Buffalo statues to raise profile of conservancy
Apr. 28, 2004
Elizabeth Camacho Wiley
Copyright 2004, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

NORMAN - He has been nicknamed Buffy and Billy Bob. Once he's completed, his official name will be Sunflake. Norman High School art teacher Leslie Dallam and two students - senior Shelley Hall and junior Shanna Hardy - are putting finishing touches on a lifesize fiberglass buffalo that will join about 100 others in a downtown Oklahoma City art display this summer. The buffalo arrived at the school three weeks ago as a solid gray statue, Dallam said. It has since been transformed into a mass of linear colors that features the logo of York International, a Norman-based company. The maker of heating and air conditioning units donated $3,500 to the Oklahoma City Chapter of the Nature Conservancy to adopt the buffalo, which will be named Sunflake after the company's sunshine/snowflake logo, said Becky Payton, vice president of human resources at York. A fitting sponsor Several Oklahoma companies and individuals have purchased buffalo statues and are preparing them for the public art display, called Spirit of the Buffalo. The goal is to raise money for wildlife projects and to promote state history and heritage. "It's become a really fun project," Dallam said as she brushed a ribbon of tealgreen paint on the buffalo's hip. "I can't think of a better way for people to see your art." Hall, who has been assisting Dallam during art class, said she is excited to see the "parade" of buffalo in downtown. "I love art. I'm really excited," she said, while tracing fine navy-blue lines on the York logo. Dallam said that when she first heard about the project, she did not wait for a company to choose her to paint a buffalo. She submitted drawings directly to the Nature Conservancy and set to work finding a company to donate money to adopt a statue. It only seemed fitting that the company would be York, said Payton, wife of Norman High Assistant Principal Russell Payton. York has served as the high school's Community Partner in Education for several years, she said. "We just thought it was kind of fun," Payton said of the project. "We're supporting it because ... our headquarters is in Norman, Oklahoma." Payton said York plans to display the buffalo in the company's plaza after the public downtown display ends in the fall. Dallam said she is expected to receive $1,000 from York's donation for painting the buffalo. She said she'll divide about $200 between her two student artists.