Scissortail Park one of a dozen organizations awarded Bright Golden Haze: Reflections grant to create public art

Visitors to Scissortail Park will likely notice a massive bird-shaped woven willow stick structure taking shape just west of the Children’s Play Pavilion and the lake. The Unexpected Us is a collaboration with Oklahoma City artists Denise Duong and Gabriel Friedman who are installing the sculpture as part of the Oklahoma Contemporary’s grand opening celebration on March 13.


The Kirkpatrick Family fund, one of the leading philanthropies providing support to nonprofit organizations in central Oklahoma, funded a series of grants for Oklahoma City arts and cultural organizations collaborating with Oklahoma Contemporary to produce exhibitions and programs related to its inaugural exhibition, Bright Golden Haze.


The Park received one of these grants to contract with Duong and Friedman to create The Unexpected Us which will also feature a golden pulsating light suspended within a willow orb at the structure’s center.


“Much like a child’s fort or treehouse, this structure is crude, playing on the importance of imagination, the purity of childhood and the belief in magic,” the artists said in a statement about their work. “The structure embodies the contrast of the immensely complicated web of life encircling and framed around the golden glow of our own ever hopeful hearts.”


Thousands of willow shoots will be woven into the hut. With the addition of the bird features, The Unexpected Us will stand 14 feet tall and 22 feet wide. A lighted orb hangs from the interior of the sculpture and will be lit every evening.


Duong and Friedman have a long history of community engagement and teaching in Oklahoma City and will be on hand for a public unveiling of their work with a free reception that is open to the public on Sunday, March 15 from 2-4 p.m. in the Park.  The Unexpected Us will remain on display through August.


“The right public art piece in the right place at Scissortail Park adds so much to our visitor’s experience. They will be surprised and enchanted to come upon this whimsical piece. Placing it in one of our lens gardens, makes it look like a nest around the bird – further making it something out of a storybook. Denise and Gabriel have created the perfect nature-based piece for our park – and our park’s namesake,” said Maureen Heffernan, CEO of Scissortail Park Foundation. “We are so appreciative that the Kirkpatrick Family fund choose the Park as one of it grant recipients and congratulate Oklahoma Contemporary on their stunning addition to the arts and cultural landscape of downtown Oklahoma City.”


The new Scissortail Park is in the heart of a revitalized downtown Oklahoma City. This public space is part of the MAPS 3 program that envisions a healthy and vibrant quality of life for our city while serving as an investment in the future. Every detail is designed for connection – with nature, neighbors and ourselves. It is a place for play, culture, celebration, and inspiration.


Scissortail Park features a variety of engaging experiences within 70 urban acres ranging from ornamental gardens and woodlands to a lake and boathouse, children’s playground, grand promenade, water features, outdoor roller rink, an enclosed dog park, interactive fountain and much more.


Designed by one of the foremost landscape architecture planning firms in the world, Hargreaves Associates, the Park is also a horticultural tapestry of native prairie grasses, lush flower gardens, and tree-lined walkways. Together we have created something spectacular. For everyone.


Scissortail Park is managed by Scissortail Park Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.