By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Mural Syndicate (OMS) has announced the beginning of a new effort to increase public art on the eastside of Oklahoma City.
The “With Love Project” is a collaboration between local activist and hip-hop artist, Jabee Williams and the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate (OMS), the nonprofit that manages the Plaza Walls, one of Oklahoma City’s top locations for public art.
OMS was founded by Brandi Guthery, Dylan Bradway and Kristopher Kanaly with a mission to advocate and create public art throughout Oklahoma.
Earlier this summer, Jabee and OMS began developing ideas how to amplify Black voices and artists of color through the Eastern corridor of 23rd Street.
The first opportunity to accomplish their goal came about through a building managed by Pivot Project, a local real estate company specializing in urban development, new construction and adaptive re-use. Their mission is to improve the quality of surrounding neighborhoods.
The newly renovated property, located at 1708 NE 23rd Street, provided a perfect location for outdoor public art with enough room to accommodate six large murals.
“We are so excited to partner with Jabee and OMS on this project,” said Candace Baitz, Development Manager at Pivot Project. We knew this wall, and its visibility from NE 23rd Street, would be a perfect backdrop for a project such as this.
“It is exciting to showcase local Black talent and know this will be a great addition to the community,” Baitz added.
Participating muralists were chosen by the management team based on their previous body of work and those artists who exhibited abilities to paint in large-scale formats.
The six featured artists include No Parking Studios, Tiffany McKnight, Robert Peterson, Dawn Jaiye, Ebony Iman Dallas, and Tony Thunder.
Studies show that murals build a sense of community and can make an area more welcoming and walkable, while promoting local talent.
“Murals are a wonderful tool for improving any visual landscape. From a place-making and business perspective, they provide a huge return for a small investment,” said Kris Kanaly, president of the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate. “They also give communities a sense of ownership, provide a beacon for tourism, and give a unique identity to their surroundings.”
The public will have the opportunity to visit the venue to watch the artists create their murals starting the week of September 28.
On Saturday, October 3, artists will debut their new works during a free event that will be open to the public.
The event will offer a variety of outdoor activities featuring live music. Onsite local food trucks will include: OhMyGoGi, Ice, Macks Up N Smoke BBQ, Fancy Snow Cones, as well as a JabeeLikesFood pop-up truck partnering with 2 Left Hand Veganz.
Masks are required and social distancing is encouraged.
“Being from the Eastside of Oklahoma City, I tend to be involved in art projects and events in other areas of the city,” said Jabee. “‘With Love’ is something for my community to love and embrace with Black artists expressing their different styles reflecting community culture and pride.
“Our community has some of the most artistic people in the city who are at the forefront of creativity,” Jabee added.
Jillian Taylor of the OU Daily wrote: “Throughout his career, Williams has been a vocal social activist in Oklahoma — speaking on behalf of the Black community through his music and bringing awareness to the story of death row inmate and former OU student Julius Jones.”
His newest album “This World Is So Fragile and Cruel I’m Glad I Got You,” reached No. 3 on the iTunes Hip-Hop Chart. Jabee will perform live during an intimate, socially distanced concert on Oct. 17 at Oklahoma City’s Tower Theatre, Taylor reported.
For more information about the “With Love Project”, call Kris Kanaly at 503-729-8065 or Vilona Michael at 405-308-7170; or email Candace Baitz at [email protected].