The final vote held by the City Commission to approve $49,000 of hotel/motel tax funds was held Monday, April 13 at City Hall. Two of the four city commissions attended the meeting remotely, while Paul Taylor and Mayor Homer Nicholson attended in person.
Before the final vote was taken, Kelsey Wagner spoke briefly about the project, summarizing the mural project journey to this point.
"First, I’d like to thank the City Manager, the Mayor, the Commissioners and the other city staff who have allowed us to pursue this project, and who have offered a hand of support. We appreciate everything you have done, and this project would not be possible without your support, so on behalf of Ponca City Main Street and all the mural donors, thank you.
I wanted to say a few words about this project before the vote, something to recap the journey where we started and where it’s taken us.
On January 12, 2018, Rick Sinnett made his first visit to Ponca City. Since that day over two years ago, he’s made dozens of trips up here to examine the mural site.
For those of us involved in the process of planning, the last two years have been spent raising money, scheduling meetings, speaking with lawyers, filling out paperwork and figuring out logistics of painting two mega murals – this process has been a journey.
It hasn’t always been easy, but I see now that the process was necessary.
When I look back on it, every step was essential. Every step made us look inward and question our dedication to this project.
Every setback made those of us driving this project forward to re-evaluate whether or not we were 100% in…and every step of the way, the answer was yes.
Donors stepped up, community advocates stepped up, art supporters stepped up. With every possible setback, the unequivocal answer was – yes, we believe in this project, and we will see it to the end.
Even now, as our world faces a novel pandemic, the art that has been planned for over a year has taken on new meaning.
The East side mural, Oklahoma Sunrise, portrays an image of a butterfly transforming after metamorphosis, a symbol of transformation, rebirth and of thriving after diversity. That image takes on new meaning now.
And the West Side mural, “The Beauty of Life,” a piece of art dedicated to reminding us of the brevity of life, the endless and never-ending circle of life and death and the only constant we can rely on – change.
As we transform and change, I hope these murals can become a symbol of persistence in the face of adversity and hope in a brave new future, for America, for Oklahoma and especially for Ponca City."
The mural project will begin immediately, first with the creation of the giant stencils. The painting is scheduled to begin within 30-60 days.
Two years ago, the idea of painting a mural on the Grain Elevator in downtown Ponca City seemed like a distant dream. The $100,000 price tag was steep, and felt insurmountable. But, when presented with this project, the community rallied. They came together, they brainstormed, they advocated and they donated money.
And today, we reached our first milestone.
Ponca City Main Street began seeking donations for the mural project last August. After the seed money donated by Mr. John McNeese that initially launched this project, coupled with the money pledge by the City of Ponca City and with all the many generous donors that have since given, we are thrilled to share that including a very thoughtful donation made this week, we have reached our Phase I fundraising goal of $100,000! Our next steps will be to finalize contracts with the artist and the property owner, which will be happening over the course of the next few weeks. We hope to start the project this spring!
At this time, we will continue to seek funds for Phase II. Additional monies raised will help us with costs of building a deck from which to view the art, beautifying the area around the elevator, lighting for the artwork, creating donor plaques and signage, and hosting a free, public event to dedicate the artwork to our community. The initial $100,000 goal will cover only the costs for painting the mural itself.
We are excited for work on the murals to begin! We believe this project will enhance the sense of place within the heart of our community and make it a destination district. We believe it will beautify the streetscape and encourage pedestrian traffic downtown. Our hope is that this project will create an even greater sense of community pride and engage our local community in a lasting creative endeavor.
Thank you to John McNeese, the City of Ponca City and the many, many caring citizens of Ponca City for donating their time, talents and their treasure to see that this project is a success.
By Kelsey Wagner
Originally Published in the Ponca City News Weekend Edition, pg. 5, August 17, 2019
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the art proposed for the Grain Elevator. Closed in 1959, the Robin Hood Grain Elevator sits just west of downtown, a towering and ominous relic from the past, a daily reminder of loss and of days gone by. Ponca City has had its fair share of loss. It was only ten years ago, in February of 2009 when it was announced that Ponca City would lose 750 jobs at a major area employer, another exodus of high-paying jobs after an already tumultuous decade of closings and mergers. Ponca City has been, up until the early 2000s, a town primarily defined by a single employer and a solitary industry.
But today, Ponca City has changed. Ponca City is no longer...
The Ponca City Grain Elevator Project was born out of an earnest and organic movement to improve downtown Ponca City. This project began with a lunch. John McNeese gathered 15 people in January 2018 who he knew were arts leaders in Ponca City and challenged that he would entertain a matching grant up to $50,000 to help fund projects if they promoted art in Ponca City. At that time, we had no projects in mind in particular. In February 2018 Ponca City Main Street brought Rick Sinnett to Ponca City to pick out a wall for a mural. Not even a big wall, a small wall. Definitely not a grain elevator, just a wall. But Rick was moved by our city, its beauty and he just kept gravitating to the Grain Elevator...
On Monday, August 12 at City Hall at 5:30 pm the City Commission met for their bi-monthly meeting. The City Commission voted unanimously to pledge $49,000 of the Hotel/Motel tax fund towards Ponca City Main Street's Grain Elevator mural proposal. The mural designs were created by Rick Sinnett, a well-known, Oklahoma born American Folk Artist who is responsible for many large murals in Oklahoma.
Thank you to these generous donors who have already contributed towards our goal!
City of Ponca City
Ponca City Tourism
Ponca City Main Street
Jayne and Mark Detten
Rick and Kim Hancock
Who is funding the Project?
The Ponca City Grain Elevator Mural Project, in conjunction with the John McNeese, the city of Ponca City, Ponca City Main Street and other private donors is a joint public/private partnership to further enhance downtown's vibrant image, and to also provide a positive economic impact to downtown businesses.
Phase 1, 100% Complete!