Public art for the new Fire Station 33, 4109 S. 134th East Ave., has been installed this week, and this commissioned work, titled “Protect,” is available for the public to enjoy.
The 6-foot-tall, stainless steel sculpture is near the flag pole and public parking lot on the west side of Station 33. The Arts Commission of the City of Tulsa chose the design team of Joe Norman and the National Sculptors’ Guild for this project.
According to the National Sculptors’ Guild, this sculpture, fabricated at Joe Norman’s studio in Loveland, Colo., is intended to “activate the site and signify the exemplary service of firefighters in a single, free-standing sculpture.”
“The Arts Commission is very impressed with this artist,” Commission Chair Pam Deatherage said. “It’s an interactive piece that changes as you walk around it. Tulsa is very fortunate to have initiated, in 1964, a program where art is provided as part of the project budget - the 1% funded public arts ordinance - to include creative pieces on display at our public buildings.”
Standing on a 1,650-pound sandstone base, the sculpture has red letters spelling the word “Protect,” visible from one direction. Two other perspectives show the gray silhouette of a firefighter. Also according to the National Sculptors’ Guild, the final side, opposite “Protect,” is “an abstraction, symbolic of the unknowns that firefighters face.”
“To have the word “Protect” in fire-engine red strengthens what this word means to those in service and the community it serves,” said John Kinkade, director of the National Sculptors’ Guild.
Norman describes his work as “creating public sculptures that show different images or words depending on the viewpoint of the observer.” Norman said, “I believe that having multiple ideas coexist in a single piece is a useful metaphor for the ecosystem of ideas that public art empowers and protects.”
Joe Norman and the National Sculptors’ Guild installed the art with help from Tulsa subcontractors. “Sculpture is a team sport,” Kinkade said. “Thank you, City of Tulsa, the Arts Commission, Tribble Stone, Voy Construction, Barnhart Excavating, American Pipe Bending, Landstar System, and the community of Tulsa. We are so proud to be part of honoring firefighters through this art placement.”
A public hose uncoupling ceremony for Fire Station 33 was held in September. Hose uncoupling is a fire service tradition similar to a ribbon cutting ceremony. Funding for this new fire station has come from the 2001 Third Penny Sales Tax and the 2013 Improve Our Tulsa sales tax. The Public Safety Sales Tax, which was approved in 2016 with the Vision Tulsa sales tax, has provided funding to hire more firefighters to fully staff this new station. - City of Tulsa, Nov. 16, 2022
Our project with the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma is all but ready to install. Some Fire Engine Red will complete the look.
Just a few more weeks and Joe Norman’s firefighter sculpture “Protect will be in its new home at Fire Station 33. Stay tuned for pics of the install.
Update 9/23/2022: Barnhart Excavating poured the footing for "Protect" at Fire Station 33 on a blue-sky day in Tulsa.
Update 6/10/22: We've figured the footprint and and picked out a stone from the quarry.
The site has changed from what was originally planned, but we think for the better as the silhouette of the fire-fighter will be highly visible from the street. The word "Protect" will be viewed as you approach the building from the parking lot.
"I’ve been chasing down public art projects to honor service workers. Specifically those who put themselves at risk so that we may have a more healthy society: physically, mentally, and socially." -Joe Norman
with one side painted in durable epoxy paint to tie into the building's aesthetic. The first thing that comes to mind for us when thinking about a fire-fighter is the word "Protect" so that word is viewed from one direction. The other perspective shows the silhouette of a fire-fighter approaching their call to action. Opposite the word is an abstraction, symbolic of the unknowns that fire-fighter's face.