People eating lunch in the atrium at downtown Oklahoma City's Leadership Square were recently treated to a mask-making demonstration by local artist Patrick Riley.
Another day, the folk duo Local Honey brought their musical flair to lunchtime visitors at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library.
This surge of artistry isn't happenstance.
The artists showing off their skills and talents at locations throughout downtown are part of “Art Moves, Presented by Devon,” an initiative started Oct. 3 by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. Through the program, a different artist will perform at a downtown venue each weekday for 50 weeks out of the year. There are no performances scheduled the week before Christmas and the week of the Festival of the Arts.
Peter Dolese, the arts council's executive director, said he came up with the idea for the program as an opportunity to connect people to the arts on a daily basis.
Dolese said his first job in the arts was in downtown Oklahoma City in the 1970s, when the city was bustling. He said the economy slumped after the failure of Penn Square Bank in 1982.
“I always thought if Oklahoma City came back, we should have daily arts programming,” he said.
“Now Oklahoma City is booming like it was back in the '70s, and this is a real opportunity for us to move into daily programming.”
Dolese said Devon Energy leaders liked the idea so much that they decided to sponsor the initiative.
“Definitely, they are a big presence in downtown, so they were excited to sign on,” Dolese said.
Dolese said the Arts Council has provided programs through all the economic ups and downs and is delighted to be part of the revitalization of the downtown.
“The Arts Council has been here through thick and thin,” he said.
“As Bricktown has come alive and as other components have come alive, we have continued to show that this is a wonderful place to be.”