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NORTH N.W. 4TH STREET

TO OK C N ATI ON A L M E M OR IA L

Art Underground

DOWELL PA R K I N G

O.N.G. BLDG

FEDERAL OFFICE BUILDING

AT & T

DEAN A. McGEE BLVD. OG&E BLDG THE RESERVE

L AW CENTER BLDG

KERR McGEE CENTER

PLAZA PA R K I N G

B R O A D W AYKERR PA R K I N G GARAGE

ROBERT S. KERR

LEADERSHIP SQUARE

C O R P O R AT E TOWER

GALLERIES

LIGHT OIL EXPLORATION HISTORY DOWNTOWN OKC HISTORY BANKING HISTORY

115 W. PARK

MAIN STREET PA R K I N G G A R A G E

I.R.S. BLDG

COLCORD HOTEL

S K I R V I N H I LT O N H O T E L

1 0 0 PA R K AV E N U E

MAIN STREET

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HISTORY COUNTY GOVERNMENT HISTORY OKC COMMERCE HISTORY INVITED ARTISTS

NTER

In a clever use of form meeting function, each of the hallways of the intricate tunnel system is lit by an immersion of colored light provided by fluorescent lights with colored gels. Not only does the lighting create a futuristic sci-fi environment, it also aids in navigating the tunnels. The colors act as codes with green signifying the passage way to a bank or financial institution, blue for federal buildings, and so on. One of the longest hallways in the system is known as the “Light Gallery” with a wall of perforated metal, lit from behind with a soft glow of yellow along the bottom, met with a brilliant blue glow from above.

CITY CENTER GARAGE

E TO FOR D C

Recently, Downtown OKC, Inc worked with Oklahoma City architectural firm Elliott + Associates to give the tunnel system new life. Michael Hoffner of Elliott + Associates, who served as project architect, explained that the idea for the renovation was conceived as a gigantic artful experience. Both Rand Elliott and Hoffner have been involved in the arts for quite some time and their vision incorporated that interest.

F I R S T N AT I O N A L CENTER

BA N C F I R S T

OKLAHOMA TOWER

1 0 1 PA R K AV E N U E

PA R K AV E N U E

ROBINSON RENAISSANCE

CENTURY CENTER PA R K I N G G A R A G E

CHASE TOWER

B R O A D W AY A V E N U E

TO CITY HALL

CITY PLACE

125 W. PARK

COUCH DRIVE

PARK-HARVEY APARTMENTS

NORICK DOWNTOWN LIBRARY

TO DEEP DEUCE

KERR PARK/ COUCH PARK

117 W. PARK

OKLAHOMA COUNTY COURT HOUSE

D O W E L L1 2 0 R O B E RT CENTER S. KERR

R O B I N S O N AV E N U E

TO A RT M U S E U M

COURT PLAZA

OIL & GAS BLDG

INVESTORS COUNTY OFFICE BLDG C A P I TA L BUILDING

S A N TA F E P A R K I N G G A R A G E

COUNTY PA R K I N G G A R A G E

H A R V E Y AV E N U E

H U D S O N AV E N U E

BANK OF OKLAHOMA PLAZA CHEEK BLDG

TO BRICKTOWN

20 NORTH B R O A D W AY TRIGEN

COUNTY PA R K I N G G A R A G E

CHAMBER of COMMERCE

by Kelsey Karper Beneath the streets of Oklahoma City’s reviving downtown is a system of underground pedestrian tunnels that total about three-quarters of a mile in length, linking 16 blocks and over 30 buildings in the downtown area. The tunnels, now known as The Underground, have recently received a face lift of their own. Formerly known as the Conncourse (named after Jack T. Conn, one of the tunnel system’s early promoters), the earliest tunnel was built in 1931, with the remaining portions being built in the 1970s.

FEDERAL COURT HOUSE

SHERATON HOTEL RENAISSANCE HOTEL

S H E R I DA N AV E N U E

TO BRICKTOWN COX BUSINESS SERVICES CONVENTION CENTER

LEGEND YOU ARE HERE

UNDERGROUND

ELEVATOR ACCESS

BUILDING ACCESS

Aside from the creative use of light and color that has become a signature of Elliott’s, the plan also included spaces for a variety of art installations. Several of The Underground’s passageways have been reserved for use as galleries showcasing photographs that tell the story of the history of business and life in downtown Oklahoma City. Another section of the tunnels is designated as the “Invited Artists Gallery,” featuring exhibitions of artwork by Oklahoma artists, selected by local curators. Devon Energy sponsors the exhibitions that are changed on a quarterly basis. The current exhibition in this space is Four Letter Word L*O*V*E curated by Sarah Hearn. The exhibit opened on Valentine’s Day and features mail art addressing the subject of love. Mail art is defined as any original work of art that is sent through the postal system. This exhibit continues through April 4th. As a part of the plan for the renovation, three artists were commissioned to create site-specific installations in some of the empty storefronts in The Underground. The first installation to be completed is by Oklahoma City artist Duff Bassett, titled A Conversation with Ishmael. Located beneath the Globe Life building at 120 Robert S. Kerr, the installation uses several cameras, a projection screen, nine televisions and a digital delay to capture the activity of passersby. As you walk past the storefront windows, your image appears on the screens at different rates, confusing the viewer’s perception of time and motion. Two more installation projects are in the works by artists Stan Carroll and Klint Schor and funds are being sought for additional installation projects in the future. The Underground can be accessed by stairs and elevator at many locations downtown. It is open 6:00 am – 8:00 pm, closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. For more information and a map of The Underground, visit www.downtownokc.com. n About the Author: Kelsey Karper is the Editor of Art Focus Oklahoma and a photographer working in historic and alternative processes. She can be reached at publications@ovac-ok.org.

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(top) map of The Underground (middle) Duff Bassett, Oklahoma City, A Conversation With Ishmael, Installation (bottom) The Invited Artists Gallery in The Underground.

SKYWAL

Profile for Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

Art Focus Oklahoma, March/April 2008  

2008 March/April Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into...

Art Focus Oklahoma, March/April 2008  

2008 March/April Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into...

Profile for ovac