Walton-backed initiative will install public art across Arkansas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,447 views 

OZ Art, in partnership with the Unexpected and global curator firm Justkids, announced Thursday (Oct. 1) the launch of a new initiative to install 12 pieces of public art across Arkansas during the next two months. 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 that will bring public art by world-renowned artists to several Arkansas cities including Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith (Chaffee Crossing), Conway, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff.

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

Steuart and Tom Walton, who are grandsons of Walmart Inc. founders Sam and Helen Walton, and Tom’s wife, Olivia Walton, founded OZ Art in 2017 to invest 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,” Olivia Walton said in a statement. She 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 like Nina Chanel Abney, Stephen Powers (ESPO), Camille Walala, Robert Montgomery, Youri Cansell (Mantra), Lakwena, Hilda Palafox (Poni) and Alexis Díaz. From murals to immersive installations, the artists who will be creating site-specific works and the locations where they are popping-up will be announced by OZ Art in the coming days on the website.

To curate and produce the initiative, OZ Art appointed Justkids, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary and women-led art platform specialized in public art.

“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 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 Fort Smith nonprofit 64.6 Downtown have been recognized for their programming, including the Governor’s Arts Awards for Community Tourism Development and Community Arts Development.

Justkids and the Unexpected have worked together previously to deliver public art to Arkansas. Over the course of five years, they brought more than 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.