Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art festivals in Paseo, Oklahoma

One of the great things about being a Tripbod is trying to uncover just what it is that makes me think Oklahoma City is so great. I know that I love it, but if asked to articulate why exactly I happen to enjoy spending my time in a moderately sized metropolis, stuck in the middle of the plains, where the first image that pops into most people’s heads is of cowboys and Indians, sometimes I have to stop and think for a second. Or at least, I used to have to. As I’ve gotten older, well, not THAT much older, I have realized that as an adolescent and early college student I suffered from the near universal, often unrecognized and untreated, disease of birthplace loathing. Fortunately for me, I’ve been exposed to enough foreign cultures (cultivated, but not necessarily in a laboratory) to build up an immunity to this horrific thief of Midwestern youth. No longer do I aspire to get out for no other reason than a belief that everyone else in the world is having a hell of a lot better time that I am. For, you see, I have realized this simply is not the case.

Permit me an introduction, not to myself, but to a hidden and often unjustly despised part of my town that helped dispel me of the aforementioned loathing. My first apartment out of college bordered on an area called The Paseo. It cost $300/month and the lease was signed in the back of a truck on a piece of notebook paper with a landlord who firmly believed that he would make his fortune as an independent wholesale merchant of goat meat. My grandmother, despite swimming on one of the rooftops as a youth in the 1940s, was relieved to find out when I had moved out of a place that had received, probably rightly earned, a reputation that was less than wholesome through decades of disrepair and debauchery. I hope you have an unfavorable picture of this area. Why? Why would I want a potential visitor to have this image? Because I want you to have the same experience that I, as a local, had, and realize its blatant falsehood.

Not until I lived in the Paseo did I realize the richness of Oklahoma City. This area has undergone an INCREDIBLE revitalization over the past five years. Roughly 10 square blocks, itcontains 17 galleries and 60 artists. Not to mention numerous restaurants, music venues, and my favorite bar, the Red Rooster. The Paseo Arts festival in May brings out the city and state’s best artists and musicians in an incredibly pleasant and unpretentious atmosphere. Because of its unique place in OKC, many 20-30 year olds like to call this place home, and as someone fitting this category, I appreciate it as an area in which you actually know your neighbors, see them out, and can walk from place to place instead of drive. This quality makes the festival even better, as it really is like a large gathering of friends (and, admittedly, some of those friends of friends that you weren’t quite sure where they came from, but better not ask to leave out of politeness…). Despite reveling in all of this, I’ve recently discovered something more! The first Friday of every month, most of the galleries are opened up for late night viewing, wine tastings, and music. The next Saturday, many artists open their studios for demonstrations. With winter coming up, I should probably take advantage of November’s.

I realize a week from Friday might be rushing things a bit for you to make it over here. But maybe in December? And we don’t have to go see some artists. I hope I’m not being too forward, but I would love to have the opportunity to let you see a side of Oklahoma City that makes you think “I actually DO despise my hometown!” and “The people in Oklahoma City ARE actually having a hell of a lot better time than I am!”

By Hugh Long, Tripbod in Oklahoma
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