Written, Visual, Performing or Other – Art Nourishes the Soul
We are truly blessed to live in a place where the arts–written, visual, performing and other–thrive. Whether your tastes run more toward the traditional or avant-garde, there’s always something just down Interstate 35 or street, if not your very own neighborhood, to please the eye and ear, to nourish your soul.
Sooner Theatre in Norman offers young and older residents alike the opportunity to fulfill their thespian dreams on the stage or, if they prefer, work behind-the-scenes in roles ranging from director to set designer. The Depot offers concerts, poetry readings, art workshops and more year-long. Poetry readings also are a common offering at several Norman downtown coffee shops.
In Norman, art even lives on the walls of downtown buildings, in the form of fanciful bike racks, and modern and traditional sculpture. Many area businesses support the arts, and often exhibit them as well. One notable example is Frontier State Bank in Oklahoma City, which recently installed a stunning prismatic chandelier that is drawing admirers.
For those desiring instruction in drawing, painting or sculpture, or how to take better digital photos, as well as a host of other artistic pursuits, the Firehouse Art Center offers low-cost classes for all ages.
Of course, the University of Oklahoma greatly enhances this area’s arts offerings. Visitors to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art–to which admission is always complimentary, by the way–can view an impressive collection of French Impressionism as well as Native American art and art of the Southwest and many other important collections and rotating exhibitions. And of course, OU offers a kaleidoscope of art shows; orchestral, band, jazz and other concerts; and musical and dramatic productions year-round.
Arts festivals–of which there are many–provide free or low-cost entertainment, attracting people from across Cleveland County as well as other parts of the state and beyond. These include the Medieval Fair, Firehouse Art Center’s Midsummer Night’s Fair and Assistance League of Norman’s May Fair, and in Noble, the Rose Rock Festival. And don’t forget Norman’s 2nd Friday Art Walk (see story, this issue). A little further up I-35, arts festivals abound, including the Festival of the Arts and Paseo Arts Festival.
Treats for the ear abound as well. Examples include the Summer Breeze Concert Series, Norman Music Festival and Jazz in June.
Storytelling–another ancient art form–also is found here. Children form the captive audience at storytelling sessions offered through the Pioneer Library System, serving residents of Cleveland and well as McClain and Pottawatomie counties.
The benefits of living in an area in which the arts play such a central role go beyond its entertainment value. We benefit by having as our neighbors these “creatives”–people who see and sense the world in a way that is fundamentally different. They help us see our community, our world, through a different lens.
All art tells a story. The story may take the form of words in a poem, novel or song–or a photograph, painting, guitar riff or dance movement. When we open our hearts and minds, the arts can lift us up, help us make sense of our world, and broaden our experience and understanding. A graceful ballet dancer’s leap, a melancholy melody, a photograph of a child blowing a dandelion–each medium and each example of art, in its own way, dares us to imagine the unimaginable and to connect us to the past, the present and the future.
Whether you earn a living as a businessman or construction foreman, coach or teacher, doctor or lawyer, minister or Realtor–or work without a regular paycheck as a student or stay-at-home mom or dad–and no matter your race, religion, income or background, the arts remind us that the world in which we live is more than the sum of our parts, and that we are all part of a shared community.
Get out and experience all this unique place in which we live has to offer. Check out a local art gallery. Attend a community or university theater production or concert. Make plans to attend one or more of the spring and summer art fairs, an art gallery, a concert, or community or university theatrical production with your family or friends.
And ask your neighbor who paints or teaches piano over for tea. Who knows? It may be the start of a beautiful friendship.