The Plaza District Association has announced that Wayne and Michelle Coyne are the recipients of the 2012 Urban Pioneer Award. Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, and Michelle Martin-Coyne, an acclaimed photographer, have paved the way for creativity in Oklahoma City and brought the international spotlight to our state, according to the news release.
After growing up in the Classen Ten Penn neighborhood just two blocks from the Plaza District, the Coynes purchased their current home there in 1980s. Over the years, they’ve not only seen the decline of the neighborhood, but they’ve also experienced it. Today, they are celebrating the Plaza District’s rise as a center for creativity and entrepreneurship in Oklahoma City.
“The neighborhood had gotten pretty bad. Years ago, there came a time when we had to sit down and decide if we were going to stay,” said Michelle Coyne in the release. And staying is exactly what they did.
“Staying and believing in this neighborhood, the Coynes deserve this recognition just as much as any developer, philanthropist or visionary. The Coynes are a symbol of our city’s entire generation of urban pioneers who have chosen to stay and defend the good of their neighborhoods,” said Plaza District Executive Director Kristen Vails in the release.
However, a neighborhood doesn’t thrive by its people just living there, it thrives by the community its neighbors create. They may be internationally known artists, but to neighborhood kids, the couple is known most for their spooky, out-of-this-world decorations on Halloween. Michelle makes sure her elderly neighbors are doing well, and they both frequent Plaza District events, always taking time to chat with starstruck kids and local artists, according to the release.
Even outside the neighborhood, the Coynes are making sure Oklahoma City continues to thrive. Michelle Coyne volunteers on the MAPS 3 Parks Advisory board, and the couple is working to re-open the Womb Gallery, bringing international attention to the arts in Oklahoma City. Whether at the forefront, or behind the scenes, the couple is working to progress the role of art and creativity in Oklahoma City, according to the release.
The 16th Street Plaza District has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last several years. As arts and culture continue to grow in Oklahoma City, the Plaza District is providing opportunities for new creative spaces, local businesses and engaging events focused on the arts.
To celebrate these achievements, each year the Plaza District hosts the Urban Pioneer Awards to recognize those individuals who have been instrumental in the rebirth of our inner city – “Urban Pioneers” who have made the Plaza District and Oklahoma City the vibrant and creative community it is today.
The Coynes join an impressive list of past Urban Pioneer honorees including Tom McDaniel, Lou Kerr, Meg Salyer, Mark Funke, Mike Turpen, Ann Simank, Steve Mason and Bill and Bob Ross, according to the release.
The Coynes were selected as the 2012 Urban Pioneer Award winners by a group of past honorees and Plaza District board members including Tom McDaniel, Lou Kerr, Meg Salyer, Steve Mason, Aimee Ahpeatone and Stephen Kovash.
The 2012 Urban Pioneer Awards honoring Wayne and Michelle will be Wednesday, Aug. 1 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom. For tickets and information, go to www.plazadistrict.org/upa.