Arts and Culture in OKC
Oklahoma City’s art scene runs year round, so depending on your preference, there are options in visual and performing arts every day. Most of the city’s arts options are located in or near downtown, making it very easy to access more than one choice.
Oklahoma City Ballet’s season runs from October through April. The company boasts an international group of dancers, many trained in some of the best schools in the world. Artistic Director Robert Mills has a repertory that includes classical works like Giselle, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet, as well as more contemporary masters like George Ballanchine and Twyla Tharp. For visitors from larger cities, the ticket prices will be a very pleasant surprise.
The Oklahoma City Philharmonic offers shows year round, and the season is a combination of classics, pops and discovery family series. Conductor Joel Levine oversees an outstanding collection of musicians, and world-renowned musicians and vocalists are featured every season. Concerts are at the Civic Center Music Hall downtown, and the area has plenty of parking and easy access to some of the city’s best restaurants.
Also in the downtown area is the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Visitors are greeted by a massive Dale Chihuly glass sculpture as they walk into the foyer, a not-so-subtle promise of what the third floor holds. The first floor is always occupied by a traveling, rotating exhibit that features classic and contemporary artists in a wide range of media. The second floor holds several rooms where selections from the OKCMOA’s permanent collection are displayed—everything from mixed media, to painting, to sculpture. The third floor of the museum is home to a collection of Dale Chihuly glass exhibits. Ranging from the whimsical to the serious, Chihuly’s work is always remarkable, and the OKCMOA has done a wonderful job of staging the separate assemblages as a voyage of discovery.
Less than a mile from the OKCMOA is the official gallery of the Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO), an organization that supports and features local artists from all over the state. The gallery is located in the Film Row district, close to plenty of food and entertainment. Exhibits rotate regularly, and the work on display comes from every conceivable genre, including film. A venue in the rear of the building regularly features poetry and music as well.
At the corner of NW 11th Street and Broadway Avenue, Oklahoma Contemporary will soon have its permanent home, a $26 million arts campus. For now, the Showroom at Oklahoma Contemporary houses exhibitions, serves as an arts venue and curates the art library. Oklahoma Contemporary partners with Marfa Contemporary in Marfa, Texas, and the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, to feature some of the best regional and national artists.
Exhibit C is one of downtown’s newest art galleries featuring handcrafted artwork by Chickasaw artists. Located in Bricktown, the gallery is a perfect combination of arts, Native American culture and hospitality, showcasing a new artist every few months. You can also buy authentic artisan works such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing in its bright retail space.
Anyone serious about the visual arts has to head over to The Paseo, Oklahoma City’s historic arts district. The area is home to more than 22 galleries that feature the work of approximately 80 artists. The first Friday of every month, all the galleries are open from 6 to 10 p.m. for the monthly Art Walk. The district has grown rapidly over the past several years, and that trend seems to be continuing. New restaurants are going in, and more shopping options are popping up, making The Paseo a destination in its own right.
Oklahoma City has several excellent theatre companies offering Broadway-style shows, as well as classic and contemporary plays and musicals. CityRep Theatre partners with Oklahoma City University and national and regional artists to offer a full slate of outstanding live performances. Many of the OCU students are well on their way to being the next Kristin Chenoweth or Megan Mullally, both OCU alumnae, meaning CityRep features some of the best young talent in the country.
Lyric Theatre has performances in its home theater in the Plaza District, as well as a full season of bigger shows at Civic Center Music Hall. Lyric has established itself as a staging ground for shows that are being groomed for Broadway, and so its seasons often feature regional or national premieres.