Painting the town red: Grant project for Downtown Oklahoma City art continues in 2021

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) –  An opportunity is blossoming for local businesses and artists receiving grants to use their work to attract more people downtown.

It’s an initiative started last summer during the pandemic – and it looks like it may be here to stay.

The streets of Downtown Oklahoma City are a little busier than last year and some of the buildings are a little brighter.

“This was meant to boost the spirits of folks who were coming downtown to remind them that we’re stronger together and it was great because we got a permanent mural to have in automobile alley,” said Kristen Vails with the Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership. 

Photo goes with story
Some of the striking mural art in downtown Oklahoma City.

Downtown Oklahoma City Initiatives works to place more public art downtown, in turn, supporting local businesses, but in 2020, the pandemic put a halt to a lot of their programs.

“So we launched the microgrant program to tap the minds of the community and artists and individuals to see what they could come up with in doing public art and placemaking downtown,” Vails said.

It was such a hit they continued it this year – funding $30,000 in grant applications from artists.

Microgrant recipients, like artist Marissa Raglin, receive anywhere from $1,000-$3,000.

“So throughout this year of so much uncertainty, it’s been great to have a project that can bloom through that,” Raglin said. 

Raglin will be creating a temporary wheat paste mural on the back wall of Plenty Mercantile.

The art is inspired by her “Garden of Plenty” at home.

“This is really a labor of love going through the pandemic and dealing with some medical challenges with my son we have been able to develop a garden together,” said Raglin. 

Photo goes with story
Another downtown Oklahoma City mural.

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Other spaces scattered downtown will be interactive.

“We have some events and activations such as the Crew Workspace ‘Think Park,'” Vails said. “This is a program where puzzles, activities and games will be installed in front of Crew Workspace.”

“Just being able to be a part of the Oklahoma art scene, I think there are so many opportunities, you just have to go looking for it,” said Raglin. 

They’ve budgeted to do it again in Fiscal Year 2022.

Installations will be in every downtown district and the work begins September 12th.

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