The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 12, 2014

Recreating city of Enid into a work of art

Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — There’s not much visually the city of Enid’s Visual Arts Committee has done since its inception in December, but the members are excited to get to work.

As the city commits to more large-construction projects, though, the VAC will curate art installations paid for with a percentage of the projects’ budgets. Their first meeting was Wednesday.

The ordinance that created VAC gives city commissioners the power to hold back 1 percent for public art as part of any project of $250,000 or more. That art can be a sculpture, mural or other artistic piece. It doesn’t mandate funding, but instead provides a framework for when the city must make decisions on public art.

The artwork will be pitched by an artist and then selected by the panel.

Any artwork would have to be judged based on compatibility, appropriateness to the surroundings, a sense of order, preservation and integration of natural features, appropriateness to the project and representation of a broad variety of tastes within the community, according to the ordinance.

“Overall, I hope to see some art that adds vibrancy and creativity throughout Enid. When you have a vibrant and creative town, it attracts more residents and work force,” said committee member Kelly Tompkins, Main Street Enid director.

It’s not a new idea. Other cities, both large and small, have similar ordinances to encourage public art installation.

“It’s good for the community, so I’m excited to see the possibilities for more art around Enid,” Tompkins said.

Also serving on VAC are Eldon W. Ames, Christopher Sneed, Edna Mae Holden, Mike Klemme and LynnDe M. Funk.

Tompkins said she believes the artwork commissioned by VAC will be representative of Enid’s values and taste.

“I think it could be an interesting selection process because there are various opinions of people on the board. But that’s what makes a good board ... is to have that variety and the diversity that we do,” she said. “Our diversity is going to make sure we have a variety but a cohesive set of art for Enid.”

One of VAC’s first goals is to create and distribute an application for interested artists and create guidelines for acquisition. Money cannot be spent without Enid City Commission approval, and any installation or maintenance of the art will be done in consultation with the artist.

“I’m very excited to see the city interested in realizing what a difference art makes for a community,” Tompkins said.