ENID, Okla. — Artists behind the proposed downtown art project will hold a fundraiser and reception Thursday in Enid.
The event, sponsored by Park Avenue Thrift and resident John Martin, will be held at Cafe Garcia. Donations made during the fundraiser will be matched by both Park Avenue Thrift and Martin, up to $5,000 each, essentially tripling any donation.
"Park Avenue Thrift, of course, is an amazing supporter of art in Enid, and I love the fact that they are so dedicated to supporting all the arts," said Enid native Romy Owens, an Oklahoma City-based artist behind the proposed “Under Her Wing was the Universe” sculptural pavilion. She's working with OKC architect Adam Lanham on the project.
The founders of Park Avenue Thrift, David Hume and Paula Nightengale, have known Owens since she was a child and were happy to support the project in this way, Owens said. According to the counter on Park Avenue Thrift's website, the business has given more than $2 million in support of the local community over the years since its founding.
Hume said Park Avenue Thrift is excited about the project, the proposed location, and both the prairie landscaping that is proposed and the "stars and galaxies" that will be a part of the pavilion on the inside. He said it'll be great to bring a different, unique public art to the city.
"We think it will be very attractive to be in that gateway to downtown Enid," Hume said. "(There) really is no better place in Enid for it."
Owens said John Martin, her father, has been a lifelong supporter of arts in Enid, too, supporting fundraising for Gaslight Theatre years ago, Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center and more.
"I'm looking for the opportunity to talk to people," Owens said. "The whole point of the reception, as a fundraiser, is to give people the opportunity to come and meet me and Adam and ask us questions and learn more about the project from us in person."
If approved, the art project would be constructed on designated city green space just south of Central National Bank Center, on Park between Grand and Independence. After being displayed 10 years, the city can decide to keep the art or remove it.
At last week's city commission meeting after around two hours of discussion, commissioners voted to table a decision on approval of the project and $30,000 in funding until its July 18 meeting. The $30,000 in funding would come through the Public Art Commission of Enid's budget of $75,000, a separate budget from those allocated toward things like street repairs.
"Clearly, there was a disconnect with a few of the commissioners in feeling like we didn’t give them enough information (before), and I’ll take ownership of that," Owens said. "I thought we had submitted everything that had been asked of us."
She said when she and Lanham looked back on the meeting, in hindsight, they could have had fleshed out the prairie part of the project better and provided new renderings to show that the pavilion would not obstruct views of CNB Center and other downtown buildings, among other things.
"I think over the next few days we’ll be able to communicate those things with the commissioners so that they’ll have a little more time to process this and we can go into that meeting next Tuesday and just clarify any other additional questions they have," She said.
Owens said she's optimistic about the meeting next week.
"I know we both are remarkably confident that ultimately they’re going to decide this is a good thing and activating this land instead of leaving it empty for the next 15 years is a good idea," Owens said.
Hume said the proposed project will be a great addition for Enid, a city he said stands out from other cities of similar size.
"Enid has always been an unusual community in that it has amazing things most cities our size doesn't have. This will be one of those things," Hume said.
During the fundraiser people will have the option to pledge money instead of outright donations, which also would count toward the money match by Park Avenue Thrift and Martin. Owens also said donations made online on the GoFundMe page for the project during the Thursday fundraiser will count toward the match as well.
The fundraiser will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Cafe Garcia on 324 S. Grand. Questions about the fundraiser and project can be sent to email@example.com.