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.