ENID, Okla. — "Under Her Wing was the Universe," an ongoing $255,000 downtown art project, receives a lot of attention, good and bad, creator Romy Owens said.

The installation has been somewhat divisive, with some taking issue with its abstract appearance and its cost, Owens said, but aside from a $30,000 public arts grant from the city of Enid, all funding has been crowd sourced.

The last two years have made her skin thicker "that's for damn sure," she said, but she's not alone in her enthusiasm for the upcoming installation.

That so many have given a dollar here and there, or in some cases thousands of dollars, makes it clear there's an appreciation for the project in Enid, Owens said, or at least an appreciation for the arts in general.

"There are people who really, really want to see this succeed."

The piece's Gofundme page has reached $231,895 out of its $240,000 goal, as of Monday, July 22. "Under Her Wing" has made Owens into a practiced fundraiser, and despite the negativity she encounters as the face of, and the mind behind, an often-scrutinized public work, she feels supported.

Owens' unique design, form and shape for the project have inspired donors and detractors alike, and it's not an area she wanted to compromise on.

"You really want to make something that is so unique to Enid that you're never going to see anything like this anywhere else," she said.

Public art can do a lot of good for a town, said Kelly Tompkins, Main Street Enid director and Public Arts Commission member.

"Public art, especially large-scale, unusual pieces such as 'Under Her Wing was the Universe' send the signal that creativity and innovation are welcome here," Tompkins said. "I didn't feel that growing up in Enid, but we are becoming more and more vibrant, realizing what it takes to attract talented workforce, and our community is getting fantastic promotion for it."

"Under Her Wing" isn't the only new artwork to grace Enid in the near future, she said.

"Lazy Circles in the Sky," approved by the city in October 2018, is expected to be installed "within the next few months," Tompkins said.

At the intersection of Garriott and Grand, three red-tailed hawks made of metal, measuring 6 feet from beak to tail, with wingspans 16 feet across, will rest atop metal supports, permanently mid-flight.

"This will add to the public art corridor that is forming along Grand, and will help lead people to our downtown, with a multitude of shopping, dining, art and entertainment venues," she said.

A 75-foot by 17-foot multicolor mural of a scissor-tailed flycatcher, the Oklahoma state bird, is near completion at Atelier, in the 300 block of East Maple, an Enid nonprofit currently transforming a pair of warehouses on the east side into low-cost housing and work space for artists.

An artist herself, Tompkins is working on the mural with her husband. She expects to have it finished in a matter of weeks. The mural rests on the wall of the east-most warehouse, and is easily visible from surrounding streets, sidewalks and a nearby park.

Dubbed "Oklahoma Phoenix," the scissortail is depicted "rising up from a graphic representation of a stormy Oklahoma sky," she said. "Enid is becoming more and more vibrant, attractive, and welcoming, and it is something to celebrate."

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Mitchell? Send an email to mwilletts@enidnews.com.

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