Oklahoma City has become a canvas of sorts for local artists, and while you will find murals in nearly every district in the city, there is also art for a diverse range of tastes. From traditional to contemporary, street art to Southwestern art and from experimental to Native American, Oklahoma City has museums, venues, galleries and exhibits for the serious connoisseur or the casual fan.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is the centerpiece of the city’s art scene. In addition to the Dale Chihuly pieces that are on display year round, the museum hosts traveling exhibitions on the first floor. From October 13 to January 6, 2019, the OKCMOA will be home to a collection called “Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement.” Featuring works from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, many pieces in this collection have never been shown outside the UK.
With an emphasis on contemporary and experimental art, Oklahoma Contemporary features some of the state’s most avant garde installations and exhibits. Beginning in February 2019 and continuing into summer, the museum will host the work of one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 artists (2015), Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Oklahoma native and now New York’s Public Artist in Residence, Fazlalizadeh focuses on marginalized individuals and communities in her work.
The American Banjo Museum located in Bricktown is presenting a yearlong tribute to Muppets’ creator Jim Henson, called Jim Henson—Life and Legacy, that runs through September 2019. The installation will feature memorabilia from the beloved Henson, including an original “Kermit” from the show, and a banjo that was used for musical accompaniment on the show.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is one of the most popular destinations in Oklahoma City. From October 6 through January 6, 2019, guests will have access to two outstanding exhibitions, including works for sale from the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association and the Cowboy Artists Association. The latter focuses on fine arts—painting, drawing and sculpture—whereas the TCAA features silversmithing, saddlemaking, bit and spur making, and rawhide braiding. From February 8 through May 12, 2019, the museum will host The Bison Exhibit, an exploration of the iconic animal’s importance to Native peoples, the American West and popular culture. Using art, informational displays, and even coinage, the contributions of this symbol of the West will be highlighted, including the human response that led to the animal’s preservation.
Exhibit C is a gallery and retail space in Bricktown that focuses on the work of Native American artists. A showcase featuring ten artists from five Native tribes whose work explores Mississippian culture will close October 31, 2018. The five tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee [Creek], and Seminole) all share a common story of forced removal from the Southeastern U.S. and resettlement in what is now Oklahoma.
“Post Plymouth” will be at Exhibit C through February 28, 2019. The exhibition of four featured Native artists looks at the Native American response to assimilation, how the tribes have survived, and according to the artists, even thrived. The four featured artists work in a wide variety of media, including paint, fiber, sculpture and performance art.
Factory Obscura is Oklahoma City’s newest immersive art experience. A team of more than sixty artists and volunteers create a multisensory, fully immersive experience with the theme “Abandon all you know!” Participants are led on a “mystical odyssey” through various installations, all of which are meant to engage the brain and the senses. The 2018 Factory Obscura is in the new location at 1522 S. Robinson Ave., and it’s open until December 21. The 2019 version has not been announced yet, but organizers say they will have it ready to go early in the year.
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On the performing arts side, OKC Broadway brings Broadway-caliber productions to the Civic Center Music Hall every season. This upcoming season is especially exciting because the brilliant Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Love Never Dies” will be in town November 13-18. The production is a sequel to Weber’s iconic “Phantom of the Opera,” which will also be in Oklahoma City January 9-20, 2019. Three other productions round out the season: the Emilio and Gloria Estefan story “On Your Feet!” (February 5-10), “A Bronx Tale” (March 5-10), and “Waitress” (March 19-24).
The Oklahoma City Ballet has grown dramatically in the past two years, adding a brand new practice facility and headquarters. The company is composed of native-born Oklahomans as well as a cast of national and international artists. Artistic director Robert Mills includes family-friendly entertainment each season, as well as a modern dance focus for the last performance of the season. The company stages “The Nutcracker” every holiday season (December 14-23 this year), as well as three other shows. The remainder of the season includes “Alice (In Wonderland)” (October 26-28) and “La Sylphide” (February 22-24).
“Alice (in Wonderland)” will bring together dance, theatre and puppetry in a psychedelic, whimsical setting with outlandish costumes and gorgeous sets. In addition to “The Nutcracker,” this performance is everyone’s chance to see the next generation of dancers, as several members of the Yvonne Choteau Ballet School will perform with OKC Ballet company.
This season is the first full season for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s new conductor Alexander Mickelthwate. The beloved Joel Levine retired at the end of last season, and Mickelthwate joined us from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to succeed him as musical director. The OKC Phil performs classics and pops every season, and the third pop performance of the new season promises to be amazing. On January 4-5, 2019, the philharmonic will perform Revolution: The Beatles Symphonic Experience. For children of the ‘60s and ‘70s, it’s a one-two punch, as the company will perform The Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel March 1-2, 2019. Classics this season include Beethoven, Mozart, and Debussy.