OXFORD — A number of public spaces in downtown Oxford will soon be enhanced by works of art.

It’s part of a public art project recommended in the Downtown Oxford Master Plan to bring art to the heart of the city.

The downtown play says, “Public art provides character and whimsy, and provides benefits for everyone. Work by local artists can strengthen the sense of community.”

The Public Art Project will be initiated with rented art, with the prospect of enlisting the talents of local artists as the project continues.

The project has been brewing for some time, but recent actions by two governmental bodies gave the effort some momentum.

On July 6, the Granville County Commissioners approved the placement of sculptures on county property within the Oxford city limits.

Then on July 13, Oxford’s city board approved a plan to display works of art in several locations in the city to create an art walk.

Oxford Public Works Director Stephen Blasko said the project will begin with five pieces of art by artist Adam Walls, an associate professor of art at UNC Pembroke. Walls has exhibited in numerous sculpture parks and exhibitions across the country.

The estimated cost for each sculpture will be between $1,000 and $1,500 to lease for a 12-month period. The funds will come out of the downtown development budget.

The plan calls for sculptures by Walls to be placed at the National Guard Armory, Richard H. Thornton Library, PNC Bank area, the warehouse square and the courthouse common area.

Goals of the project, Blasko said, include promoting the arts, attracting shoppers to downtown businesses and promoting a healthy lifestyle by encouraging people to walk from one display site to another.

The art in the first phase is supposed to become a catalyst to stimulate a public discussion about the kinds of art residents of the city would like to see installed on a permanent basis. The exhibit will be expanded by one or two pieces each year for the next few years. Local artists will be invited to submit their work for consideration for future exhibits.

Blasko hopes to have the art for this phase of the project installed by the end of August so it can be enjoyed by visitors to the Hot Sauce Festival on Sept. 11.