public art have been around for years. The “Galaxy” in Leadership Square, OKC has captivated viewers since 1984, and the “Artificial Cloud” in Tulsa has been a landmark since 1992. For more locations, these articles in 405 Magazine and This Land tell about many other pieces in Oklahoma. For eye-catching murals, check this Travelok page. Click on these links to find even more fantastic works in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa area. This documentary from Downtown OKC shows a variety of public art pieces in Oklahoma City.
Recent/Current: In the last several years, Oklahoma has had the privilege of hosting several temporary works of public art. Tulsa hosted an installation of “Stickwork” from world-renowned sculptor Patrick Dougherty. And Oklahoma City is currently hosting “Whiteout” by Erwin Redl in Campbell Art Park until March 31. Some recent installations include: Nurture (pictured above), Wilderness on Western (pictured above), Black Wall St. (pictured below) and art at the Gathering Place (video below).
Upcoming: Education is one good way to build support and recognition for public art projects, and the Ardmore Beautification Council recently held a presentation about public art. In Oklahoma City, the City Council just approved 4 new public art projects including one titled “Glacial Erratics” that will be created by the West River Trail. Additionally, Tulsa just won $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to create “The Greenwood Art Project,” a public art project to commemorate Black Wall Street which was the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Also, sign up for the Oklahoma Public Art Network’s newsletter to stay updated on projects in Oklahoma.
Nominate Oklahoma Art!
Our national advocacy partner Americans for the Arts has a group called the Public Art Network (PAN). Every year PAN does a “Year in Review” to give national recognition to public art projects. In the past, only 3 pieces from Oklahoma have won, and you can find them in the PAN Year in Review Database. The 2019 PAN Year in Review application is open now, and will close on February 27. Pieces of public art that were created in 2018 are eligible. Nominate a piece from OK! Follow the link below to find instructions for the application process:
Recent OKC Mural Photos from Andy Moore:
“Fortune Favors the Brave” by Julie Robertson; “Steven Adams” by Graham Hoete; “Life in the Light” by Denis Duong; “Greetings” by unknown artist; “The Nature of Things” by Kristopher Kanaly, Dustin Gilpin and Jerrod Smith; and “Oklahoma Aiukli” by Erin Cooper, Amanda Bradway and Lauren Miller. Check this blog post for more great mural photos in OKC.