NORMAN — Norman soon will have bike racks with personality. Colorful, creative bicycle racks will brighten areas of Campus Corner and Downtown Norman in May.
A competition, sponsored by Norman Arts Council Public Arts Board, attracted 200 designs from artists throughout the state. The project will begin with five winning designs.
Erinn Gavaghan, executive director of Norman Arts Council, said Jonathan Fowler, a member of the Norman Public Arts Board, suggested the concept to the board.
“I learned about a project in Toledo, Ohio,” Fowler said. “They have had great success with public arts there, and recently completed a two-year bike rack program.”
Fowler said the artists needed to submit their designs according to certain specifications. McPherson Machine Shop in Newcastle will handle the fabrication process.
“Bike racks don't have to be ugly,” Gavaghan said. “This project demonstrates how something utilitarian becomes a work of art.”
Dustin Gilpin, a graphic artist for his company, Tree and Leaf Clothing in Oklahoma City, said the design project caught his eye because he is an active cyclist.
“I thought, well, this is cool,” Gilpin said. “It's a unique way to create a sculpture.”
He described his winning design “Ride Fast,” as clean, simple and straightforward, with enough loops for multiple bikes.
Debbie Kaspari, Norman artist, illustrator and designer, and winner of two designs, said she couldn't pass the competition up for a number of reasons.
“I recently bought a bicycle, a mint-green Giant,” Kaspari said. “I think Norman is becoming a bike friendly place for everyone. This is public art with a purpose and I hope there are more bike racks, more opportunities for art and design of normal everyday items.”
Kaspari said she drew her winning ideas, “Thundercloud” and “Bison Charge” from Oklahoma weather and American Indian heritage.
Adam Stewart, a special education teacher in Norman, artist and also avid bicyclist, used the symbol of artists for his winning design, “Palette.”
Stewart said a welding class he took gave him good background knowledge and helped him in the creation of his design.
“I'm a bike rider,” he said. “I have pedaled thousands of miles. Last July I rode to Georgia to see my brother, with one 115-mile day in the Ozarks. So, when this competition came up, I was thinking in terms of locking up my bike, and how a person would use the bike rack. The artistic part was thinking about what says Norman. What says art?”
“Fourheads,” the winning design by Norman artist and bicyclist Chris McDaniel, is a fun-inspired design, sure to draw smiles.
And, that's what it's all about. Art out on the streets, bright, thought provoking and useful, too. And a great way to promote biking.