Zonly by Design

 

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the September 2019 Issue

Zonly By Design

The “Bicycle Buffalo” is coming to town! It’s Edmond’s newest art sculpture, slated for installation at the bicycle trailhead near Integris Hospital along I-35. This interactive art piece was envisioned by local artist, Zonly Looman, who sketched the idea two years ago.

“I was brainstorming ideas to make sculptures out of recycled materials. One was a buffalo made of bicycle tires. Two years later, my dad, Robert Looman, learned that the Edmond Visual Arts Commission was looking for an interactive art piece to put along the bicycle trail. He said, ‘I think my son has the perfect piece.”

The committee approved Looman’s kinetic design, with its spinning wheels and arrowhead-shaped base. Although it is Zonly’s first sculpture, the 25-year-old already has an art studio in downtown Edmond, called Studio Z. It’s where Zonly paints, builds, tattoos, and writes music. His largest painting is a series of brightly-colored buffalo murals on the alley walls of 100 N. Broadway.

Lately, Zonly has become sought after as a “live painter” in Oklahoma’s non- profit world. He attends fundraising events, paints on-site, and then his work is auctioned off for impressive amounts, ranging in the thousands! “I’ve seen bidding wars amongst family members,” said Zonly’s father. “When Zonly paints, he feels the vibe of what’s going on around him, and it inspires him.”

Zonly doesn’t think he has developed his signature style yet, but he often uses neon colors, which he calls “abstract pop expressionism.” He is heavily influenced by his Kumeyaay and Chumash heritage, two Native American tribes from along the Pacific coast. The American buffalo figures prominently in his work, especially his charity pieces.

“The buffalo represents abundance, peace, and new life to come. It’s also a warning to keep up with your prayer life and to give thanks. I call it the ‘buffalo blessing,’ and it’s the message I share when I talk to groups,” Zonly said.

Zonly visits schools to talk about his life as an artist. He encourages children to express their feelings through art, where there is no right or wrong. His conviction stems from an art professor who told Zonly that his colors and shadings were wrong. “I came home and blacked out a beautiful tiger canvas I’d painted. It took me awhile to bounce back from that and realize that artists can’t be put in a box with rules.”

Although Zonly experimented with art as a young child, it was during high school at Deer Creek that Zonly started drawing customized artwork on white canvas shoes for his friends. “I drew cartoon characters, graffiti names, whatever they wanted. I probably did 100 pairs of shoes that year.” He also got a tattoo kit, and his cousin said, “Hey man, you can practice on me.” What surprised Zonly was that he felt completely natural holding the tattoo machine, and eventually did a full tattooing apprenticeship. His mentor said that painting would boost his tattoo skills.

“He was right,” Zonly said. “One night when I was 21-years-old, I picked up a brush and painted a Native American chief, green with a pink background. I loved it, and I haven’t stopped painting since.”

Zonly’s father is very proud of his son’s success. “I’m very proud of how he’s relating to kids and he’s giving back to the community. That’s a lot for a 25-year-old, but he works hard, and he’s very talented.”

“I hope that someday, my art is in museums across the world, because I want as many people to see it as possible. That’s not just a goal—I believe it will happen.”

Visit www.zonlylooman.com for further information.

 

 

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