An Oklahoma City artist said his sculpture on display at the Festival of the Arts has caught the eye of Dallas residents, as well as individuals in Oklahoma City.
But Jim Stewart, 69, said he doesn't want to see his art piece titled “Slam Dunk” go south of the Red River.
Sure, the abstract art sculpture of a larger-than-life basketball player is a striking “Thunder blue” color and is meant to capture the spirit of the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team. Of course, Stewart said Dallas folks have pointed out that their Dallas Mavericks NBA team members also wear the blue hue.
Nevertheless, Stewart said he is hoping that the $48,000 sculpture will find a permanent home in Oklahoma City because it was inspired by the Thunder's growing popularity, the fondness with which he and many city area residents feel for the team's players.
He said the Thunder have helped spark Oklahoma City's downtown revitalization.
“We've lived here all our lives. We've seen the renaissance,” Stewart said Friday.
“I get a thrill when I drive across the (Oklahoma) river and I see things happening. If anything, it's (the Thunder) pulled our city together.”
Artist enjoyed every minute of work
Stewart, owner of Stewart Designs, said a friend initially suggested the he create a basketball player sculpture, but it wasn't until last year's Festival of the Arts, which coincided with one of the Thunder's playoff games, that Stewart decided to follow his friend's advice.
“With the Thunder mania as such, I thought ‘I'm going to pursue this,'” he said.
Stewart said he started with sketches, looking at numerous pictures of basketball players to hone in on their movement.
And of course, the artist said he and his wife, Linda, have watched many Thunder games on television and attended a few of the games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Stewart said he made clay models using his sketches as his guide and eventually, the art piece began to take shape.
He said the sculpture on its temporary platform at the Festival of the Arts is about 14-feet-tall and made of steel.
The sculpture's orange-red colored ball is made of fiberglass, Stewart said.
“I tried to give it heroic proportions,” he said.
On a recent sunny day at the festival, several visitors took pictures of each standing next to the sculpture. Children, in particular, seemed drawn to the work of art.
Watching as the sculpture captured the attention of festivalgoers, Stewart said he enjoyed every minute of work on the art piece.
He said he never names his sculptures until he finishes them. “Slam Dunk” was a natural moniker for the steel art piece, he said.
Leaders pleased to include sculpture
Angela Cozby, Festival of the Arts director, said festival leaders were pleased to include the “Slam Dunk” sculpture in an area that represents an expansion of the festival's Sculpture Park.
Sculpture Park is an area on the east lawn of Stage Center and Cozby said this year, it has been expanded to include the Myriad Garden Park where Stewart's sculpture holds sway.
“This year we are working with the Myriad Garden Foundation and we felt that that area has a staggering effect when you see the ‘Slam Dunk' sculpture,” Cozby said.
“It has an overwhelming presence.”
She noted the sculpture's proximity to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Thunder's home games are held.
“We thought it was pretty fitting to have it right there.”
Meanwhile, Mavs fans in town for Sunday's playoff game against the Thunder may get a good look at “Slam Dunk” but Stewart said he's “pulling for Oklahoma City” as the art piece's permanent resting spot.