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Greenwood Art Project Calls for Public Art Proposals To Honor Black Wall Street

This article was archived on 11/2/2019

Mayor G.T. Bynum and MacArthur Fellow Rick Lowe officially kicked off the Call for Artists to submit their proposals for public artworks celebrating and commemorating a vibrant community in the Historic Greenwood District known as Black Wall Street. Lowe, a nationally renowned artist and founder of Project Row Houses, is working with Oklahoma artists to tell the story of Greenwood through eight temporary art installations.

In January, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced $1 million grant to the City of Tulsa in order to commission temporary works of art accessible to the public. Tulsa’s winning project seeks to celebrate the historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, the location of the Black Wall Street, the most prominent district of black-owned businesses in the United States in the early 20th century. 

Proposals may be submitted by interested participants through November 1. Lowe will facilitate four workshops in advance of the deadline, with the first scheduled for Sept. 20 and Sept. 21. A second round of workshops will be held in October, at time and location to be announced at a later date and posted on the Greenwood Art Project website. Artists may also follow Greenwood Art Project on Facebook and Greenwood.Art.Project on Instagram.

Artwork submissions may take many forms including visual arts, performing arts, musicians, poets, writers, designers and more; all with roots in Oklahoma and connections to Tulsa and the ability to tell the stories about Greenwood, Black Wall Street and the 1921 Race Massacre.

Proposals must be submitted online via “Submittable” through AHHA Tulsa. The link to the online application process may be found at www.greenwoodartproject.org and www.ahhatulsa.org. Jerica Wortham, Greenwood Art Project manager, will respond to questions regarding submissions at J.Wortham@greenwoodartproject.org. The project applications are open to Oklahomans who either still live in the state or have moved out of state.

“Since the press conference when Michael Bloomberg visited Tulsa to announce we were a winning city of the Bloomberg Public Art Challenge, the Greenwood Art Project team has been planning and positioning the successful launch of the project,” Bynum said. “I’m excited to announce today the call for artist proposals for artworks telling the stories of Greenwood in a way that will be unique, moving, dynamic and thought-provoking. This project encourages connections and engages citizens and visitors alike, to understand the dangers of hatred, the power of resilience and the importance of reconciliation.”

Lowe said, “The Greenwood Art Project will speak to the tragedy and triumph of the history of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre and Black Wall Street. The project seeks to elevate the voices of Tulsans and Oklahomans by working collaboratively with artists of all types to produce art projects, performances, music, writings, and other forms of creative expression for the 2021 centennial. We are looking forward to a wide range of provocative proposals from individual artists, collectives, and community institutions."

Lowe’s role is to work with stakeholders and members of the community, including Jeff Van Hanken, Arts and Cultural Committee Chair for the 2021 Centennial Commission Steering Committee, to help shape the concept for the installations that will engage and help build bridges in the Tulsa community.

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Background

Located in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, in 1921 this community was devastated by racially motivated attacks known as the Black Wall Street Massacre. Urban renewal projects in the 1950s and 1960s, including the construction of a major highway through Greenwood, further harmed the area. This public art project seeks to celebrate the history of Black Wall Street and create a more equitable future for residents and visitors. 

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is a key project partner in the Greenwood Art Project. Composed of 46 members from across the business, cultural and civic landscapes of Tulsa, the Commission includes Oklahoma State Senator James Lankford and John W. Franklin of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture – who is also the son of historian and Greenwood resident John Hope Franklin.  Additional partners include the Tulsa Artists Fellowship, the University of Tulsa, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, AHHA Tulsa and the Center for Health, Arts and Measurement Practices at the University of Tulsa.

About the Public Art Challenge:

In February, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues and demonstrate an ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies. 

More than 200 cities applied for the 2018 Public Art Challenge with proposals reflecting diverse artistic mediums addressed a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, cultural identity and immigration.  Fourteen finalists were announced in July.

In November, Anchorage, Alaska was the first city to be announced as a winner in the 2018 Public Art Challenge for “SEED Lab,” followed by Coral Springs in partnership with Parkland,