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OZ Art launches ARkanvas public art initiative

Times Record Staff
Fort Smith will be among the cities to participate this month in ARkanvas, an OZ Art prgram in association with the Unexpected and global curator firm Justkids.

OZ Art, in partnership with the Unexpected and global curator firm Justkids, announced Thursday the launch of a new initiative to install 12 pieces of public art across Arkansas. Artists will begin on Oct. 15 in Bentonville and will head to Central Arkansas later in the month.

The initiative is called ARkanvas, a statewide engagement bringing public art by world-renowned artists to Arkansas communities, including Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith (Chaffee Crossing), Conway, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff.

The theme of the initiative is Unite, a tribute to being united through shared outdoor and art experiences across the Natural State. A virtual experience will be launched at www.Arkanvas.com and @OZArtNWA on Instagram and will feature videos of the art, artists, and communities.

OZ Art was founded in 2017 by Steuart Walton and Tom and Olivia Walton and invests in bringing art to everyday life in Arkansas.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate the arts, support artists and create some excitement in our communities during this incredibly challenging time,” said Olivia Walton, who is leading the project along with Elizabeth Miller, OZ Art manager. “We love that murals bring art to everyone, and we hope that these projects will inspire, spark conversation and promote civic unity.”

Participating artists include renowned contemporary figures whose body of work re-imagines public spaces like Nina Chanel Abney, Stephen Powers (ESPO), Camille Walala, Robert Montgomery, Youri Cansell (Mantra), Lakwena, Hilda Palafox (Poni) and Alexis Díaz, to name a few. From murals to immersive installations, the artists who will be creating site-specific works and the locations where these are popping-up will be announced by OZ Art in the coming days on www.Arkanvas.com.

To curate and produce this initiative, OZ Art appointed Justkids, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary and women-led art platform specialized in public art. They actively collaborate with cities, community organizations, sensible brands and institutional spaces internationally.

“ARkanvas will offer Arkansas residents and visitors a joyous visual escape,” said Charlotte Dutoit, founder of Justkids, “we are thrilled to be collaborating with OZ Art and Unexpected to help communities come together through art and cherish their home region’s natural beauty”.

The Unexpected, another partner on the initiative, brings free and accessible art, education and programs to Arkansas and Fort Smith. Produced by the non-profit 64.6 Downtown, they create opportunities for a healthy and sustainable creative economy. The Unexpected and 64.6 Downtown have been recognized for their excellence in programming, including the Governor’s Arts Awards for Community Tourism Development and Community Arts Development.

This is not the first time Justkids and the Unexpected have worked together to deliver public art to Arkansas. Over the course of five years, they have brought over 35 pieces of artwork into public spaces, including the Rainbow Embassy, a 360 degree takeover at an abandoned house in Fort Smith by Okuda San Miguel, and a mural depicting an owl by Alexis Diaz on the historic former Mountain Inn building in downtown Fayetteville.

Please follow us on Instagram @OZArtNWA and check out our website www.Arkanvas.com for updates.

OZ Art, founded in 2017, supports the regional arts scene with its own collection displayed throughout Bentonville and by collaborating with regional arts organizations.

Justkids is a multi-disciplinary women-led art platform providing design, curatorial and production services for public and private art initiatives. Visit www.justkids.art for more information, and follow their social accounts:

Instagram: @justkidsofficial

Facebook: www.facebook.com/justkidsart

Twitter: @justkidsart

The Unexpected is an award-winning art activation program bringing urban and contemporary art, speakers and education to Arkansas since 2015. A project of 64.6 Downtown, the Unexpected consists of cultural exchange and community development and is a revitalizing action revealing Arkansas as an international epicenter for cutting edge contemporary art and cultural development.

They can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @UnexpectedFS or find out more at www.unexpectedfs.com.