Today I attended the 2007 Festival of the Arts in downtown Oklahoma City. The Festival runs through tomorrow and there is a good possibility that I will attend again tomorrow even if the food they serve there is bad for my diet.
There is a complete city block of sculptors, painters, photographers, apparel makers and art decor designers. Then there are the performance artists: singers, guitar players, drummers, dancers, and acrobats. And for the first time in Oklahoma City that I have seen, there was a living statue at the corner of Hudson and Sheridan. When I first came upon it, I thought it was just a new statue of Will Rogers. There was a sign at the bottom that said "donations accepted." A little boy came up and dropped a dollar in the box. Much to the boy's shock and amazement, the "statue" came alive and offered to shake the boy's hand and allowed the boy to have his picture taken with him in his pose. I have to admit, the guy did a great statue.
One new artist of note this year is a painter named Eric Humphries. He was on hand to explain his paintings and what they meant. He was selling his paintings of war atrocities around the world. (Warning: disturbing images and depictions of nudity representing "the ultimate victimization" as Mr. Humphries explained it to me.)
The Arts Festival has four stages with performance artists running simultaneously. There is so much going on that you just can't see it all. Edgar Cruz is always a crowd favorite. His skills as a guitarist are amazing. The belly dancers that I saw were truly entrancing. They were so good, I stopped eating my food while I watched them dance. African drummer Jahruba Lambeth drew quite a crowd with his drums and limbo dance competition. There were other acts that I watched for a short time: and indie-rock band, an acrobat-juggler-comedian who can climb a ladder without supports (and juggling 5 objects while sitting on the top), some Irish dancers and a '60s rock band.
There is more to do at the Festival of the Arts than just look at human-created art. There is also natural art. If you go down there, don't miss the Myriad Botanical Gardens. It's only drawback is that it's not bigger. It would be nice if they built a bigger one in another nice part of the city.
The weather was perfect today (it rained for the first two days, which it seems wont to do every year when the Festival comes to town). It was 80 degrees and there was not a cloud in the sky. Tomorrow is predicted to be the same.
The Festival of the Arts just keeps getting better every year. If you are an Okie, this is one event that you can't afford to miss. Especially since it's free (of course, you may have to pay $5 or so for parking).