OKC VeloCity | OKCís Festival of the Arts, an annual gateway to art

OKCís Festival of the Arts, an annual gateway to art

By Josh Vaughn / Lifestyle / April 22, 2019

Accessibility factors help make the Festival of the Arts an easy gateway to experience art and culture.

The 2019 Festival of the Arts kicks off its 53rd annual edition April 23 in downtown Bicentennial Park, running through April 28.  It is free for all to attend. For many, this festival is much more than just another event. It has become an OKC annual rite of passage and its collective gateway to the arts.

Local artists and those from across the country come to exhibit their work in a variety of mediums.

Because of its sheer size and accessibility, it truly is everyone’s festival. There is something for all to enjoy. Its central location makes it easy to reach by car, foot, bike, scooter, or streetcar. The Arts Council has also included many free or low-cost options to help as many as possible to have the complete Festival of the Arts experience. The combination of prime location and minimal spending threshold make the festival one for all to enjoy and in turn, becomes the greatest opportunity for many to see and experience art in a way that they might not have the opportunity to otherwise. This OKC jewel has become a stand-out festival in our nation and definitely something we can be proud of.

The festival's central location makes it easy to access by car, foot, bike, scooter or streetcar.

If you are on a budget, you still can spend a fulfilling day enjoying creative outlets for the kids, watching performing artists and entertainers of all types, taking in art from over 144 unique artists, and learning from various culinary demonstrations, all for free! For just a bit more than free, you can do even more. Find affordable food at places like Mustard’s Last Stand, who will be serving up options for three dollars or less. Drop by and see Colin Rosebrook, owner of Paseo Pottery, at the Pottery Place booth and create your own ceramic masterpiece for as little as five dollars. You will find several opportunities in addition to these that will enable you to enjoy the festival without breaking the bank.

Festival-goers create take-away art for as little as five bucks at the Pottery Place, run by local artist and artisan Colin Rosebrook of Paseo Pottery.

Because of its accessibility, for many, it has become an annual trek of tradition to make the journey to downtown OKC to partake in festival mainstays. Consistently the festival has drawn a great selection of artists over the years. The selection committee works to ensure there are a good mix of nationally and locally acclaimed artists represented, some of which have made returning to the festival their own personal tradition. With over 400 entrants this year, it is a privilege to be one of the 144 selected to be a part of the event. The established longevity, popularity and success of festival brings some of the most talented of artists and artisans to OKC for everyone to enjoy. Each year festival attendees can explore sculpture, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photography and numerous other mediums of creativity at the artist vendor booths. Don’t forget to drop by the Youth Art Sale, a one-day juried art sale held Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Youth from ages eight to eighteen sell their own creations in painting, photography, and two- and three-dimensional art. You might just find the next up-and-coming master among OKC’s best and brightest creative talents.

A youth adds their touch to last year's collaborative art project. 

Another mainstay of the festival is offering child-friendly events for the young and young at heart. Face painting is always a crowd pleaser for the kids. This year, all ages can get a simple design by a festival volunteer for only a dollar, or they can spend five to fifteen dollars to get more elaborate designs created by the Bricktown Clowns. At the Children’s Art Field on the west lawn of City Hall, for only three dollars, children ages three to twelve years old will be able to create three different art projects of their own. The Creation Station invites everyone regardless of age to be a collaborative artist on a larger than life work where everyone chips in to create a sculpture in constant flux. Select festival artists will also be selling original works of art at the Young-At-Art Mart, created for ages five to twelve to browse and buy art on their own at tyke-sized prices.

Keep an eye out for performing artists of all kinds throughout the festival grounds.

Regular attendees know when it comes to the culinary arts, the festival consistently offers up phenomenal food options to enjoy. Take your senses on a journey down International Food Row and experience a cultural exchange of sights, smells, and tastes. Within short walking distance of each other, one can visit vendor booths to sample plates fashioned from Mediterranean, Indian, Southeast Asian, and German inspirations. More localized palates are in luck as well, as there are plenty of less exotic yet just-as-yummy choices like chicken and waffles or mac and cheese. The nostalgic may want to keep it simple and just stick to the festival oldies but goodies such as Indian Tacos and Strawberries Newport. Either way, there is always a little bit of something old and new to try.

The food vendor selection makes it hard to choose just one. So don't, grab some friends and get one of everything you are craving and try it all.

OKC’s Festival of the Arts truly does bring the arts to everyone. It removes many of the barriers that limit art appreciation. Whether celebrating the festival for the first time or the fifty-third, get out an see for yourself one of the largest and most successful festivals in the country. The Festival of the Arts kicks off Tuesday, April 23 and runs through Sunday, April 28. The festival opens at 11 a.m. each day and wraps things up at 9 p.m. every night except Sunday, and then the doors close on this year's event at 6 p.m. The festival organizers ask that you please leave your pets at home. Information is subject to change, so check out the festival website at www.artscouncilokc.com/festival-of-the-arts/festival-information for the latest updates.

The festival is full of great moments to experience, Instagram-able and otherwise.

Arts Council Oklahoma City is a non-profit 501 ©(3) organization dedicated to bringing the arts and the community together through free or low-cost cultural events and a variety of arts outreach activities that impact underserved populations. Each year, Arts Council events, programs, and services reach nearly one million Oklahoma City residents and visitors. Arts Council Oklahoma City is sponsored by Devon Energy, MidFirst Bank, Inasmuch Foundation, The Oklahoman, OG&E, Ozarka, Sonic - America's Drive-in, ICG, Toucan Production, and Tyler Media. Arts Council Oklahoma City receives funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Kirkpatrick Family Foundation and is an Allied Arts member agency. For more information, call 405-270-4848 or visit www.ArtsCouncilOKC.com.

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