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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.
family-friendly, gardening, museums, western heritage, arts and culture, day-trip
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.

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

If you’ve read much of our blog you can probably tell the arts are an important aspect of life in OKC. From festivals like Red Earth, whole districts like the Paseo who focus on the arts and world-class museums like the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the arts help tell the story of our city and state and connect each newer generation to the culture of our region.

To learn more about the countless festivals, museums, districts and galleries OKC has to offer, be sure to check out the Arts & Culture section of our Better Life website.

museums, Paseo District, western heritage, arts and culture, festivals
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three days of arts and entertainment

The three-day weekend is a perfect excuse to head over to one of America’s “10 Greatest Neighborhoods” and check out the 35th annual Paseo Arts Festival. Held Saturday, May 28 through Monday, May 30, this festival features more than 80 artists representing all types of art and all mediums. 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.

festivals, free, Paseo District, arts and culture, family-friendly
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Festival of the Arts

This week marks one of our absolute favorite weeks in Oklahoma City. We love hearing and seeing the talents of our fellow Oklahomans and there is no better locale for that than the annual Festival of the Arts.

The six-day event is an annual rite of passage to welcome spring in Oklahoma City. The festival, now in its 48th year, literally transforms downtown OKC into a bazaar-like atmosphere complete with colorful tents and thousands of attendees. The festival had humble beginnings in 1967, when Arts Council committee members personally sought out artists to exhibit and even made sandwiches and hot dogs for attendees. But today, the Festival of the Arts is one of the largest and most successful in the country.

Here are some things to remember when you visit the Festival of the Arts:

  • The art is world-class. More than 500 artists submitted work for the Festival jury process. The 141 chosen artists are some of the nation’s finest. Artworks include oil paintings, watercolors,   photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture, fiber, jewelry, wood, and more!
  • There’s plenty of entertainment. Nearly 300 entertainers will take the stage during the festival. From the big band sounds of the 145th Army Bank to the bluegrass sounds of Southbound Mule and choral groups such as the Sweet Adelines to Irish step dancers, Mexican folk dancers and ballet artists, the talent of Oklahomans is hard to dispute. 
  • Family fun is important too. There’s plenty to keep the youngsters entertained at the festival. Kids can create their own works of art at the Children’s Art Field. Other family-friendly activities include face painting and a creation station. The tikes are also sure to enjoy the Young-at-Art Mart, a children-only shopping site where all artwork is $5 or less. 
  • Bring your appetite! From appetizers to desserts, the festival is also a celebration of the culinary arts. Dozens of vendors bring their delicacies to the festival and each one is partnered with a local arts organization, so each bite you take supports the arts in central Oklahoma. Go ahead and expand your palate with daily culinary arts demonstrations from restaurants such as Sushi Neko , VAST, Rococo, Paseo Grill and many more. 
festivals, food, kids, arts and culture, family-friendly
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Behold the beauty

From the moment you step into the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, it’s hard not to be in awe of its grandeur. A 55-foot Chihuly tower in the Museum’s atrium serves to welcome visitors, but that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to what OKCMOA has to offer.

In addition to boasting one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Chihuly glass, OKCMOA also offers a varied and spectacular selection of permanent and rotating exhibits.

We can’t wait to test our skills of deduction at the Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World exhibit. More than 60 works by some of the world’s most notorious con artists will be displayed alongside actual works of art. Bring your best sleuthing skills. We bet you’ll need them.

Where can you see images of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Nicklaus, figure-skating Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, boxing icon Muhammad Ali and O. J. Simpson all portrayed in classic Andy Warhol style? Where else, but OKCMOA, of course. The striking works found in Warhol: The Athletes offer an interesting perspective on athletes and something you certainly don’t want to miss. 

Grab some friends and head out to Art After 5. The weekly event, held each Thursday, offers a fun way to unwind from a busy day, socialize and enjoy great works of art all while enjoying a spectacular view of downtown.

nightlife, arts and culture, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Expand your horizons

The art scene is not limited to downtown OKC, as galleries showcasing the talents of Oklahomans 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 “Alex Leme: Small Town: Portraits of a Disappearing America” for an interesting interpretation of small-town America at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. The Orly Genger: Terra exhibit also offers a spectacular site.

Another of our favorite galleries, JRB Art at the Elms, is currently featuring the unique and mesmerizing photographs of Siegfried Halus and clay sculptures by Paul Media as part of a rotating exhibit. The gallery also features works by more than 100 Oklahoma artists.

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 pick up some Bedré Fine Chocolate – we could argue that it’s some of the best you’ll ever have. 

Dozens of artists will be gathering at Howell Gallery of Fine Art for “Painting in the Courtyard” on May 2. This is a great way to see the talents and techniques of some of the city’s finest artists first-hand.

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
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Run, Settler, Run

Although we weren’t there, it is a pretty safe assumption that the first minutes of the Oklahoma Land Run were complete chaos with canons firing, hoofbeats pounding and eager pioneers as far as the eye can see. While we can’t go back in time to experience it, we can see the frenzied spirit of the day captured by the Centennial Land Run Monument at the south end of Bricktown Canal.

When complete, this monument will feature 45 larger than life sized figures of land run participants, including a soldier and a canon, 24 horses and riders, covered wagons – all giving the viewer an idea of what that day might have looked like. The artist Paul Moore will have created one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world, spanning 365 feet in length, when the installments are complete later this year. This monument is a city park and is open to the public 24 hours a day year round, but it is best viewed during daylight hours.  

downtown, Oklahoma City history, arts and culture, Bricktown
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

World Creativity Forum Returns to OKC

There is a good creative way of writing this blog post, but we are just not sure what that is. Perhaps it’s writing a poem or haiku? No, bad verse just makes it worse. Writing in the circular stream-of-consciousness style of Gertrude Stein? Our militant AP style editors would never let that go. Throwing a bunch of letters down on paper like we’re channeling some sort of literary Jackson Pollock? Maybe, but you wouldn’t be able to actually read it then. We could make you have to decode it Enigma-style, but that’d just be extra work on your part. Hmm…

Anyway, the Creativity World Forum returns to OKC on March 31, bringing together business and community leaders, innovators, students, educators, experts on innovation and more. Our friends over at Creative Oklahoma have helped put together a fantastic program and look forward to showing off the only North American region currently represented in the International Districts of Creativity Network. Speakers include esteemed names like Sir Ken Robinson, Michael Strautmanis of the Walt Disney Co., and Stephan Turnipseed of LEGO Education, among others. If you were around the last time OKC hosted this forum, you know you’ll be in for an enthralling, inspirational experience. Learn more at http://stateofcreativity.com/forum/!

ABOUT THE EVENT
Tuesday, March 31, 2015  
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
ENGAGE – UNITE – GET INSPIRED
Share your ideas, improve them, gain global perspectives and innovate.
Start new projects. Make new business connections. Take the next step with what you have learned.
Discuss what matters the most in 2015 including topics like health, environmental and social issues in a global vision.
Get registered

arts and culture
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Works of Art

While we love our retail therapy (who doesn’t, right?) we also appreciate the finer things in life – like great art, live music and fantastic food. That’s why we love Live on the Plaza and First Friday in the Paseo District.

Live on the Plaza, the district’s monthly block party is held rain or shine on the second Friday of each month and showcases the talents of wonderful Oklahomans. The artists and outdoor market changes for each event and complements the districts’ premiere art galleries, photography studios, retail shops and restaurants. From Tango workshops and fashion shows to poetry readings and works from local artists, there’s sure to be something that piques your interest. While you’re exploring the Plaza District, don’t forget to take in a Broadway-caliber show in the heart of downtown OKC at the Lyric Theatre.

Paseo, Oklahoma City’s historic arts district, also holds a monthly art walk and music festival. Expect to see paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fine crafts and photographs by more than 60 artists in 20 galleries and experience opening receptions for new exhibits each month. Bring your appetite and try the Green Lantern from Sauced on Paseo or the Chicken Saltimbocca from Paseo Grill.

Paseo District, Plaza District, restaurants, retail, shopping, theater, arts and culture, festivals
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Get artsy 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. This week, let’s explore some of them, starting with The Paseo Arts District and its history that dates back to the 1920s.

This thriving district, located mostly between Walker and Lee avenues and NW 30th and 28th streets, 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, according to The Paseo District’s website.

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’s 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, Paseo District
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Home and Heart Community Art Show

Want to experience some pretty cool art while making a difference in our community? On Friday, nearly 40 artists who are experiencing homelessness will display their work in an art show in OKC titled the “Home and Heart Community Art Show.” The show will take place at the Homeless Alliance from noon to 8 p.m. The featured artists participate in “fresh stART,” a program designed to provide people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City with a supportive environment for creating art.

In addition to providing a potential source of income, open studio art programs enable people experiencing homelessness to express themselves creatively, manage emotional issues, develop social skills through positive interaction with a peer group, and develop a greater sense of dignity and skills transferable to employment. Find out more about the Homeless Alliance.

nonprofit, arts and culture, community
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014

It is time to say goodbye to 2014 and what a year it has been for OKC. Oklahoma City celebrated its 125th birthday, the Thunder had another great season, pro soccer came to OKC, GE announced a huge project in our town and much, much more.   

This time of the year is filled with “Best of Lists.” Best of music, best of movies, best of television … you get the idea. So why not us? So here are our favorite posts of the past year. Below is a good example of what this blog is all about so you can easily share with your friends and show them why this blog is such a good and entertaining resource. Consider it a “Here-are-five-important-things-a-newbie-to-OKC-needs-to-know” list:

  • Trails Without Tribulations- Oklahoma City has an extensive and impressive trail system for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • A Work of Art- From our world-class art museum to many festivals, art is an important part of life in OKC.
  • Live on the Music- OKC is melting pot of music. Everyone from the Flaming Lips to Garth Brooks and jazz pioneer Charlie Christian have called OKC home. Live music can be found all over the metro on any given night.
  • Par for the Course- With more than 3,000 hours of sunlight each year and more than 33 courses in metro OKC alone, golf is a hidden recreational gem in the Sooner State.
  • Show Off Oklahoma City to Visitors- Oklahoma City is home to some amazing attractions and museums.

Always remember our blog is a resource for you. Never hesitate to hit us up on Facebook or Twitter with questions or ideas. All our posts are also tagged by topic so you can easily find past blogs for information, everything from attractions to downtown and much more.

So with that we bid 2014 a fond farewell. Stay tuned because we have a sneaky suspicion that 2015 will be even better.

golf, museums, music, outdoor recreation, arts and culture, attractions
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Make Your Breaks

Ahh, Christmastime. Snow, lights, Santa, candy canes, carols, and fudge. Mmm, fudge... Sorry. We just really like fudge. Anyway, for you parents out there, all this merriment can mean maybe just a little too much time with your little snow angels now that they’re out of school for a while. But before you go taking numerous nips from the nog in an attempt to deal, check out some of the winter break options to keep those kiddos from being cooped up in the house too much over the holidays.

  • Thunder Youth Basketball Camp – fundamentals and fun for all skill levels. December 29 & 30, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., ages 5-16. An alternative to playing ball in the house!
  • Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center – camps include instruction in different mediums / skills depending on age (5-8 or 9-12). December 18-19 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Let ‘em create art here instead of their bedroom walls.
  • OKC Zoo Safari Day Camps – ages 4-12 can hit the zoo December 30, 31 and January 19. Kids will connect with animals and nature instead of your last nerve. Advance registration and payment required.
  • Holiday Magic Drama Camp at NW Optimist Park – campers sing, dance and learn some classic holiday numbers culminating in a family performance. December 22-23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 405-297-1437 for more info ($50 per camper). Now they can be dramatic about something other than that present they won’t shut up about.
  • Soccer City Winter Break Camp – let your kids get their kicks by taking out their frustrations on a soccer ball instead of the furniture and/or their siblings. Ages 4-15 are welcome and will be divided among age, ability and flopping potential (kidding!). December 22-24 and 29-31.
  • Santa’s Adventures at RIVERSPORT – not really a camp per se, but the Rudolph Launch, Candy Cane Rock Wall, Snow Bounce and more are open for riverside fun from 1 – 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through January 4th. Note that this includes the SandRidge Santa Zip, where you drop a wrapped package into a chimney target as you fly down the zip line. Picture that for a second, and just try to tell us it doesn’t sound AWESOME.

What camps are we missing in our list? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get it added!

camps, kids, Oklahoma River, soccer, theater, zoo, arts and culture, basketball
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Visit Norman

Speaking of colleges, the home of the University of Oklahoma is less than 30 minutes south and makes for a quick escape to a leafy collegiate locale. You can even take the train there from downtown OKC if you want. Whether it’s nightlife you’re after, family fun, learning about weather at the National Weather Center or even hanging out with real-life gamblers, Norman knows when to hold ‘em and fold ‘em, and, as a bonus, never counts its money at the table. The other thing that Norman knows when to hold is its Main Street Christmas Parade, hitting the streets this year on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Also, don’t miss:

  • Dino-mite Museums – Norman has some of the coolest museums in the state, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is a family favorite. Taking you through 4 billion years of history, the museum features the world’s largest Apatosauraus and Pentaceratops, among other dinosaurs. Learn about the people that lived in Oklahoma before us and other world cultures, and get your photo taken with the big mammoth.
  • One of the nation’s finest university art museums, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art features works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Hopper, Gauguin, Ansel Adams, O’Keefe, Houser, and others, in addition to works and objects by Taos artists and Native American works. Current exhibits include Picasso’s Woman in the Studio (1956), on loan from the St. Louis Art Museum, displayed alongside some of the Fred’s own Picassos from its permanent collection. The best part? Taking in all this culture is easy on the pocketbook: admission is always free!
  • The Norman Music Festival, also free, happens every April in and around downtown Norman on Main Street. 21 stages offered more than 60,000 people music and merriment over three days in 2014. Featuring headliners like The Walkmen, Portugal. The Man, of Montreal, The Octopus Project, British Sea Power and more, it is also a great time to see all your favorite local bands in one spot and purchase all manner of foods and goods from local and national vendors.
  • For the oenophiles out there, Norman boasts three wineries you can tour and taste: Canadian River Winery, Native Spirits Winery, and Redbud Ridge Vineyard & Winery. All offer wines made from their own Oklahoma-grown grapes. Like Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” Wine: it’s good for you.

For more info about visiting Norman, simply visit the appropriately-named www.visitnorman.com.

family-friendly, live music, museums, music, nightlife, wine, arts and culture, college
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A work of art

Art lovers rejoice! The 36th annual Arts Festival Oklahoma will take place Aug. 30 - Sept. 1 at Oklahoma City Community College. One of the top juried fine art and craft shows in the Southwest, AFO features works by hundreds of artists from 11 states who will be on-site to answer any questions you may have. With everything from hand-crafted jewelry to ceramics, photography, paintings, sculptures and more, there is sure to be something that piques your interest.

While you’re here, take in the sights and sounds as Oklahomans showcase their dance and musical talents throughout the festival. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra will even hold a free public performance as part of the event. And no festival would be complete with scrumptious fare including funnel cakes, foot-long corn dogs, Mexican, Greek, German and other ethnic specialties.

Art lovers can kick off the weekend each Thursday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Art After 5. Enjoy a beautiful ambiance and spectacular view of the Oklahoma City skyline from the Museum’s roof terrace. Live music is provided each week. The price of admission includes all museum exhibits, so be sure to check out Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris featuring 140 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The museum also features its permanent collection of Chihuly glass in Illuminations: Rediscovering the Art of Dale Chihuly. The exhibit contains more than 80 pieces of unique artwork, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world.

No matter what your interests are, Oklahoma City offers something for everyone. Get out and explore each of the city’s districts; we promise you won’t be disappointed.

arts and culture, food, live music, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Show off Oklahoma City to visitors

There’s plenty to do in Oklahoma City if you have friends and family visiting here from elsewhere. This week, The Better Life Blog is here for you so you can plan to show off the city and everything it has to offer. So come along and use their visit as an opportunity for you to explore the city yourself.

Want museums? Start with Oklahoma history at the Oklahoma History Center or the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum. One of the city’s other premier museums includes the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the place to learn about American West history and culture and see some of the top fine art of that genre. For art, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is worth a stop, especially to see the impressive the Dale Chihuly glass art collection. The Science Museum Oklahoma has a lot of hands-on displays and activities for children.

But a fun tour of OKC might include some of Oklahoma’s more special-interest museums: Amateur Softball Association National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum; the 45th Infantry Division Museum; the 99s Museum of Women Pilots, the Museum of Osteology, which has more than 300 skeletons on display and other bones; the American Banjo Museum, the Oklahoma Railway Museum and more.

If you and your guests are still going strong, take them to the Oklahoma City Zoo. It is one of the oldest in the southwest, is spread over more than 119 acres and home to about 1,900 of the world’s most exotic animals, including 54 threatened or endangered species. It also features more than 500 species of animals, 117 species of birds, 153 species of reptiles and amphibians and 155 species of fish, aquatic invertebrates and marine mammals. And you wouldn’t want to miss the Lion Overlook or the Great EscApe.

For shopping, you can head over to one of OKC’s many shopping malls, like  The Outlet Shoppes, Quail Springs Mall, Penn Square Mall or Plaza Mayor at The Crossroads or any of Oklahoma City’s boutique shops.

And if the tips here aren’t to your liking, head over to Oklahoma City’s Convention and Visitors Bureau website, where you can find attractions and suggested itineraries. There’s a downtown walking tour, a Western heritage tour, a list of things to do with children and a must-see Oklahoma City tour.

Adventure District, arts and culture, attractions, family-friendly, kids, museums, shopping, western heritage, zoo
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Go West, young (wo)man!

While you’re in Oklahoma City, don’t miss the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The museum bills itself as “America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture.” You’ll realize the description is an accurate one as you wander through its multiple art and sculpture galleries, stand in front of the poignant 17-foot-tall “End of the Trail” sculpture by James Earle Fraser or explore a replica of a Western town for children, called Prosperity Junction, and the Children’s Cowboy Corral. You’ll learn about cowboy culture and gear, Native American history, Western performers, settling the frontier and more.

The museum has plans for its future, such as a seven-acre outdoor addition, but here’s a bit about its past.

It was founded as the National Cowboy and Hall of Fame and Museum in Oklahoma City in 1955, seven years after its founder Chester Arthur Reynolds envisioned a hall of fame that would honor cowboys, cattlemen and ranchers.

Governors from 17 western states, prominent cattlemen and leaders in rodeo were invited to serve on the museum’s board, and a 37-acre site at what is known as Persimmon Hill was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1955. And in 1960, the museum became the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. (It took on its current name, dropping the Hall of Fame part, in 2000.)

Although fundraising efforts stalled along the way, it finally opened in 1965. It fell into disarray in the 1980s but a $35 million capital campaign revived it. In 1993, President George Bush formally dedicated the site that had expanded to more than 230,000 square feet.

Since then it’s been host to numerous community events, collections and Museum events such as the annual Western Heritage Awards, honoring significant contributions to literature, music, film and television.

Adventure District, arts and culture, history, museums, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Red Earth Festival Returns

The 28th annual Red Earth Festival, celebrating Native American arts and culture, kicks off this week. This year, the festival will be held at Remington Park on Thursday through Saturday (June 5-7), with the traditional parade at 9 a.m. on Friday downtown. A full schedule of events including live music, dance competitions, an arts market, native food and more can be found at http://www.redearth.org/red-earth-festival/. Experience one of our state’s most unique and culturally vibrant events!

arts and culture, family-friendly, festivals, native american, western heritage
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let’s travel!

As a reader of The Better Life blog, you should be getting the most of Oklahoma City. But this week, we’re taking you on a tour of places and interesting things to see and do outside OKC.

There are short road trips and some that are a little farther away. These trips can match all kinds of hobbies – whether you’re into the outdoors, shopping, scenery or unique Oklahoma history.

Today, don’t miss some things to do around Edmond, so close to Oklahoma City to the north that when you reach one city limit, you’re already in the other one.

We’ll start in a community called Arcadia to the north and east of Edmond and work our way south. To use a popular cliché, you can truly get your kicks on Route 66 here, starting with POPS, 660 W Highway 66, a restaurant and gas station celebrating the original interstate highway – U.S. Route 66 – and all its history as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road.” You can’t miss POPS because of the 66-foot-tall soda bottle and straw that at night lights up in a dazzling show of different colors. POPS is part future, with a bold architectural design, and part past.

Just down the road from POPS is another can’t-miss landmark, the Arcadia Round Barn, which is literally a round red barn that was built in 1898 and restored in 1992. It was used as a barn for livestock and hay storage and for dances around the turn-of-the-century, and today the 45-foot-tall barn again hosts community events.

Also in far north Edmond is another architectural marvel, the Armstrong Auditorium, 14400 S Bryant Road, #B (285-1010).  It is a luxury venue that hosts premier concerts and performing arts, ranging from the Russian National Ballet to classical, jazz or even bluegrass music, depending on the season. The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation 2014-15 season begins on Sept. 15 with Broadway stars Kelli O’Hara, an Oklahoma native, and Ted Sperling performing “Broadway’s Classic Hits.”

If you’re still in the mood for music, enjoy some soul music at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Jazz Lab. Call  405.359.7989 to buy tickets. Each week, the Jazz Lab features live entertainment, and visitors can order food and drinks from Hideaway Pizza next door. During the week, across the street, you can learn about Edmond’s history at the Edmond Historical Society and Museum.

Want to spend time outdoors? Edmond offers ways to do that, too, especially with several parks.

You can go to Arcadia Lake, which offers trails for bicycling, motorcycles and hiking/running, boat rentals and horseback riding, among other things. Edmond has a range of other parks, as well, but two big ones with lots of trails are Mitch Park and Hafer Park.  Or you can check out two water parks: The Edmond Y Water Park and Pelican Bay Aquatic Center.

[Image courtesy of The Arcadia Round Barn]

water sports, Arcadia, arts and culture, Edmond, family-friendly, museums, music, outdoor recreation, parks, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action

Automobile Alley is not the only historic district in OKC that has reinvented itself. Film Row, located on Sheridan in Downtown, was once a bustling hub for film and television action in the region. Today the district is home to several local restaurants, art galleries and even a movie theater. 

On the third Friday of each month you don’t want miss Premiere on Film Row. The street fair features movie screenings, live music, art exhibits and some of the best food trucks in OKC. Be sure to follow @PremiereOKC on Twitter to keep up with the latest on Premiere OKC. 

movies, music, arts and culture, festivals, film, Film Row, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Norman Gets in on the Fun

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.

2nd Friday is a monthly, citywide celebration of the Arts in Norman (located just 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City). The event is free and features everything from dance to painting, photography and music. The number of participating organizations is too staggering to list so check out their website for a full list.

[Image courtesy of 2nd Friday in Norman]

arts and culture, festivals, Norman
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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We Aren’t Done Yet

I know what you are thinking, “You’ve got my Friday nights booked for the foreseeable future. Surely there can’t be more?” Well, buckle up, because we haven’t even mentioned First Friday and H&8th, two of OKC’s biggest and most successful Friday night events.

  • 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. It is an art lover’s dream as more than 60 artists in 17 galleries participate (and it’s all within walking distance).
  • H&8th- On the last Friday of each month (through September) H&8th is the place to be. H&8th can be summed up pretty easily: food trucks and live music (and lots of them). More than 30 food trucks located within one block is pretty tough to beat.
Paseo District, arts and culture, festivals, food, Midtown, music
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Paseo’s Past

Oklahoma City recently celebrated its 125th birthday and to commemorate we are taking a look at the events and history that made our great city what it is today. This week we are taking a closer look at the Paseo Arts District.

The Paseo 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 and Walker) 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. In 2010, the neighborhood was named as one of the “10 Greater Neighborhoods for 2010” in the entire United States. Every May, the Paseo also hosts the Paseo Arts Festival (this year marks the 37th annual) which brings more than 60,000 people to district.

arts and culture, festivals, Oklahoma City history, Paseo District, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stake Your Claim

We know, you are probably all jazzed up about this Land Run talk and you want to stake your own claim on part of Oklahoma City. You may not get 160 acres, but you can make a Land Run to a nice picnic spot for some OKC birthday celebrations of your own. Read on for some ideas for your own Land Run reenactment.

  • Myriad Botanical Gardens – Grab your friends and fam and head to this 17-acre paradise for the perfect picnic spot. And with Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts kicking off today, you will be in prime position to enjoy outdoor performances on the Great Lawn.
  • Boathouse District – While we know the Oklahoma River as the place to experience Olympic-level paddle sports, the Oklahoma River was originally one of the boundaries of the Land Run in 1889. Pay tribute to the adventurous spirit of both roles by checking out the Boathouse District’s Sky Trails or by renting a kayak and getting on the river.
Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City history, Oklahoma River, arts and culture, family-friendly, festivals, food, history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Arts Festival Insider

You’ll hear everywhere about the Festival of the Arts, but you may not get insider tips to enjoy the event like a true local.

This huge, fun community event always takes place the last full week of April. Besides two blocks of tents filled by some of the finest artists from around the country, the Arts Council of Oklahoma City brings together varied local restaurants with food booths and a huge variety of local music.

First of all, pick your days and times with care. You can join the big crowds enjoying the gorgeous spring evenings, but mornings at the Festival have just as much music, art and food with lots more space to walk. If it happens to be wet or cold, that doesn’t mean you should stay home. Go then and you’ll find the friendliest vendors ever.

Next: parking. Skip the pay lots and come from a few blocks south where many empty lots and quiet buildings sit. Don’t be intimidated by how vacant it is – just get a glimpse of where the future public downtown park and convention center will be (you’ll need your imagination).

If you’re with kids, check out the children’s activities located in the Myriad Gardens (amazing itself). If you would prefer not to have to watch your step for fear of tripping over little ones, steer clear of the joyful chaos by staying on the north or west end of the Festival.

Faves: Take a little time to see artists in action, actually creating the work at the Artful Experiences area. This is also an ideal picnicking area with tables, grass and trees.

Another idea to get the real insider view: volunteer. Look around while at the Festival and you’ll see teams of grinning volunteers everywhere. This event is run by thousands of volunteers pitching in and they’re so enthusiastic it’s like summer camp for adults. Let the Arts Council OKC know you want to help, and you could quickly be meeting interesting folks while guiding bands to the stage, helping the festival go green or driving golf carts to deliver ice to the drink vendors.

festivals, food, kids, music, Myriad Botanical Gardens, volunteer, arts and culture, downtown, family-friendly
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Be an Artist

You too can get clay under your fingernails or paint a masterpiece. Tons of great studio art classes and workshops are available every week. Here’s a few of our favorite spots in Oklahoma City to learn to make art:

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center:
Check out the classes and workshops for all ages, known for amazing ceramics studio, excellent fiber program and respected kid camps. Don’t miss their wine and wheel classes for a fun night of sipping and creating.
3000 General Pershing Blvd, 405-951-0000.
www.oklahomacontemporary.org

Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain:
OK, it’s not in OKC, but the Fall Arts Institute offers amazing advanced courses for educators and artists in a gorgeous Oklahoma location. This program is truly unmatched in our region.
405-605-7500
www.oaiquartz.org

Oklahoma City Museum of Art:
The Museum School offers studio classes from one-time to series for students from toddlers to seniors.
415 Couch Dr., 405-236-3100
www.okcmoa.com

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition:
Want to get serious about being an artist? The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) helps artists realize their potential through education, funding and exposure. Go to one of OVAC’s Business of Art workshops, exhibitions or at least sign up for the mailing list.
730 W. Wilshire Blvd., Suite 104, 405-879-2400
www.ovac-ok.org

Blue Sage Studios:
Glass blowing classes (yes, literally making hot glass!).
1218-C N Western, 405-601-2583
www.bluesagestudios.com

A Jeweler's Art:
Learn to make your own jewelry in a super friendly atmosphere.
2924 Paseo Drive, 405-557-1866
www.ajewelersart.com

[Photos provided by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art]

arts and culture, education, family-friendly
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Fresh Expressions

Want to see the freshest artists in OKC? Check out spaces that show emerging and young artists where you can expect surprises in the ideas, materials and viewing experience.

These places are thrilled about welcoming new visitors, even if the lighting may be low or entrance a bit hidden.

This month DNA Gallerieshighlights original artists, many of them emerging in Oklahoma. Don’t miss that they carry artist-made jewelry, T-shirts (unofficial Thunder basketball attire= most popular) and furniture, too.

Nearby, the never-complacent Istvan Gallery highlights new voices in a converted warehouse. (Bonus: the gallery adjoins a glass blowing studio too, giving you the change to watch them heat up and design glass in person!).

The Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center highlights emerging and legendary African-American artists, showing work often underrepresented in other venues.

Always trying to incite a reaction, a.k.a. Gallery chooses artists highlighting themes you may not see elsewhere. From the macabre to religious satire, a.k.a. hopes you’ll discuss the art and keep thinking about it.

At JRB Art at the Elms, legendary Oklahoma artists show alongside artists pushing new expressions. Artists Adrienne Wright and Lisa McIlroy created a whole room to look like gardens made out of paper. The gallery is located in a beautiful historic building to boot.

[Photos provided by DNA Galleries]

arts and culture
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Art of the Built Environment

Oklahoma City has plenty to offer for architecture buffs, in both historic and modern styles.  On April 12, enjoy the AIA of Central Oklahoma’s annual Architecture Tour, highlighting recent accomplishments in local architecture. www.aiacoc.org/tour

Here are several other destinations worth visiting anytime:

For a more comprehensive list, order the AIA of Central Oklahoma’s “Celebrate 100: An Architectural Guide to Central Oklahoma” for just $10.

arts and culture
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Spotlight Once in 100 Years: Allan Houser

Maybe you got curious when you looked at every license plate in the state and you saw art – a sculpture by Allan Houser to be specific.

Celebrating Houser’s 100th birthday, museums, the Capitol and even the airport are showing his work this year. For a short time, you can visit exhibitions at fine museums, wander around sculptures outside and even enjoy all-ages family programming.

Houser, whose work has been shown around the world, is one of the most well-known Native American artists and native Oklahomans. He created so intensely, by the time he died in 1994, he had made more than 500 paintings, 2,000 drawings and 233 sketchbooks containing more than 30,000 sketches. He also created more than 1,000 sculptures in stone, wood and bronze.

Many of the exhibitions offer free admission or are part of bigger museums that are worth visiting anyway.

See www.okhouser.org for all the shows and schedule.

Oklahoma, arts and culture, history, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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