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Enid artist’s plans to transform a downtown city block are ‘under’ way

ENID, Okla. - A rough framework, just a few steel tubes rising to a mid-February sky, dozens of others still laying flat in the grass - but it's a start for artist Romy Owens, who began designing the sculpture close to three years ago.

"It's so exciting," Owens said, while watching early construction. "Everything has been theoretical to this point. So, seeing steel in place and seeing the size of these holes is like 'What! This is crazy!'"

The arches, at least 20 feet high, stretch up from a vacant lot a few blocks south of Enid's court-house square. While we were there, a giant post hole excavator dug down four feet readying the foundations for close to 50 of the arches to rise up.

"It's really activating an entire city block," Owens said.

Interest is rising too on this part of town, once home to machines shops and warehouses. The city took it over and cleared the lot.

Owens had an idea to get people to stop.

"I knew it would be a starlit sky underneath something that would provide the housing for this," she said.

We sat down with Owens at a coffee shop a few blocks north to talk about how her idea took shape.

First came the lot itself then an arts conference in 2017 where Owens had hoped to have something finished.

"I was working on a lot of concepts and ideas," she said.

Still in the drawing stages, her mother passed. That experience formed part of her plans, too.

Her concept, called 'Under Her Wings Was the Universe,' is a walk-through sculpture designed to remind us all of the those influences in life that inspire.

"We all have these people who take us under their wing and show us what the world is," Owens said.

Traffic on this side of town is slowing now that work has begun.

The project has taken much longer than anyone thought it might.

"The steel took longer than we thought," Owens said. "Then, the permitting took us longer than we thought, and then you're really contending with the weather and construction schedules from that point on."

But, as it goes up, the struggle to get it to this point melts away.

'Under Her Wing Was the Universe' is one of those public installations big enough to stretch across a whole city - a long time in coming but worth it in the end.

Completion of the 2.5 acre site is scheduled for May or early June.

For more information on the project, click here.

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