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Norman's Artful Inlets returns for second year raising awareness about water pollutants through art

"Runoff Pollutes" Artful Inlet

Ginna Dowling's "Runoff Pollutes" Artful Inlet in front of Syrup on Main Street April 19, 2019.

The Norman Arts Council is inviting artists to submit designs and transform city storm drains into public works of art to raise environmental awareness. 

The Artful Inlets Project is a series of paintings surrounding storm drains on Main Street, designed to raise awareness about pollutants that enter these storm drains and are transported directly to creeks and streams without any treatment. This will be the second year that local artists can join this project. 

“I think this is an important project because clean water is crucial,” said Debby Williams, public art manager for Norman Arts Council. “Our goal is to use art to educate the general public about the importance of protecting our water resources by reducing the amount of pollution that is carried by stormwater runoff to our creeks and streams.” 

For the 2nd annual Artful Inlets program, the Norman Arts Council, Public Arts Board, and City of Norman invite artists to submit designs that will educate and raise awareness about pollutants that go down storm drains and have a devastating impact on local water quality, according to a press release

There are currently five Artful Inlets on Main Street that can be found between Jenkins and Porter avenues, and an additional five drains will be added to this year’s project. They will all be on Main Street between Crawford and Webster Streets.  

Artists, or a team of artists, aged 18 or older, can submit an original design for the project until Feb. 14. If selected, artists will install their design to a prescribed area around the storm drain with provided materials. Designs should be centralized around stormwater pollution or environmental protection and must include the slogan “H2Only” within the design, according to the press release.  

“We do believe that the colorful, whimsical paintings capture people's attention and the message contained in them is effectively conveyed,” Williams said.  “Also, we were honored that the program was nominated for a statewide Keep Oklahoma Beautiful award for environmental excellence. Our goal is to make this an annual event choosing locations that will eventually be all across Norman.”

An information session will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art Gallery, 122 E. Main St. 

Artists will be selected and notified by March 9, and the installation of the artwork will be April 10-11, weather permitting. 

There will also be a walking tour with Mayor Clark celebrating the Artful Inlets at 10 a.m. on April 15.

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