Shane Darwent, Kolby Ari and Adam Baldwin are thrilled to announce their large-scale public art commission Bridging the GAP for the plaza of the forthcoming USA BMX Headquarters in Tulsa, OK. At the entrance of the new facility, a series of undulating cast concrete columns will punctuate the plaza, interspersed with freestanding concrete stairs. Both the artwork and the USA BMX facility are set to be completed in the fall of 2021.
Located on a former industrial site in the historic Greenwood neighborhood of North Tulsa, the new USA BMX facility finds itself on rich and complicated soil. In 1921, violent white mobs bombed and burned a forty-block area of the thriving African American community known as Black Wall Street, taking an estimated three hundred lives. With the exception of Booker T. Washington High School and portions of the Vernon AME church, only fragments of brick buildings were left standing. Chimneys with no homes to heat stood silent amidst the rubble. The resilient citizens of Greenwood rebuilt, brick by brick, until some fifty years later a string of highways devastated the landscape yet again. Stairs leading to plots without homes still punctuate the area, a stark reminder of the destructive reach of urban renewal and eminent domain.
A century after the Tulsa Race Massacre,Bridging the GAP pays homage to the resilience of the Greenwood community and connects their tenacity to those of the athletes and visionaries of USA BMX. The brick chimneys left in the wake of the events of 1921 reemerge in 2021 as brick-stamped sentinels of healing and hope. The iconic ‘Steps to Nowhere’ of North Tulsa are repositioned as a formal conduit for any individual– aspiring athlete and citizen alike– to pursue their full potential. Throughout the Greenwood neighborhood, past civic efforts have embedded bronze plaques in the sidewalks to commemorate the businesses that once thrived in the community. As new construction in the area multiplies, sidewalks are broken apart and repoured, slowly eroding the presence of these bronze plaques. A quiet but significant element ofBridging the GAP permanently embeds bronze text in the concrete plaza of USA BMX, spelling out the words Equity, Access and Sustainability. We cement this wish list of guiding principles, with hope that they tell the story of Tulsa one hundred years from now.
Bridging the GAPis the result of a collaborative effort between Darwent, Ari and Baldwin, an artist, infrastructure advocate and architect. Ari and Baldwin are native Tulsans invested in the prosperity of their community, while Darwent and Ari are avid cyclists who believe in the personal and social transformations made possible through cycling. Together, it is their hope thatBridging the GAP will serve as a threshold between the historic Greenwood neighborhood and USA BMX.
“As we anticipate completion of construction this fall of the USA BMX headquarters in the Greenwood District, we also look forward to this public art installation,Bridging the GAP,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. “Chosen by the Tulsa Arts Commission and other stakeholders, this artwork connects the resilience of the Greenwood community rebuilding after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with the new energy of this athletic facility built on a former brownfield site.”
This project is made possible by the One Percent for Public Art Program through the City of Tulsa. Generous support has also been provided by the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, a George Kaiser Family Foundation initiative. Fabrication and installation of Bridging the GAP will be overseen by Jonesplan Construction with engineering services provided by 360 Engineering Group, both of Tulsa, OK.
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