The Norman Transcript

Columns

December 2, 2012

Larry Walker’s public art wish list keeps growing

NORMAN — Art, in a way, is like hair styles. Lengths, colors, shapes and textures are always changing. A fad today may be passé next month.

Larry Walker hasn’t stopped appreciating art or hair styles since he came to Norman as a drama major in the 1960s. He wanted to be able to feed himself, so he got a license and began cutting hair on Campus Corner the day after Christmas in 1969. He and Joe Walden may be the longest-tenured, still actively working businessmen on the corner.

Walker beams with pride at the visual and performing arts available here but often wonders aloud why his neighbors are not as excited. They’ll go to New York City for a show but not across town. They’ll buy art in Santa Fe, made by Oklahomans, but won’t visit the artists’ Norman studio.

“I wish people just understood the impact of the arts already in the community. People don’t grasp the impact,” said Walker, chair of the city’s public arts board. “I would like to see a greater awareness of the arts.”

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It’ll be hard to overlook the arts if the board goes through with the idea of artwork on the Main Street Interstate 35 bridge, something along the lines of the 197-foot SkyDance bridge sculpture on I-35 near Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City.

“We’ve looked at it. For it to be large enough to be seen along I-35, you’re looking at a massive piece,” Walker said. “The scale and scope of the piece must be large.”

The price tag will be in the massive neighborhood, too, by our public art standards. He estimates it will take at least $250,000. A companion piece on the Lindsey Street bridge, perhaps with an OU theme, will be needed, too.

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