Local Artist Janie Umsted was honored Tuesday when her life-sized bronze sculpture of the city’s founder Dixon Durant was unveiled in Market Square.
City leaders, Choctaw Nation leaders, community members and relatives of Dixon Durant gathered to watch as the long-awaited sculpture was unveiled.
It was about 15 years ago when the Red River Arts Council began trying to bring public art into Durant and 10 years ago the art began to emerge.
A base has sat in Market Square for 10 years displaying stories of historic figures of Durant. A base that Red River Arts Council President Gleny Beach said was always intended to hold a statue.
Market square was chosen for this project because the Red River Arts Council “saw it as a place of commerce and history that is firmly a foundation of Durant,” according to Beach.
That statue was placed there and revealed Tuesday January 21. “We are very proud of our friend, Janie Umsted,” said Beach. She said she cannot recall a time she has been more proud.
She said the council is proud that friend, fellow artist and member of the council was able to reach such a goal.
Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory Pyle commended Umsted on the recognition she has received for her works of art nationwide and said the Choctaw Nation is proud the city chose the work of a Choctaw member for this project.
After Umsted told gatherers about the statue, how it came together and why she created it, the statue was unveiled for all of Durant to see.
Following the statue’s unveiling, a reception was held at the Three Valley Museum where people gathered to hear more about Umsted, the statue and Dixon Durant.
Mayor Jerry Tomlinson spoke at the reception saying, “this afternoon was a wonderful opportunity for our community to truly celebrate our founder through the genius and artistic talent of one of our own.”
Museum curator Nancy Farris said this is not the first piece of public art Umsted has created for the city of Durant.
“There are little bits of her all over town,” said Farris, commenting that not many people can make such a claim. She said even some of the artwork in the museum was created by Umsted.
Journey Stories at the museum began at 5:30 p.m. The event followed the theme of the day with Dr. David Norris talking about Dixon Durant and his family.