Sanctioned by the City of Oklahoma City, the Plaza Alley effort is a pilot project scheduled for 12 months with assistance from property owners Mason Realty Investors and Plaza 1529 LLC.
Taming the streets
Unlike most graffiti, which occurs illegally and often constitutes blight, the Plaza Alley Walls offer artists the opportunity to create present work on a building’s exterior through sanctioned channels.
Aspiring artists must follow rules and guidelines, and a curatorial body reviews and approves all new mural proposals. Further, participating artists are required to sign a Visual Artists Rights Act waiver.
According to Lisa Chronister, principal planner of OKC’s Urban Design Division, the City requires artists to sign a VARA waiver “because works of art may need to be moved, repaired, or altered for a variety of reasons that include public safety and welfare.”
But the waivers also contain protections for artists.
“VARA may allow artists to prevent building/property owners from altering or destroying the art without the artists’ permission,” Chronister said by email Wednesday.
The brainchild of local artists Dylan Bradway and Kris Kanaly, the original Plaza Alley application was heard at the OKC Urban Design Commission meeting Aug. 8, 2015.
After a permitting process, the project officially opened in September during the Plaza District’s annual street festival. Bradway and Kanaly also act as the aforementioned curatorial body
Organizers hope the ongoing exhibition of rotating artists will help define the Plaza District as an arts district while also increasing tourism and incorporating “community involvement through pictures and experience,” according to their application documents.
Perhaps the most notable recent change for casual observers is that the “We (heart) Thunder” mural on the west side of 1708 N. Indiana Ave. has been primed over, pending a new mural from Bradway himself. As co-owner of DNA Gallery and creator of the mural on the side of Saints, this latest piece will further stake his claim on the district.
The district’s monthly second-Friday event — LIVE! on the Plaza — features a Mardi Gras theme this week, offering added incentive to experience Plaza Alley artists’ contributions to what otherwise would be a mundane haven of industrial waste bins.