By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – Visitors to the downtown Oklahoma City Arts District can now enjoy a new work of public art, “Folded Circle Split” by Fletcher Benton. The nine-foot-tall bronze sculpture, which Benton created in 1984, is the inaugural sculpture in Carolyn Hill Park on the southeast side of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
The sculpture was given by Jon and Molly Ott in honor of the Museum’s 75th anniversary. Carolyn Hill Park is sponsored by the Tom and Judy Love Family in memory of Carolyn Hill.
Benton lived in San Francisco during the 1950s and ‘60s and worked as a commercial sign painter by day and an expressionist painter by night. In 1961, he had a solo exhibition at the California Palace Legion of Honor and showed his portraits of fellow artists. Benton later began to experiment with movement in geometric pattern pieces and boxes. This was at the beginning of the kinetic movement, yet Benton worked largely in isolation, according to the press release.
In the 1970s, Benton abandoned kinetic art, switching to more traditional media for sculpture: bronze and steel. These works, such as “Folded Circle Split,” are designed to be viewed from all angles and have often been characterized as new constructivism. Benton’s large-scale steel sculptures are permanently installed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“Our dynamic Arts District continues to grow and change,” said Michael J. Anderson, Ph.D., OKCMOA president and CEO. “We are proud to be at the heart of the district and to provide world-class art experiences for Oklahoma City. ‘Folded Circle Split’ is an important work by a major American artist that both visitors and residents can enjoy anytime downtown. We would like to thank Jon and Molly Ott and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores for their great generosity and their vision for the Museum and our city.”
During the “Gifts for 75” campaign, the Museum was gifted the iconic large-scale bronze sculpture “Folded Circle Split” by famed American artist Fletcher Benton (1931-2019), adding to the Museum’s strong collection of postwar sculpture. “Folded Circle Split” is part of a major series by the artist that sought to create new spatial meanings through the simple gestures of cutting and bending flat circular forms.
This is the second-largest bronze Benton sculpture in the world and provides dramatically different profiles from different angles. It was installed July 3 as the inaugural sculpture for Carolyn Hill Park, directly outside the Museum’s theater entrance.
Carolyn Hill (May 1, 1938 – May 12, 2010) led the Oklahoma City Museum of Art from 1994-2008. She was a native Oklahoman who had a successful 30-year career in the New York City art world before returning home. As Downtown Oklahoma City experienced a renaissance inspired by the MAPS Projects of the 1990s, Hill worked tirelessly to promote a Downtown presence for an art museum.
She raised funding to transform the old Centre Theatre into the Reynolds Visual Arts Center – a modern art museum for a modern city. In honor of her efforts, this park was designated Carolyn Hill Park by the city council in 2012
OKCMOA has a strong collection of postwar art, including Benton’s “Folded Quarter Circle Red” (1976). The new sculpture, “Folded Circle Split” strengthens the collection and provides a year-round public artwork to enhance the Museum’s presence downtown, Anderson said.
For more information about the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, visit okcmoa.com.