Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sightseeing ABC in OKC

Our whirlwind trip to Oklahoma City for our neighbors' wedding gave us a chance to do a little sightseeing on Saturday. Though we only had a few hours before we needed to head for home, our mini-tour of the city was as easy as ABC in OKC:

A - Arts

Memorial Day weekend was the Paseo Arts Fair. The historic Paseo Arts District was developed in 1929 as the first shopping district north of downtown. It's been redeveloped as the home to 17 galleries and more than 60 artists housed in renovated buildings with Spanish revival architecture. Intermingled with the galleries are restaurants, an event center, art schools, boutiques, gift shops and other businesses.
We wandered the permanent galleries and the city of white tents along the curved two-block street. Besides the visual artists in the booths, there were a number of live performers on the street corners. My favorite was this young cellist. Though I also enjoyed his classical selections, my favorite was his rendition of "A Thousand Years," which I'd just heard the night before at the wedding. (I put a link to The Piano Guys' rendition of this song at the bottom of the post. Beautiful!)
See what his tip bucket says? Juilliard Fund. Besides being an excellent instrumentalist, he was quite a marketer. I couldn't resist adding to his fund. (On the other hand, Randy put his money in a magician's hat. We both have our weaknesses!)

If you missed Memorial Day weekend, the Paseo district offers other special events, including the First Friday Gallery Walk with art openings, wine tastings and live music. On Saturdays, visitors can see artists at work giving live demonstrations.

B - Bricktown

We were in downtown Oklahoma City's Bricktown in 2010 for K-State's appearance in the NCAA regional basketball tournament's Sweet 16. For our Saturday foray into Bricktown, we ate at the Bricktown Brewery then took a ride on a water taxi.
Our water taxi chauffeur talked about the transformation of downtown OKC. During the past two decades, downtown has been transformed from a place most locals avoided after dark to a vibrant place to live, work and visit.

On two previous trips, we'd toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum (which we definitely recommend, but since our time was limited, we opted for something different this time.) The water taxi gave us a glimpse at all the improvements. Most impressive? They've had the money to pay for the improvements before they've started them. How fiscally responsible is that?!

From our water taxi, we had a front-row view of the Centennial Land Run Monument, which commemorates the opening of Indian land in the Oklahoma Territory. When complete in 2015, the sculpture-in-progress will feature 45 life and one-half size figures of land run participants, frozen in motion as they race to claim new homesteads.
The first major pieces, a buckboard and two draft horses, were placed by sculptor Paul Moore in April 2003. When completed, the art installment will be one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world.
It will span a distance of 365 feet in length by 36 feet in width and more than 16 feet in height. The Land Run Monument begins with a soldier and a cannon, firing the shot to start the run, and includes 24 horses and riders. A buckboard, two covered wagons, a buggy and a sulky represent some of the many vehicles used in the race. A dog races after a wagon, and a surprised rabbit watches from one side. The sculptor even included horse hoof prints at the water's edge. How's that for realism?

C - Cards

OK, it may be a stretch, but the "C" in our whirlwind tour stands for "cards" - as in, postcards. University of Central Oklahoma professor and artist Bob Palmer knows how to choose a canvas. He doesn't opt for the traditional 16- by 20-inch stretched canvas. His drawings appear on the sides of buildings.
His series depicting Oklahoma City through historic postcards can be seen during the water taxi ride. Palmer's students helped him complete the murals in record time, transforming drab buildings into works of art.
There is much more to see and do in OKC than we had time for during this short trip. Another location we'd go to again is Lake Hefner. Randy golfed there and I used the walking trails during two different visits.

As promised, here's The Piano Guys' version of Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years." Hers is worth listening to as well!

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