FIREBIRD is a 6’X6′ steel sculpture and was commissioned for station #30 in 1975 per city ordinance 11339. The artist is James Michael Kelley. The Firebird was the second work of art that was commissioned for a fire station in accordance with Ordinance 11339 mandating one percent of building costs be budgeted for civic art. The purchase price of this piece in 1977 was $2,900.
Mr. Kelley was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1934. Following graduation from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa he attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida on the basis of his record at Rogers High School. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1956 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He taught briefly at Roosevelt Jr. High before entering the army in 1957. After a short stint in the army he returned to OSU to work on his master’s degree. He also taught at Sapulpa, Wilson Jr. High and then his alma mater, Will Rogers High School. He continued working on his master’s at Tulsa University concentrating on sculpture and taught adult education courses at Philbrook Art Museum and Okmulgee. In 1961 he was named head of the education department at Philbrook Art Center. An article in the Tulsa World in January of 1965 places Mr. Kelley as the professor of art at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.
From what I could find when this research was done in 2008 he resides in Tahlequah where he owns a sculpture business, James Michael Kelley Incorporated.
Special thanks to the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa for the use of their research library back in the spring/summer of 2008 where I was able to compile all of this information after pilfering through many articles and files over several days. It was a lot of fun!
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