4 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The Festival of the Arts was in full bloom after its first day of festivities on Tuesday, with hundreds of Oklahomans pouring out to enjoy one of the first major events of the “post”-pandemic season.

Two stages on either side of the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City played host to a variety of live musicians Tuesday evening. Surrounding the stages were a bevy of tents housing the art of 144 juried artists. 

The Festival of the Arts’ long-awaited week of art promises to be overflowing with the pent-up creativity of artists from around the country. 

Devraat Awashti

The Arts

with Devraat Awasthi

“Kind of emotional”

Holly Foss traveled down to Oklahoma City’s art festival from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her kiosk tent was filled with serigraphs – silkscreen prints – and paintings conveying nostalgia for the bright coloring books of childhood. “It’s kind of emotional,” Foss explained. “Kids really like my stuff, so that was a big thing for me because I really miss that interaction with people.” 

Foss described the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on her family, as well as the day-to-day activities she practiced to pass the time. Most of all, Foss acknowledged that for many it was far worse, expressing gratitude for her good fortune. “My whole life there’s always been challenges. Art has sustained my sense of peaceful mind.”

“It feels great!”

On the other side of the festival, Jennifer Bullard soaked in the sun. “It feels great!” Her art spanned the full breadth of visual possibilities, all tied to amusing references and pop culture. For Bullard, COVID-19 was a time of serendipity. “I was so blessed this year because I have lots of commission pieces, even though there wasn’t a show.” 

Bullard began painting five years ago, demonstrating an appreciation for color and boldness that belies the fact that she “didn’t want to have anything to do with art” when she was young.

Bullard noted that the Festival of the Arts has been her favorite show of the past five years. She’s optimistic about the year to come for artists: “People are so ready to get out, go to shows, spend money, buy art,” and will likely stimulate a boom in the art market.

Budding artists, too

Artists like Foss and Bullard were selected by the Arts Council’s juried panel of artists, two from out of town and one from Oklahoma City, Kaycee Nolting told me. She is the co-chair of the Festival of the Arts. 

Nolting noted the new addition of food trucks to the menu at the Festival of the Arts – “different from tradition.” Nolting also highlighted the Youth Art Sale on Saturday: “A lot of the junior people who are budding artists can come out and actually try out their knack at seeing what they can sell and things they’ve made at home. All the proceeds go to the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, and we fund projects that go on throughout the year.”

Reacting to the sudden growth of Oklahoma City over the past few years, “we’re just so glad to see people back in person,” said Nolting, “we have a great opening day crowd . . . there’s a lot of traffic. . . there’s so much to see it takes multiple laps!” 

The Festival of the Arts played host to one of the largest crowds in Oklahoma over the last year, and with artists arriving from all over the country to share their work, it’s sure to provide a much-needed boost of joy to a city only recently emerging from the shuttered life of a pandemic.

Through Saturday the Festival is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit artscouncilokc.com/festival-of-the-arts.

(Feature photo: Anne Byrd from Houston, Texas)

Last Updated June 23, 2021, 10:46 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor