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Taking It to the Streets

A trip through summer in OKC neighborhoods



 



At first, they would venture back downtown for big annual events: the Festival of Arts; Opening Night on New Year’s Eve; the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. As the downtown renaissance took hold and concerns about crime and grime faded, they kept coming back to the revamped Myriad Gardens, the new ballpark, a remodeled Civic Center Music Hall, the dazzling OKC Museum of Art and its restored movie theater, the modern downtown library, the new water taxis on the new canal.
 

Historic districts lured visitors to Oklahoma City through a series of micro-Main Streets with a sense of place and personality.

Over the years, more features encouraged people to linger, and to return again and again: pre-game festivities and watch parties around the Chesapeake Arena and Bricktown Ballpark. Concerts and movie nights in the Myriad Gardens. Pop-up shops. Food truck gatherings. New street festivals. An ice-skating rink. Bars and cafes and restaurants and coffee shops and specialty retailers – bicycle shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries, wine stores, microbreweries – in old buildings with city views.

Art in the heart of the city has evolved away from the officialdom of fiberglass buffalos and historical murals of mounted men and women in sun bonnets – toward a celebration of life in the now. Neon tribal murals leading into Bricktown. Lighted bricks dotting the Myriad walkways. Astride I-40, the Skydance Bridge projects choreographed lighting designs. The Crystal Bridge serves as a canvas, pulsating with colors like a magical kaleidoscope set down by the pond.

The urban core has become a virtual Busytown cyclorama of outdoor activities. This summer, patrons on the dog-friendly patios of Midtown’s Bleu Garten and Fassler Hall share tables with strangers when it’s busy – and it’s often busy – as well as old-school games such as ping-pong or cornhole and sports on the screen. Crowds happily juggle plates of barbeque during the Food Truck Triple Play in a steamy parking lot outside the ballpark, bring blankets for free movie night Wednesdays on the Myriad’s Great Lawn, watch storms roll in during the museum’s Thursday night rooftop bash, queue up for gallery openings on the Paseo during First Fridays, take turns on the conversation couch on Sheridan during Exchange on Film Row, gawk at the ever-changing street art gallery of Plaza Walls or meander through the 24/7 public galleries at the 21c Museum Hotel.

This 405 photoessay offers a glimpse into the events and atmosphere that go into forming summer in the city, 2016-style.


 

Myriad Gardens

Unique Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory; Thunder Fountain, cycling water feature inspired by Oklahoma thunderstorms Main drag 17 acres between W Sheridan and W Reno, Hudson and Robinson (a.k.a. Ron Norick Boulevard) Recurring Movies in the Park, Twilight Concert Series Sunday evenings Upcoming Internet Cat Video Festival, 6-9 p.m. Aug. 6; Full Moon Bike Ride and Run, 7 p.m. Aug. 18

The Myriad Gardens sold out its June 29 International Mud Day celebration, encouraging kids to roll in the mud, make mud pies, create pinch pots and build mud fairy houses. Taking a break before getting hosed off: Sakari Wilkinson, 9, (center) and siblings Lauryn Crawford, 5 months, Jocelyn Crawford, 6, Logan Crawford, 3, and Kailyn Crawford, 9, all of south Oklahoma City.


 

Bricktown

Unique Century-old brick warehouses repurposed for entertainment district Main drag The Canal Recurring 20 Oklahoma City Dodgers home games at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Aug. 3-31 Upcoming Food Truck Triple Play, 6-10 p.m. Sept. 12

Food Truck Triple Play outside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, July 1


 

Automobile Alley

Unique Oklahoma Contemporary Guerrilla Art Park; The Womb Main drag Broadway between NE 13th and NE 4th streets Recurring Pre-Christmas Shop Hop Upcoming AMP (Art, Music, Power) Festival of art and music created by women, noon-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27

A psychedelic icon since 2011, The Womb gallery, 25 W 9th St., was co-founded by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, with exterior design commissioned from Brooklyn-based artist Maya Hayuk.


 

Plaza District

Unique Plaza Walls outdoor street art gallery Main drag 1700 block of NW 16th Street between Classen and Penn Recurring Live! On the Plaza block party, second Fridays, 7-11 p.m. Upcoming Plaza District Festival, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24

Costumed revelers promenade at a Day of the Dead festival.


 

Arts District North

Unique Dale Chihuly’s 55-foot blown-glass tower in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art atrium is dramatically lit for street viewing 24/7. Main drag Bicentennial Park, between Civic Center Music Hall and City Hall Recurring Art After 5, Oklahoma City Museum of Art Roof Terrace, Thursdays, 5-10:30 p.m., May through October. Free for members; $5 for non-members Upcoming 51st annual Festival of the Arts, April 2017

Yumare Mexican Folkloric Dancers on the closing day of the 2016 Festival of the Arts


 

Film Row

Unique Paramount Theater Oklahoma icon murals, 21c Museum Hotel galleries open 24/7 Main drag Sheridan Avenue between Dewey and Shartel Recurring Exchange on Film Row street party, third Fridays, 6:30-9:30 p.m., May through October Upcoming 2017 deadCenter Film Festival

Oklahoma icon mural series on the Paramount featuring Charlie Christian, Joan Crawford and Woody Guthrie, by Mr. G



 

► Thundering On

He was Oklahoma’s first worldwide superstar since Will Rogers, a hero who represented the better angels in ourselves.

Kevin Durant – an ex-Texas Longhorn who grew up near Washington, D.C., and moved here from Seattle at the age of 19 as a charter member of the Thunder – was embraced by Oklahomans as one of our own.

Although he would become the most popular person in the state, he did not make many speeches. It was his actions that impressed: the shy smile, the modesty, the generosity … and, of course, the mad athleticism. Plus, he was sweet to his mom, who cheered him on from courtside.

For eight years, he led Oklahomans to what many would never have thought possible, breaching old fiefdoms of Sooner crimson and Cowboy orange with a unifying Thunder blue. He became the face of the city, a shorthand call-and-response – “Oklahoma City? Kevin Durant!” – you’d hear on the road when someone asked where you were from.

He loved downtown, and it loved him back. After initially living in the gated community of Gaillardia, he bought a place in Deep Deuce, not far from his Bricktown restaurant, KD’s Southern Cuisine.

From late spring into summer, when he was pondering his decision on whether to re-sign with the Thunder, local businesses posted promposal-style asks with the confidence of a longtime partner. When the days ticked by and his answer was not forthcoming, a nervous buzz began.

People looked for clues as to which way he was leaning. Just a few weeks ago, he had talked with pride about the renaissance in his neighborhood, and what it means for the long term: “The championships, the records, the ‘who’s the best player’ – there will always be new champions and new records and new players. What we’re talking about, these are jobs, these are lives, these are things that will matter for 40 years, and that is very cool to me.”

The turnaround Durant was witnessing was years in the making, beginning when he was in kindergarten. Faced with a dying downtown and decades of missteps, Oklahoma City voters agreed in three separate elections to be taxed an additional cent for each dollar spent in the city. The first Metropolitan Area Projects initiative passed in 1993, followed by MAPS for Kids in 2001 and MAPS 3 in 2009. The promise: if you build it – invest in, believe in, reimagine Oklahoma City – they will come. People will be drawn to meet and mingle, creating a critical mass of humanity that would, in turn, attract more people and businesses.


And it worked. The collective commitment of the people of Oklahoma City prompted others to buy in. All told, nearly $2 billion has been raised to improve the city’s infrastructure over 20 years, collected one penny at a time by each dollar spent within the city limits.

The new downtown has revitalized a series of micro-Main Streets, districts with their own quirkiness and energy and vibe, inspiring restaurants and boutiques and business offices to return to the city center. Dances and movies and concerts and full-moon runs are held in the Myriad Gardens. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art serves drinks on its rooftop terrace. Chophouses and food trucks and fire pits dot the downtown.

The people of Oklahoma City – numbering a half-million in 2000 and more than 630,000 today – teamed up to invest in the city and its future.

Late in June, as the town’s Stay KD campaign crescendoed, the revitalized Tower Theater on 23rd Street offered wry advice: “KD, A LOT OF FOLKS THOUGHT I WOULDN’T COME BACK EITHER.”

When Durant opted not to return, his decision – however disappointing – had no bearing on the comebacks of the Tower, its Uptown 23rd District or the entire downtown.
In the end, even Will Rogers moved to California.

It is Oklahoma, however, that helped make him who he was.

Three weeks before Durant made his decision, a massive mural quickly took shape on the side of the Paramount, a 90-year-old brick building on Film Row within sight of Chesapeake Arena. It was an impromptu work, created without permits or pay, by artist Graham Hoete in tribute to his favorite Thunder player. Steven Adams’ face, locked in an intense glower above his flexed arms and trademark tattoo, now soars three stories tall, dominating the view down Shartel for viewers facing east toward the sunrise. From the proper vantage point, the Devon Tower aligns on his head like a crown.

Durant is gone now. Ibaka, too. The future of the indomitable Westbrook is uncertain. Yet at this year’s season opener, in the arena built by MAPS money, surrounded by a glistening downtown and by bars and restaurants hosting watch parties, fans will cheer wildly for players new and old. But not by name.

With the Thunder faithful, the chant is always the same: O-K-C! O-K-C! O-K-C! 



NOTE: These images are only the beginning of OKC’s summer story – to see more of M.J.’s travels through the city’s multifarious neighborhoods, click here. Happy exploring!
 

 

 

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Calendar

January 2019

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate during MLK weekend with fun! From Saturday 1/19 through Monday 1/21, experience our Winter Fun Pass for just $19.95! This pass includes unlimited laser tag, bumper cars, frog hopper, kidz...

Cost: 19.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate during MLK weekend with fun! From Saturday 1/19 through Monday 1/21, experience our Winter Fun Pass for just $19.95! This pass includes unlimited laser tag, bumper cars, frog hopper, kidz...

Cost: 19.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park
3300 Market Place Dr
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator's Fun Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Presented By Painted Sky Opera By Leonard Bernstein Sam and Dinah may appear to be the picture of 1950s suburban marital bliss in this jazz-influenced opera by the composer of West Side...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall - City Space
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Painted Sky Opera
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

The 8th annual “A Perfect Finish” will feature a night of wine & beer tasting, an auction, food and fun benefiting the OKC RIVERSPORT Junior Crew.  The proceeds from this...

Cost: $75

Where:
McClendon Whitewater Center
800 Riversport Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: RIVERSPORT OKC
Telephone: 405.552.4040
Contact Name: Luke Reynolds
Website »

More information

Presented By OKC Philharmonic Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor Yolanda Kondonassis, harp Bernstein - On the Town: Three Dance Episodes Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent) Higdon - Concerto for...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Phil
Telephone: 405.842.5387
Website »

More information

Presented By Painted Sky Opera By Leonard Bernstein Sam and Dinah may appear to be the picture of 1950s suburban marital bliss in this jazz-influenced opera by the composer of West Side...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall - City Space
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Painted Sky Opera
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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