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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Galleries threw open their doors this weekend as the growing number of artsy Oklahoma City residents descended on the historic Paseo Arts District. 

The familiar heat of Oklahoma’s summers was in attendance at Paseo’s First Friday of June event, beating down on what must have been one of the largest in-person events in Oklahoma City for months. From clothes to pottery to paintings to poetry, the neighborhood overflowed with the new and exciting.

Some familiar faces lined up outside, including Country Girl Kitchen with freshly baked goods and Poetic City with a talented lineup of poets. 

Creativity and color

Inside, the Paseo Arts and Creativity Center hosted paintings by George Oswalt, John Wolfe, Marylee Wright, and Jann Jeffrey. 

Jeffrey’s paintings reflected the Native American heritage of Oklahoma with bright colors and geometric subjects, seeking to explore “unverified histories of the Anasazi people and lost lands of native people of Oklahoma.” 

In the other room, Oswalt, Wolfe, and Wright displayed their work together. 

Oswalt’s paintings analyze “turning points of life” with bold colors and bold subject matter. The subjects are a little risqué, but that quality leans into the spacelessness and timelessness of the paintings. The vivid colors and vintage aesthetic in some paintings amplify the reflection of Oswalt’s work. 

Wolfe’s work is primarily sculptural, with earthy tones and hues that contrast neatly with the works of the other artists. Wolfe works primarily with recycled material, emphasizing the natural origins and natural endpoints of all substance. The sculptures, with a fascinating array of what appears to be an ancient text, evoke a primal and natural response.

Finally, Wright’s paintings are a beautiful celebration of color, with stunning rings of bright raspberry jam pink and rays of sunflower yellow. The glasslike texture of her work stems from the alcohol ink she specializes in, a notoriously difficult-to-control medium. 

Together, these artists provide an elegant insight into the art world of Oklahoma City, particularly as it grows. 

All the artists will remain on display at the Paseo until the end of June.

Joy

The most alluring part of First Fridays, however, is the palpable joy. This First Friday came on the heels of the CDC’s updated mask-wearing guidance and a rosy picture of Oklahoma’s vaccination rate. 

As Amanda Bleakley, executive director of the Paseo Arts and Creativity Center described the environment, “it feels as if everyone’s gotten a new lease on life.” 

With nearby restaurants and bars open, the much-anticipated summer of 2021 began to take shape in The Paseo. 

If First Friday is anything to go by, this summer will be unrivaled. Slowly, Oklahoma City is being restored to “the sense of comfort we’re all used to,” as Bleakley puts it.

Of course, even as excitement swallows up the city, threads of due caution remain. Bleakley emphasized that while masks are no longer required indoors for shops in The Paseo, they are more than welcome. 

But caution does not diminish the happiness brought by a patiently acquired summer. Paseo’s First Friday marks an auspicious event whose delight is sure to be repeated in the First Fridays of July and August, as well as The Paseo Arts Festival in September. 


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Last Updated June 5, 2021, 9:55 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor