Looking like some strange disassembled giant toy, pieces of the sculpture “Compass Rose” arrived via flatbed truck early Tuesday in Oklahoma City from a foundry in Southern California.
When put together, the stainless steel and aluminum sculpture, designed to look like a futuristic navigation device, will rise about 25 feet above Oklahoma City's Boathouse District.
Artist Owen Morrel, who designed the sculpture, awoke at 5 a.m. on Tuesday to greet the truck. Morrel, a native of New York, will be in Oklahoma City this week to oversee the sculpture's assembly near the Devon Boathouse on the Oklahoma River.
“I couldn't sleep — I've been waiting for this day for four years,” said Morrel, who designed the sculpture with the aid of 3-D computer modeling.
The spherical sculpture was inspired by navigation devices, including a sextant and an astrolabe, Morrel said. Although the sculpture includes a nautical theme, it is a happy accident that its permanent home will be in the Boathouse District.
Commissioned by the group Leadership Oklahoma City several years ago, the sculpture was originally designed to grace Bicentennial Park between Civic Center Music Hall and City Hall.
The nonprofit meant the sculpture to be a gift to Oklahoma City to commemorate the group's 25th anniversary in the city. Morrel's design was originally chosen by a committee because its art deco style was in keeping with the Works Progress Administration-era designs of the City Hall and Civic Center buildings, said Beth Shortt, executive director of Leadership Oklahoma City.
The compass design was also reminiscent of a compass rose design in the floor of Oklahoma City's City Hall building.
However, the “Compass Rose” sculpture ultimately didn't fit into the designs of the multimillion-dollar Project 180 park remodel, and a new course for the sculpture was charted for the Boathouse District, where it just seemed to fit, said Pat Downes, development director of the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority.
“Once I saw what the art piece looked like, it struck me and a lot of other people as a natural fit for the river corridor,” Downes said. “The idea of putting this particular piece of art in the Boathouse District is perhaps even a better fit that the original location.”
Morrel believes his sculpture has found the perfect new home.
“At the end of the day, I think it was poetic justice,” Morrel said.
Once I saw what the art piece looked like, it struck me and a lot of other people as a natural fit for the river corridor. The idea of putting this particular piece of art in the Boathouse District is perhaps even a better fit that the original location.”
Development director of the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority