Tonkawa's Oklahoma Centennial Project
Location: 6th Street and Grand Ave.
Tonkawa, OK 74653
In January, 2006 Tonkawa artist Audrey Schmitz, inspired by the city's motto "Wheatheart of Oklahoma," began developing the concept of a heart-shaped labyrinth as the community's contribution to the state centennial celebration. A committee was formed, internationally known labyrinth builder Marty Kermeen of Yorkville, Illinoise was contracted, and after months of planning, groundbreaking ceremonies were held in Centennial Park November 19, 2006.
Applications were made for grant monies and a Valentine party was held February 14, 2007 to introduce the personalized paver campaign to the public. A major fundraising event was a chamber music concert organized by Dorian Rence, violist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Kermeen collaborate with British labyrinth historian Jeff Saward to design the layout of the labyrinth, the only public one of its kind in the world and one of four park labyrinths in the state. Construction of the labyrinth began May 16, 2007 and was completed June 3. Kermeen returned September 18, 2007 to install the entry plaza of original Tonkawa street brick, featuring a granite slab in the shape of Oklahoma, and the Grand Heart Walk of personalized pavers surrounding seven art panels depicting Tonkawa's culture and heritage.
The labyrinth, 45 feet in diameter, is a seven-circuit dual path beginning at the iron pausing stone cast by Tonkawa Foundry and leading to a heart-shaped goal. The golden limestone crossover crowning the goal features river flint from the historic Yellow Bull Crossing west of town. A walking path outlining the labyrinth is bordered by a timeline of 100 engraved pavers recording Tonkawa's history from 1879 to the present. Brick plaques spell out the word Tonkawa and the phrases They All Stay Together and Wheatheart of Oklahoma.
Heart in the Park stands as a permanent installation of interactive public art contribution to the education and heritage of future generations.