The Norman Transcript


December 2, 2012

Larry Walker’s public art wish list keeps growing



By comparison, the Indian Grasses sculpture commissioned by the public arts board costs $60,000 and is three stories tall.

“That’s at least the size and scale we would need on Main Street,” he said. “Our biggest issue is whether we can raise that kind of money and not jeopardize the overall arts community in the fundraising.”

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Walker has chaired the public arts board since its city council creation in 2007. Norman is one of four cities to have such a board. He is proud of the handful of pieces the board has commissioned to date.

Over the next few months, three more $1,500 duck sculptures will be installed in city parks similar to the ones in Lions, Andrews and Colonial Estates parks. Twenty-six of the city’s 67 parks are designated as children’s parks.

By comparison, Edmond’s public arts board has championed 134 art pieces over the last 10 years. The city gets a dolar-for-dollar match with businesses and neighborhoods that support a piece of art.

Some cities, not including Norman, have ordinances requiring public building projects to include 1 percent of the budget be spent on art. A move in that direction tanked when the economy deteriorated about five years ago.

“At some point in the future, that’s definitely something we would like to see happen,” Walker said.

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Walker said Norman has the talent and resources to be more active in art. In the 37 years of the governor’s arts awards, 49 honors have gone to Norman residents, businesses and organizations.

Many of those have OU connections. Earlier this month graduate students installed art in Lions Park. With the permission of OU, the arts board has documented and photographed all of the public art within the city. An upcoming strategic planning session will re-evaluate an arts master plan for the city.

“Those of us who have been involved in the arts have a wish list, and every few years, we cross something off of it. Either we finish it or we say there’s no way in hell that we can do that.”


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