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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Festival of the Arts History

Festival of the Arts

The Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City is one of the largest, most successful and best organized festivals in the country. However, it didn’t always used to be that way, and like every Van Gogh, the story of how the Festival of the Arts came to be is a true masterpiece.

It all began in the mid-1960s with the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts, an endowment designed to provide funding for the arts across the country. Soon after, a group of representatives from art organizations in Oklahoma City jumped on the opportunity and established The Arts Council in 1967, with Marion DeVore serving as the first president.

The idea for the Festival of the Arts was ignited through a suggestion from Symphony General Manager Frank Ratka, who wanted to begin an arts festival to attract publicity and interest in the Arts Council. The date of the Festival was set in March, only three weeks away from the day of the meeting that approved it. Every board member participated in making the event a success, from asking local artists to participate to gathering fund lenders and even making sandwiches.

arts and culture, festivals, history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Plaza District

Dramatic changes in the past 15 years brought new life to the Plaza District. The district was first developed in the 1920s at the end of the city’s trolley line. For the next 40 years the area served as a bustling commercial district for the growing neighborhoods that surrounded it. The district started to a decline through the 70s, 80s and 90s but new development there since has turned it into a thriving hub of creativity.

The Plaza District, located on NW 16 between Classen Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue, is one of the city’s most walkable corridors and contains art galleries, a tattoo shop, restaurants, collaborative work spaces and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, which includes the Thelma Gaylord Academy and a performance space in the 1935-era Plaza Theatre, which has been newly rebuilt and is home to professional performance productions and other events. Lyric Theatre was one of the first entities to invest in the district, playing a crucial role in the Plaza’s rebirth.

The District is home to monthly events such as Live! On the Plaza and the Plaza District Festival in September. It is a popular place for visitors who want to find that unique gift, enjoy a drink and soak in an area that now has a hipster, modern vibe. Almost any night of the week you can find something interesting going on in the Plaza so keep up an eye on their events page.

restaurants, theater, arts and culture, festivals, nightlife, Plaza District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Bricktown

Bricktown

Adjacent to downtown Oklahoma City is one of the most well-known entertainment districts in the Southwest – Bricktown. With its large concentration of high-energy night clubs, casual lounges and list of restaurants covering a multitude of culinary cultures, Bricktown has something for every taste. And, when you factor in its picturesque setting, which embraces a mile-long canal lined with eateries, clubs, a movie theater, a bowling lounge, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and beautifully landscaped gardens and public art, you'll discover something the whole family can enjoy! Vibrant melodies can be heard coming from the American Banjo Museum and the Academy of Contemporary Music. Take a Bricktown Water Taxi cruise along the canal and discover the history of this energetic district. And while the weather is warm, be sure to hail a pedicab or one of several horse-drawn carriages that can be seen ferrying customers all over Bricktown. It's the perfect place for you to choose your own adventure.

museums, music, nightlife, restaurants, arts and culture, baseball, Bricktown, family-friendly
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spring break adventure awaits

Riversport Ropes Course

If you are looking for an action-packed way to spend your spring break, we’ve got you covered. From the thrilling adventures in the Boathouse District to the electrifying experiments at Science Museum Oklahoma, there’s no better place to beat the spring break boredom blues than OKC.

Students in grades 2-9 can have a blast during the Spring Break Ultimate Adventure Camps at OKC’s Boathouse District. They will have an opportunity to navigate roaring rapids at RIVERSPORT Rapids (opening March 11), conquer their fear of heights on the tallest adventure course of its kind in the world, speed down a 72-foot Sky Slide, free fall 80-feet on the Rumble Drop and zip line across the Oklahoma River. Sounds like a thrill-seeker’s paradise to us.

Other family-friendly ways to spend your spring break include exploring the Oklahoma City Zoo, discovering the Jurassic world that existed right here in Oklahoma at Science Museum Oklahoma or getting hands-on history during the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s drop-in activities. OKC MOA’s spring break camps include a variety of activities from sculpture to drawings and paintings. Myriad Botanical Gardens offers a different themed adventure each day during spring break.

museums, Myriad Botanical Gardens, outdoor recreation, spring break, western heritage, zoo, Adventure District, arts and culture, Boathouse District, camps
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Free fun in OKC

Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park

You don’t have to break the bank to have a great time in OKC. In fact, there are so many awesome free things to do, we can guarantee that spring break 2017 will be one you won’t forget.

  • Perfect your ollie, heel flip or nose slide on the bowl course or street course of Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park. Ranked in the top 10 skate parks in the U.S., the action park is certainly an OKC treasure.
  • Get closer to nature. Marvel at the outdoor paradise of the Myriad Botanical Gardens, explore more than 1,000 acres that have remained unchanged since before statehood at Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge or get hands-on with the flora and fauna at the 144-acre Martin Nature Park featuring miles of trails, a bird observation wall and watch tower.
  • Explore our heritage. Have you ever wondered what the earliest moments of our city looked like? A stunning visual representation of the first moments can be seen at the Centennial Land Run Monument near the south end of the Bricktown Canal. Learn more about our state’s heritage with a guided tour of the Oklahoma State Capitol.
  • Discover art in new places. Check out the modern art found at the historic Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant turned 21C Museum Hotel gallery. Even Travel+Leisure is taking note of this OKC gem.
  • Check out more than 1,400 items of Native American fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork at Red Earth Museum.
  • Learn about the day that changed our city forever at the outdoor symbolic memorial of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. The memorial honors victims, survivors, rescuers and all who were changed by the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

The Oklahoma City Visitors Guide, produced by the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, has more ideas for kids of all ages. Get a digital or printed copy, and start exploring OKC.

museums, Myriad Botanical Gardens, outdoor recreation, spring break, arts and culture, family-friendly, free, history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gallery Walk

Paseo District

The Paseo Arts District was originally developed in 1929 by Oklahoma City pioneer GA Nichols as the first commercial shopping district north of downtown. The Paseo still features the same Spanish-inspired, stucco buildings it did in the ’20s.

In the 1970s the district (located around North 28th Street and Walker Avenue) saw a renaissance take shape as artists began to move to the area and open galleries. Today the street is home to some of the top art galleries and local restaurants in the city.

During the Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk you can see more than 60 artists from about 20 galleries participate in this event, from 6 to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, and it includes themed exhibits, refreshments, guest artists and other entertainment.

arts and culture, festivals, Paseo District, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday Heritage

OKC Thunder Fans

You’ve heard us talk about the history and heritage of OKC. Why not explore some of our rich heritage and maybe start a new tradition with your own family this holiday season? There’s no better place to get in the holiday spirit than in OKC.

Explore Oklahoma’s Native American culture at the Red Earth Treefest. Your family is sure to be amazed at 18 Christmas trees adorned with handmade ornaments from Oklahoma tribes including the Cheyenne and Arapaho, Chickasaw, Citizen Potawatomi, Comanche and Osage nations each showcasing the distinctive and diverse cultures of the Native nations and tribes that call our great state home. Or celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas tradition in style with a visit to Fort Reno’s Christmas Guns event. Traced back to German immigrants, legend has it that the loud noise produced by the firearms will dispel evil spirits before the upcoming holiday.

If you’re having a hard time finding your Christmas cheer, kick your inner elf into overdrive with festive lights around Oklahoma City and sounds of the season at the Lyric Theater and Civic Center Music Hall. For sports enthusiasts, Oklahoma City has plenty to offer this holiday season. The Oklahoma City Thunder plays at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Christmas day and New Year’s Eve. The OKC Blue also takes the court tonight as well as twice next week at the Cox Convention Center.

Thunder, western heritage, arts and culture, holiday, Oklahoma City history, theater
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What to OKC

The view from Vast

The holiday season is in full swing and whether you are a long-time OKCer who is looking to entertain guests or a visitor checking out the city for the first time, OKC has plenty of shopping, holiday lights, museums, events and activities to keep everyone bustling.

There’s no better place to get in the holiday spirit than Oklahoma City. Here are a few of our favorite ways to introduce OKC.

  • Take a Water Taxi Along the Bricktown Canal: Enjoy the lights, sights, and sounds and get a quick introduction to Bricktown during a water taxi ride this holiday season.  Free rides are offered on designated days in November and December. Nearby in Deep Deuce, Legends Night will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 17 and will bring some of the best jazz musicians in OKC back to Downtown in December.
  • Gaze at 55 Feet of Beauty: 2,400 individually hand-blown glass pieces make up the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s 55-foot Chihuly Tower, making it one of the tallest Chihuly structures in the world. In fact, Oklahoma City Museum of Art is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures in the world.  Art lovers will also enjoy the eclectic exhibits at 21c Hotel and Museum in OKC’s Film Row district.
  • Take a stroll through the gardens: During the holidays, the Myriad Botanical Gardens is a favorite destination among locals and visitors as they enjoy the Devon Ice Rink, Winter Shoppes and the holiday carousel. The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory offers a beautiful balmy oasis featuring more than 750 varieties of plant life in two distinct climates: a tropical wet zone at the south end and a tropical dry zone at the north end.
  • Explore our history. Step back in time at the National Cowboys and Western Heritage Museum and discover the American West through one-of-a-kind exhibits, artwork and artifacts or check out the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum to learn about the day that changed our city forever.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of the fun going on here in OKC. There are so many festivals, games and activities happening in various districts, you’re sure to find an activity to appease any guest. Our friends at Visit OKC offer a plethora of ideas on how to get out and experience OKC. Learn more at visitokc.com.

shopping, western heritage, arts and culture, Bricktown, Deep Deuce, downtown, holiday, museums, Myriad Botanical Gardens, retail
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Distinct downtown districts

Film Row

Fancy a night out on the town or local shopping just steps away from the central business district? Oklahoma City’s downtown area is made up of districts that each have their own unique flavor and fun.

  • Bricktown - Showcasing Oklahoma City’s renaissance comes naturally to this entertainment district. The former warehouses that once housed industrial goods now offer some of Oklahoma City’s best restaurants and nightlife. The easiest way to see all this district has to offer is by way of the MAPS-funded canal. This time of year, canal rides on the Bricktown Water Taxi take place every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (weather permitting).
  • Film Row - Film Row is just west of downtown and is on the cutting-edge of Oklahoma City developments. Equal parts historic and revitalized, Film Row was once home to the film distribution offices for Hollywood’s major studios. It’s now a mix of artistic businesses, locally-own restaurants and more. Be sure to check out the eclectic art collection of the recently-opened 21c Museum Hotel.
  • Automobile Alley - Located north of downtown along Broadway Avenue, Automobile Alley got its name from the number of automobile dealerships that were originally located here in the first half of the 20th century. Now local shops and restaurants make up this effortlessly walkable district. And the fact that the future Oklahoma City Streetcar will stretch through this district makes it even more exciting.
arts and culture, Automobile Alley, Bricktown, downtown, Film Row, museums, nightlife, restaurants, retail, streetcar
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Plaza District

Plaza District Festival

Dramatic changes in the past 15 years brought new life to the Plaza District. The district was first developed in the 1920s at the end of the city’s trolley line. For the next 40 years the area served as a bustling commercial district for the growing neighborhoods that surrounded it. The district started to a decline through the 70s, 80s and 90s but new development there since has turned it into a thriving hub of creativity.

The Plaza District, located on NW 16 between Classen Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue, is one of the city’s most walkable corridors and contains art galleries, a tattoo shop, restaurants, collaborative work spaces and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, which includes the Thelma Gaylord Academy and a performance space in the 1935-era Plaza Theatre, newly rebuilt and home to professional performance productions and other events. Lyric Theatre was one of the first entities to invest in the district, playing a crucial role in the Plaza’s rebirth.

The District is home to monthly events such as Live! On the Plaza and the Plaza District Festival in September. It is a popular place for visitors who want to find that unique gift, enjoy a drink and soak in an area that now has a hipster, modern vibe.

arts and culture, festivals, Plaza District, restaurants, theater
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Paseo Arts District

Families in the Paseo

In recent years, we in Oklahoma City have loved seeing the development of defined districts with their own flavor and happenings. And a lot of those have emerged around historic neighborhoods that formed decades ago, in the early days of the city. The Paseo Arts District fits that description as it dates back to the 1920s.

This thriving neighborhood, located mostly between Walker and Lee avenues and NW 30th and 28th streets, was the city’s first shopping district north of downtown and features Spanish revival architecture with original stucco buildings. Its clay tile roofs are still intact, and The Paseo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Elms, an art gallery and studio built in 1920 at 2810 N Walker, was home to the first Oklahoma City artist studio and gallery and is an art gallery today, JRB Art at the Elms. After several years, small businesses and jazz clubs were added to the district. The Paseo transitioned into an arts district in the ’70s and held its first Paseo Arts Festival in 1977. The festival continues the tradition over Memorial Day weekend annually. In 1987, the City of Oklahoma City designated the Paseo neighborhood as its first neighborhood revitalization project, and it has been a thriving cultural scene ever since. The Paseo Arts Association helps foster this artistic vibe.

If you go, you can tour art galleries, take art classes, shop, eat or mix with artists on a regular basis. Or, you can stroll through the entire district during the Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk. More than 60 artists from about 20 galleries participate in this event, from 6-10 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, and it includes themed exhibits, refreshments, guest artists and other entertainment.

arts and culture, festivals, Paseo District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thoroughly Modern(ism)

PHOTO provided by Oklahoma City Museum of Art in anticipation of the Matisse exhibit in 2016. “Matisse in His Time: Masterworks of Modernism from the Centre ... Paris.\

[Photo provided by Oklahoma City Museum of Art © Photo CNAC/MNAM Dist. RMN - Philippe Migeat]

The Oklahoma City Museum of Modern Art will become a classroom for students of modernism during Matisse in His Time: Masterworks of Modernisn from the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Oklahoma City is the only place in North America that you can see this particular exhibit, which will provide 50 works spanning the scope of Henri Matisse’s career and 50 additional major works by Picasso, Renoir, André Derain, Georges Braque, Joan Miro and Amedeo Modigliani.

The exhibit, which is organized by Centre Pompidou, Paris (Europe’s leading museum of modern and contemporary art) and OKCMOA, will run from June 18 until Sept. 18. Members of the OKCMOA can experience an all-day member’s preview of the exhibit on Friday, June 17.

A primer for those who slept through art history class: Matisse (1869-1954) was a French artist regarded as a leading figure of modern art. Matisse was the leader of the Fauve (French for “wild beast”) movement, a critical observer of cubism and a contemporary and rival of Pablo Picasso. While he was also a draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor, he is known primarily as a painter.

arts and culture, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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We (he)art OKC

Red Earth Museum

Oklahoma City’s art scene is not limited to downtown, as galleries showcasing diverse works of art are spread throughout the different districts our great city. No matter what media and style you fancy, there’s sure to be something that piques your interest.

Check out the exhibit “Summer Wheat: Pry the Lid Off” for an interesting exploration of Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. David Steele Overholt’s audio-visual exhibit “In One Ear…” evokes nostalgia by combining overlapping video clips and a radio soundtrack broadcast of images and sounds from the 80s and 90s.  

Exhibit C, one of OKC’s newest galleries, offers an intriguing look at the talents of Chickasaws in Oklahoma.  Jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing from Chickasaw artisans are just a small sampling of what you can expect to find here. And don’t forget to visit Red Earth Museum’s Art Center for more celebrations and explorations of Native American art and culture.

Get out and see OKC. There are plenty of cultural offerings to keep you busy and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

arts and culture, museums, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roll out the red carpet

deadCenter film at Myriad Gardens

Oklahoma City's deadCenter Film Festival is celebrating its 16th anniversary June 8-12. Named one of the "20 Coolest Film festivals in the World" by MovieMaker magazine, deadCenter hosts five full nights of fantastic parties and screens more than 100 movies from around the world to 30,000 film fans in theaters across downtown Oklahoma City. 

More than 1,200 films applied this year and 106 were chosen, including 22 feature films and 84 short films. Twenty-four of the films chosen were made in Oklahoma, including four narrative features. Other standouts include Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and A Song for You: The Austin City Limits Story with live performances by Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Beck, and Radiohead.

This year, deadCenter is partnering with ACM@UCO in Bricktown to provide a full day of film seminars and classes that are free and open to the public. Classes are led by filmmakers and industry experts and include the following: selling scripts and ideas, editing, casting, acting, cinematography, directing and producing.

To learn more about the festival and to buy tickets, visit www.deadcenterfilm.org.

arts and culture, festivals, film
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Paseo Arts Festival turns 40

Paseo Arts District

The Paseo Arts Festival is a great excuse to discover (or hopefully rediscover) the fantastic Paseo Arts District. For 40 years the annual festival has brought food, fun, music and yes art to the district’s streets, drawing more than 60,000 visitors.

This year’s festival will take place May 28 through May 30 and feature more than 80 visual artists. Stroll through the booths and check out the art on your way to two different stages showcasing Oklahoma entertainers and musicians. And bring the kids for some hands-on fun in the children’s area (at no cost).

music, Paseo District, arts and culture, family-friendly, festivals, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A moment in time

Landrun Wagon Statue

Have you ever wondered what the earliest moments of our city looked like? A stunning visual representation of the first moments can be seen at the Centennial Land Run Monument, near the south end of the Bricktown Canal. Two cast bronze statues have been added recently to the larger-than-life exhibit, bringing the total to 36 pieces of public art.

The monument begins with a soldier and a cannon, firing the shot to start the run. Twenty-four horses and riders are commemorated.  Vehicles used in the race including a buckboard, two covered wagons and a buggy also take center stage. When completed, this piece of art will contain 45 sculptures and will be one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world, spanning more than the length of a football field.

Next time you are in Bricktown, be sure to check it out. It’s a great way to get a small glimpse of our exciting history.

arts and culture, Bricktown, history, Oklahoma City history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

OKC’s Rite of Spring

Festival of the Arts

From discovering new artists to experiencing global flavors, Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts has been Oklahoma City’s rite of spring for 50 years. And the 50th annual Festival of the Arts, April 19-24, promises to continue this rich tradition in its new location at Bicentennial Park located in front of Civic Center Music Hall.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Every year Festival of the Arts attracts up to 750,000 people over six days. Free admission, amazing art, fantastic food, exciting entertainment and fun activities are all in store for visitors to enjoy at this year’s Festival.

Visual Arts
The Festival features 200 artists from 41 states, including several artists representing the rich culture and talent of Oklahoma.

Culinary Arts
Take a break from the visual and performing arts to enjoy all the fine food that Festival of the Arts has to offer. International Food Row features old favorites like Indian Tacos, Strawberries Newport, Craig & Carter’s Famous Fish Tacos and C’est Si Bon. New additions to this year’s International Food Row include Meat Market Refectory, The Saucee Sicilian, Crepe Brewers and I Don’t Know & I Don’t Care. Each food vendor is partnered with a local arts-related nonprofit agency, so each bite goes to support the arts in central Oklahoma.

Performing Arts
Festival of the Arts has three stages of non-stop performing arts entertainment ranging in scope from the youngest elementary school performers to professional musicians.

Art for Children
Festival of the Arts will include many great activities for children and families. Shop from Festival’s youngest artists at the Youth Art Sale where youth ages 8 to 18 present their own artwork for sale. Young at Art Mart is a special no-adults-allowed section where children can purchase art created by their favorite Festival artists for $5 or less. Children can create their own unique work of art in the Children's Art Field. Face painting for $1 will be available.

All proceeds from the Festival support Arts Council Oklahoma City’s year-round, free and low-cost programming. Another unique way to support this effort is by attending the Angels and Friends Party. It boasts entertainment, fare from OKC’s best restaurants, an open bar and a chance to celebrate the arts and the coming of spring with OKC’s most devout arts supporters.

live music, music, arts and culture, family-friendly, festivals, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Where the art is

Throwing pottery

Oklahoma City has artistic opportunities for every interest and discipline. From taking art classes to supporting community theater, you are sure to find the perfect place to embrace your hidden artistic talents while supporting the arts in Oklahoma City.

Whether you want to brush up on your basket-weaving or discover your inner Picasso, the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center offers workshops and classes in a variety of mediums. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art also offers a roster of classes geared for both families and adults of all skill levels, including a studio sampler class for those who want to take an art class but aren’t sure where to begin. The artist-in-residence program at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel also offers drop-in opportunities to explore interesting art forms – current artist-in-residence Gayle Curry paints with encaustics (wax), and her live studio space is open to the public. Be sure and check out area art galleries for other options.

For a taste of local thespian talent, the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Jewel Box Theatre, and the Carpenter Square Theatre all produce a full roster of live performances, ranging from classic musicals to locally-scripted dramas. And if you want to combine dinner and a show into one extravaganza, Greater Oklahoma City is home to the state’s only full-time professional dinner theater. The Yellow Rose Dinner Theater showcases Oklahoma talent in original productions, all while the audience gets to enjoy a delicious meal. These community-based theaters offer audition opportunities, so if theater footlights are calling your name, be sure to check their websites for audition notices.

If making beautiful music is more your style, you can also join one of OKC’s many community choirs or orchestra organizations. Canterbury Voices offers choruses for both adults and children, and its 125-member adult chorus is the largest of its kind in the state. OK City Chorus is an all-women chorus with a goal to preserve the American art form of four-part a cappella barbershop music. For the former band geeks among us (no judgement), the Oklahoma Community Orchestra offers performance opportunities with its 75-member organization.  

theater, arts and culture, education, family-friendly, music
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Control the weather

Weather art exhibit

Whether you love or hate Oklahoma City’s ever-changing weather conditions, a new interactive art exhibit at the Arts District Garage will allow you to show Mother Nature who’s boss by controlling the weather. The installation, called “Small Talk About the Weather,” consists of nine bands that swirl along the length of the pedestrian corridor of the garage. LED lights illuminate the bands and display synchronized patterns; an artistic representation of Oklahoma City’s weather.

Visitors can also activate the color and movement by moving in front of the sensor window.  A small ledge allows visitors to place their mobile device and “translate” movement from a video or other active display on their small screen into a pattern of lights and movement on the bands. Visit the display at the pedestrian corridor on the first floor of the Arts District Garage at 431 W Main St.

arts and culture, weather
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spring break camps cater to many interests and help with child care

If you have to work or want to stay closer to Oklahoma City, sign up your child for one of the area’s many spring break programs. Here are a few ideas, both for dropping off or participating with your children:

  • The Oklahoma City Zoo offers spring break day camps for children ages 4 to 11. You can go all week or select full days or half days (cost is $45 per day from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. and $25 per day for 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). Kids will make tasty treats and deliver them each day to the animals, and the zoo will offer other ways to connect them with nature.
  • Sign your child up for Spring Break Science Camp at Science Museum Oklahoma, located in the Adventure District next to the zoo. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, elementary school kids will make things that fly; get dirty with chemistry, bugs and slime; play with water and more on different adventures each day. Cost for the week is $225 for members and $250 for nonmembers, but spots fill up quickly and as of this post, first through third grade slots are already full. But check out other activities at the museum as well.
  • The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63, is offering spring break activities that include weaving, metalworking, water color and more from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 14-18. It is free with museum admission.
  • The Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City is offering Spring Break Pop-Ins from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 8 through 17. They’ll feature walk-up activities that include garden crafts, planting seeds or going on a scavenger hunt. Cost is a suggested $2 donation per child.
  • Oklahoma Contemporary is offering Spring Arts Camps over two sessions, March 7-11 and March 14-18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Tuition is $170 and $40 more if your child needs an extended time there. Depending on the age and session they choose, students will create sci-fi videos, create art projects based on a space theme, explore art and music, work with clay and more.
  • The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is offering spring break arts camps from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 15-18 (Tuesday through Friday). Some are sold out, but children ages 6- to 8 can work with color and abstraction, while 9- to 12-year-olds will be photographing downtown.
  • The Lyric Theatre Thelma Gaylord Academy is offering Spring Break Theatre Camps from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 to 18 for the second through eighth grades. Cost is $225.
  • In the Boathouse District, kids ages 8 to 15 can take part in its Spring Break Adventure Camps either at the Oklahoma River or at Lake Overholser. A half-day option is offered at the Oklahoma River, but full days are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Two of the city’s parks, Martin Park Nature Center and Will Rogers Gardens are offering a Natural Resources Camp on weekdays from March 7 to 18 for children ages 7 to 12. Cost is $275 for both sessions and $175 for a one-week session. Camp will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The first week will be at Will Rogers Gardens, 3400 NW 36; the second at Martin Park Nature Center, 5000 W Memorial Road.
  • Finally, look into the OKC Thunder Youth Basketball Camps, which is offering basketball workshops in different locations.

If you have a favorite local hangout for you and your children, check its website for spring break activities. Oklahoma City Public Schools are out for two weeks March 9-18, so some places offer two weeks of programs. Also, the local Metro Family Magazine has an even more comprehensive list of things to do throughout the metro. You can find all kinds of things to do each month at www.visitokc.com.

camps, downtown, kids, museums, spring break, theater, Thunder, Adventure District, western heritage, arts and culture, zoo, basketball, Boathouse District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#SEEOKC

What to OKC in February

Thanks to our partners at VisitOKC.com each month, you can take your own virtual tour with a new “What to OKC” video highlighting that month’s events and attractions. And then you can dive deeper to get area highlights and happenings, as well as local trips for your specific interest – outdoors, sports, history, the arts, nightlife and more.

The videos post to the main page of VisitOKC.com at the beginning of each month. You can check out February’s video now. You should also visit the VisitOKC YouTube channel to catch up on past videos you missed (along with other great content). 

While we at The Better Life Blog can’t imagine living anywhere else, we realize that Oklahoma City certainly would be fun to visit as well. Come join us and (OK)See.

arts and culture, attractions, nightlife, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Adventure District

If there were an award for the most properly named district in the 4-0-5, the Adventure District would probably win. The aptly-named section of the city is home to more family fun than you can shake a stick at.

The Oklahoma City Zoo is one of the crown jewels of the city and features more than 1,800 animals spread over 119 acres. We recommend the Great escAPE (get it) exhibit where you can watch gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees monkey around. This is also where you can find the Zoo Amphitheater, the premier venue for outdoor concerts in the metro.

Next door to the Zoo is Science Museum Oklahoma which has been entertaining and teaching generations of kids about science since the late 50s. If you were raised in Oklahoma City you know all about the shadow wall. The museum is home to a must-see Science Live performance and a planetarium.

Nearby is the world-renowned National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum where you can find exhibits on cowboy heritage and one of the largest collections of western art in the known galaxy.

There is also fun to be had for sports fans at the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame & Museum. Not just a place for history, the Museum welcomes thousands each year for the annual Women’s College World Series.

Last, but not least, if you need a break from the kids head over to Remington Park Racing & Casino which is not only the region’s top race track but the city’s only casino.

As you can see the Adventure District has a ton to do (even more than we listed) but if you want to see it all you are going to need more than a weekend.

live sporting events, museums, racetrack, western heritage, zoo, Adventure District, arts and culture, family-friendly, kids
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gallery Walk

Paseo Arts District

The Paseo Arts District was originally developed in 1929 by Oklahoma City pioneer GA Nichols as the first commercial shopping district north of Downtown. The Paseo still features the same Spanish-inspired, stucco buildings it did in the ’20s.

In the 1970s the district (located around North 28th Street and Walker Avenue) saw a renaissance take shape as artists began to move to the area and open galleries. Today the street is home to some of the top art galleries and local restaurants in the city.

During the Paseo’s First Friday Gallery Walk you can see more than 60 artists from about 20 galleries participate in this event, from 6 to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, and it includes themed exhibits, refreshments, guest artists and other entertainment.

arts and culture, festivals, Paseo District, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Get funky in the Plaza District

Friends in the Plaza District

Breathing new life into Oklahoma City’s old Plaza District proved to be one of the city’s most successful moves. Development there over the last 15 or 20 years has lifted an old part of Oklahoma City out of crime and disrepair and turned it into a thriving hub of creativity.

The Plaza District, located on NW 16 between Classen Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue, contains art galleries, studios, a wine bar, a tattoo place, a pie place, restaurants, collaborative work spaces and performance venues like the 1935-era Plaza Theatre, which has been newly rebuilt and is now home to many of the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s professional performance productions and other events.

The District is home to monthly events such as Live! On the Plaza, an artwalk on the second Friday night of each month and the Plaza District Festival in September, and it offers plenty of places to eat. It is a popular place for visitors who want to find that unique gift, enjoy a drink and soak in an area that now has a hipster, modern vibe.

restaurants, theater, arts and culture, festivals, nightlife, Plaza District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Museum Madness

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Whether you’ve recently developed a large hole in your pocket, learned the hard way the downside to a “put it all in lottery scratch-offs” investment strategy, or you just plain lost your ATM card, sometimes you wanna have loads of fun without spending commensurate loads of cash. It’s cool – being thrifty is nifty, arewerite? This week, we’re all about free fun in OKC.

Let’s get started with a bang and “just a glass of water, thank you.” Did you know that you can visit some of our area museums for the price of air?

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art – located on the OU campus in Norman, “The Fred” is known for its collection of French Impressionism, featuring works by Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Pissaro, Vuillard and others, in addition to fantastic collections of 20th-century American (O’Keeffe, Hopper, Davis), Native American and Southwestern art. And the best part? Admission is now free for all, thanks to an annual $60,000 gift from the OU Athletics Department.

Hours & Admission Info: www.ou.edu/fjjma/visit.html

National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum – Located in OKC’s Adventure District, the Softball Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the greatest players in the sport’s history and their accomplishments, and history of the game. Located on the grounds of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the museum is a must-visit for softball players, aficionados or even casual fans.

Hours & Admission Info: www.teamusa.org/usa-softball/about/national-softball-hall-of-fame

45th Infantry Division Museum - Another Adventure District favorite, the 45th Infantry Museum features one of the country’s largest collections of military firearms in addition to plenty of WWII and Korean War artifacts, in addition to info and artifacts from other major conflicts. The museum commemorates the 45th Infantry Division and 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (aka “Thunderbirds”), an Oklahoma Army National Guard major formation from 1920 to 1968 and modular infantry brigade team since, respectively. Another cool part of the 45th Museum is the large military vehicle/equipment displays outside, with ‘copters, planes, tanks, transports and more available to check out!

Hours & Admission Info: 45thdivisionmuseum.com/

Red Earth Museum– Located downtown, the Red Earth Museum features more than you might think (especially if you’re thinking it’s just a museum full of various red clay soils—that would be madness). No, this museum is chock-full of fantastic Native American art items of all types, from pottery, beadwork and basketry to fine arts and textiles. Its “mission is to promote the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through education, a premier festival, a museum and fine art markets,” and is definitely worth checking out the next time you’re downtown.

Hours & Admission Info: www.redearth.org/red-earth-museum/visiting-information

Adventure District, arts and culture, free, museums, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Friday Festivals

H&8th Night Market

If it’s Friday, put down those samples at Sam’s Club and get to one of our city’s fabulous Friday events, where admission is always free and there are lots of things to do and see. (If you want to eat and drink, you’re on your own, but hey, those are the breaks.)

  • First Friday Gallery Walk- Located in the Paseo Arts District, First Friday is (you guessed it) held the first Friday (and Saturday) of every month. Fireman-pantsed beard lovers, social gadflies and art lovers alike peruse more than 60 artists in 17 galleries participating in the middle of one of OKC’s first real “districty” districts. They were a district before being a district was cool, so check it out.
  • LIVE on the Plaza - from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. the second Friday of every month, Plaza District merchants stay open late with live music, special events and extra funky PIZZAZ, hence the extra capital letters.
  • Premiere on Film Row happens on the third Friday of every month, from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Art exhibitions, food trucks, film screenings, live music, merriment, and you, urban wanderer.
  • H&8th- On the last Friday of each month (through October) H&8th is the place to be. Beer, food trucks, live music, free activities and people-watching await you. If you’re dead set on spending zero dollars, you won’t even have to wait in any lines for food. Score! Get to the last one of the year on October 30.
  • Fun street fairs aren’t just happening in Oklahoma City limits, as many communities in the region have their own monthly festivals. One of the most successful is 2nd Friday in Norman. The event is free and features everything from dance to painting to photography and music. Check out their website for a full list. If you are on the north side of the metro check out Heard on Hurd every 3rd Saturday from March to October in Edmond.
arts and culture, Film Row, free, live music, Midtown, Paseo District, Plaza District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Invite your out-of-town friends to play in OKC

Bricktown Canal

Whether you’ve just moved here or lived here a long time, you can pitch Oklahoma City as a great destination for visitors to your out-of-town friends, and we at The Better Life Blog are happy to help tell them why.

After all, this year National Geographic named Oklahoma City as a “must-see,” “go-now” destination in its Best Trips 2015 list for good reason.

Here are some ideas for your own adventure:

  • Oklahoma City has a collection of truly world-class and won’t-see-them-anywhere else museums that will keep you busy for days. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is a must-visit for anyone who comes to our community. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Oklahoma City Art Museum should also be at the top of any to-do list. Get a comprehensive list of all the great OKC museums here.
  • Rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board, go zip lining across the Oklahoma River on the SandRidge Sky Zip or climb the six-story SandRidge Sky Trail at the Boathouse District, where next year, you’ll also be able to enjoy outdoor whitewater rafting on a course that’s under construction and scheduled to open in 2016. Find out more from RIVERSPORT Adventures.
  • Go to Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and tour the Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Science Museum Oklahoma, or watch horse racing at Remington Park Racing and Casino.
  • Explore the city’s other districts and local shopping and dining. Get outside at Lake Hefner, Lake Overholser, in the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, or at one of the many city parks, such as Martin Park Nature Center, a 140-acre park that feels like an escape from urban life. The Myriad Botanical Gardens are also a treat, whether you stay in the outside gardens, attend an event there or tour the rainforest atmosphere inside the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory.

There is plenty more in Oklahoma City to see and do. So sell your out-of-town friends on Oklahoma City as a place to visit. You’ll get to see them on a regular basis and make good memories with all that this place has to offer.

If you need additional help with the sell (and we don’t think you will), tell them that this year Travel and Leisure Magazine recently named Oklahoma City as the fifth friendliest city in America.

Start planning your trip online at www.visitokc.com and get more ideas by exploring The Better Life Blog.

parks, shopping, water sports, Adventure District, western heritage, arts and culture, zoo, attractions, family-friendly, food, museums, Myriad Botanical Gardens, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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#SeeOKC online before you venture out

“Oklahoma City offers all of the culture, cuisine, attractions and amenities you’d expect in a modern metropolis,” reads the home page of Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau’s newly redesigned website, www.visitokc.com.

And there is plenty to explore on the website if you are still wondering what to (OK)See in Oklahoma City, to borrow the CVB’s new slogan.

Each month, you can take your own virtual tour with a new “What to OKC” video highlighting that month’s events and attractions. And then you can dive deeper to get area highlights and happenings, as well as local trips for your specific interest – outdoors, sports, history, the arts, nightlife and more.

While we at The Better Life Blog can’t imagine living anywhere else, we realize that Oklahoma City certainly would be fun to visit as well. Come join us and (OK)See.

arts and culture, attractions, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shawnee’s diverse history includes Native Americans and French monks

The City of Shawnee has its own charm and history and it’s big enough (more than 30,000 people in 2013) to have a small regional airport. But there are plenty of reasons to drive west on Interstate 40 to visit Shawnee.

While you’re there, stop at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art and see its Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects; Renaissance art from the early 20th century; and other cultural artifacts. It is home to Oklahoma’s only Egyptian mummy. Founded in 1919, the museum is affiliated with Catholic-affiliated St. Gregory’s University, which developed because of the value that two Benedictine monks placed on education in what was then Indian Territory more than 100 years ago. These monks, Dom Isidore Robot and Frere Dominic Lambert, moved to the area from France in 1875 and immediately started education programs under the Sacred Heart Mission.

Don’t miss a stop by the Cultural Heritage Center of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which has its headquarters in Shawnee. The heritage center even includes an eagle aviary – a home to injured eagles rescued from the wild that cannot be rehabilitated and released. Tours of the aviary are available by appointment, but you can stop by the heritage center’s museum to see cultural and contemporary objects presenting the Native American tribe’s history. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What served as the Santa Fe Train Depot from 1902 and served as a train station until 1973 now serves as the home of the Pottawatomie County Museum and Historical Society. Visitors can learn about the area’s history, including more about the country’s railroad and transportation history. Near the museum is the current home of Shawnee’s first building, a home known as the Beard Cabin, built after the land run in 1891.

And finally, on the Shawnee Board of Directors’ website to promote area tourism, www.visitshawnee.com, are two must-see sites that sound quite intriguing:

  • For the water gardening fans, the Pond Pro Shop has streams, waterfalls, fountains and ponds to help you design, build and maintain your backyard pond.
  • If you have children and want to venture a little further from Shawnee – about 20 miles to the southeast – don’t miss the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole.
arts and culture, day-trip, family-friendly, gardening, museums, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Works of Art

During the annual Red Earth Festival, the talents of a multitude of Native American tribes will be on display during a juried art show and market. Handcrafted beadwork, basketry, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings, graphics and cultural attire are just a small sampling of the art you’ll see. But there is more to Red Earth than just the annual festival. The Red Earth Art Center hosts a respected permanent collection featuring more than 1,400 pieces of Native American artwork. Expect to see fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles, and beadwork. The Center features widely acclaimed traveling exhibitions, as well as such prized permanent exhibits as the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America. The Red Earth Art Center also provides an outlet for Native American artists to sell their works to the public. 

Exhibit C also features works by Chickasaw artisans. The hand-crafted pieces include jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing. There’s always something new to see at Exhibit C, as a new artist is featured every four months. 

A can’t miss exhibit this month is ”Best of the West” at JRB Art at the Elms. The exhibition, which runs through June 27, features works by Joe Andoe, Billy Schenck and Bert Seabourn. Andoe, an Oklahoma native who is part Cherokee, is celebrated across the county. His works are part of permanent collections in a variety of museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Seabourn, an internationally acclaimed expressionist painter and sculptor, has made Oklahoma City his home. Seabourn’s works are held in private and public collections worldwide including The Vatican Museum of Religious Art in Rome; The National Palace Museum in Taiwan; the Smithsonian Museum of National History, Washington, D.C.; and the President Gerald Ford Library. Outside of the “Best of the West” exhibit, Seabourn’s work can be seen locally at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

arts and culture, festivals, museums, native american
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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