OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Months of hard work by five thriving artists was damaged, even stolen, by vandals. Arts Council Oklahoma City said the murals were set up outside city hall as part of a contest for its “Opening Night” New Year’s Eve celebration.
“It was heartbreaking to see,” said Angela Cozby, Art Council Oklahoma City’s executive director.
The destruction was discovered Tuesday. When members of the art council showed up to the lawn outside city hall, they found four murals pushed over and scattered on the ground.
“They are extremely heavy, about 300 pounds per panel,” said Cozby. “It would not even fit in the back of a pickup truck so I would imagine that there was a truck and trailer or some pre-planning that went into this.”
A fifth mural was stolen. Family members of the artwork said the piece was valued around $8,000.
The arts council filed a police report and investigators have started looking at surveillance video from neighboring businesses. Cozby asked if anyone has information to call Crimestoppers.
The artwork was created by talented artists from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. The five selected artists started working on the pieces in October. On December 1, they were moved to city hall to display so the community could vote on a winner, which would be announced New Year’s Eve night during “Opening Night.”
The contest is a partnership between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the arts council. The contest is in its fourth year.
Cozby said the contest will move forward despite the heartbreaking discovery.
“We’ve removed the murals and put them in storage and safekeeping,” said Cozby. “As we work to repair them, it’s important to still support the artists who put in their heart and soul into this project and to go online and vote.”
You can see the artwork and vote for your favorite mural here. The council said it will consider a more secure location to display the contest artwork next year.