If you have ever had the pleasure of driving down a street, walking through a park or visiting a public building in Edmond, then you have undoubtedly noticed at least one piece of strategically placed artwork beautifying the sidewalks and corners all throughout the town. These pieces are not there by happy coincidence—they are the result of a meticulous collaboration between the Edmond Visual Arts Commission, local proprietors and the city itself.
It began eleven years ago, with the passing of the Art in Public Places Ordinance. The Edmond Visual Arts Commission was created as a liaison between the city council and the people—a way for the citizens of Edmond to directly participate in the beautification of their city. What started as a project specifically designed to decorate the downtown area has blossomed into a full-fledged campaign to enhance the entire city. With the passing of the new ordinance, the EVAC was given an independent budget with which to purchase and install artwork all over Edmond. This has resulted in 154 installed pieces of artwork that have been carefully selected by the people of Edmond.
Perhaps the most recognizable of all the artwork is the bronze sculpture of Humpty Dumpty by Kimber Fiebiger outside the municipal utilities building. But not all the artwork in town is bronze. In fact, the EVAC is making a concerted effort to encourage further diversity in medium. “As we open new buildings, there is encouragement to place pieces inside,” says EVAC liaison Craig Dishman. To that end, there are multiple kinetic sculptures that move in the wind and offer a colorful perspective on modern art, as well as several murals and even paintings displayed in public buildings. Locals will recognize the mural on the climbing wall at Hafer Park, or the kinetic “Wheel of Time,” a steel and stained glass sculpture by Jeff Laing at the dental building on Covell.
Each collaboration piece features a plaque explaining the name and artist of the piece, as well as the contributor who joined forces with the city to bring the piece to the public. Likewise, the cooperation toward public art does not end with the EVAC and the donors. The city earmarks a portion of all improvement projects to put towards beautification, and public art is generally a part of that. Dishman notes that “The city of Edmond puts forth quite a lot of effort on making the city clean and attracting world-renowned artists.” The caché of having internationally known artists has made Edmond not only a lovely place to live, but a tourist attraction as well. “There are people in the art world that want to come see our pieces in Edmond. It makes us feel good to know that people are interested in our art,” says Dishman.
Some of the most beloved sculptures include “She Ain’t Heavy” by Walt Horton, a bronze sculpture of a little boy lifting his sister into an apple tree, which can be found on Bryant near 15th street, and “Cloned Cube” by Joe Slack on Boulevard. The EVAC encourages donors to patronize local and Oklahoma native artists, an effort that absolutely comes through in the pieces that genuinely reflect Oklahoma history and spirit. Local artist Shan Gray has created several works of public art, including the bronze tribute to Shannon Miller adjacent to the Edmond Public Library. Efforts are continuously in progress to commission or purchase new installments, and five new pieces are slated to join the already vast collection this year. Among the most recent, and a new town favorite, is a bronze statue of Sacajawea, which graces the entrance of Mitch Park on Covell Road.
A complete guide to all the public artwork in Edmond, along with a map, can be found through the Parks and Recreation department. Individuals who wish to contribute toward the public artwork in general can add donations to their city utilities bills. For those who want to simply appreciate the art as they explore the city, be on the lookout—it is everywhere!
For more information about EVAC, call Parks & Recreation at 359-4630.