Historically, much of Oklahoma City’s art identity has been located in The Paseo Arts District, a small neighborhood just north of downtown with nearly two dozen working artists and studios, all of which are open the first Friday of every month—even winter months. Since the redevelopment of the urban core, though, visual arts are springing up all around downtown, both in the Arts District and in surrounding districts.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Dale Chihuly glass installation is a permanent fixture on the third floor, and rotating exhibits are held throughout the year on the first floor. This year, two major shows are planned for the OKCMOA: Ansel Adams and Photographers of the West from February 1 through May 26, and; Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, a collection of works from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which runs from June 22 through September 22.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is home to a gorgeous collection of Western and Southwestern art, and the museum regularly has rotating installations. The work of 20th century American Indian masters is on display until May 12, including the Kiowa Six and Harrison Begay. Iconic Western illustrator Tom Lovell’s art is featured in “Horseplay,” a collection of sketches and prep work that include small- and large-scale studies of this symbol of the West, on display until July 14.
Oklahoma Contemporary offers what is likely the broadest array of art forms in the city. This year, Oklahoma City native and Brooklyn resident Tatyana Fazlalizadeh will present “Oklahoma is Black” through May 19. The artist went back to her childhood neighborhoods on OKC’s northeast side and interviewed the people who live there and for whom race, gender and orientation present daily challenge. Presented as video interviews, paintings and wheat paste portraits and statements, the exhibit is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Clara Luper’s sit-in at Katz Drug Store.
Factory Obscura is Oklahoma City’s new immersive art experience, modeled on Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf. In fact, Meow Wolf is one of the partners in helping Factory Obscura develop their first permanent installation “Mix-Tape.” Located in The Womb, the art venue developed by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, Mix-Tape will be an homage to the mix-tapes of the 1980s with “immersive artistic representations of songs” from artists who are part of the Factory Obscura collective. Phase one opens March 21, and the full installation debuts September 21.
Every year, Oklahoma City is home to two large-scale art festivals: Festival of the Arts (April 23-28), which is held downtown in Bicentennial Park, and the Paseo Arts Festival, which is held in the historic Paseo Arts District every Memorial Day weekend. Both feature visual and performing arts, food, music, and the chance to meet with and interact with artists from all over the world.
Exhibit C is a gallery and retail space in Bricktown owned by the Chickasaw Nation that focuses on Native American art. The work of approximately three-dozen Native artists is regularly on display and for sale at Exhibit C. In addition to paintings and sculpture, artisan works in jewelry, pottery and fabrics are also available.
For performing arts, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park is a local favorite. The company is now more than 30 years old, and this season will feature “The Comedy of Errors” and “The Book of Will,” the latter of which won the 2018 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award for New Play. Many of the shows are performed on the beautiful water stage at Myriad Gardens, and the season runs June through September.
Lyric Theatre is another Oklahoma City institution, and this season’s schedule includes “Bright Star” (April 3-20), “Singin’ in the Rain” (June 25-30), “Newsies” (July 9-14), and “Frost/Nixon” (September 4-22). Some of the shows are at the Lyric facility in Plaza District, and large-scale performances are at the Civic Center.