The Paseo Arts Festival is so green even its trash has become art.
Well, there really is a giant earthworm being stuffed with plastic bottles, but certifiable “greenness” won't come next year, said Jo Wise, executive director of the Paseo Arts Association
By then, Styrofoam food containers will be banned and there will be compost bins for leftovers that might normally be thrown in the trash, she said.
“It's an art festival, but we're trying to be community conscious at every level,” she said.
Now in its 36th year, three-day arts festival kicked off Saturday and will run through Monday in the historic Paseo District, Oklahoma City's most vibrant arts district.
More than 80 artists, local and from afar, have their work on display in an outdoor tent mall, with several stations set up for children to get some hands-on experience.
At “Paper Play Theater,” children construct and perform with puppets, and at the Children's Art Area they paint and build sculptures with clay.
Sixty performance artists representing a dozen or more genres perform on two stages, one of which has been designated for acoustic local talent only.
And then there's Pic
James Varnum, co-founder of the nonprofit SixTwelve and a Paseo District resident, said Picnicland is exhibits and hands-on displays that feature art in conjunction with sustainability.
At one station, children build bird feeders out of recycled oatmeal cartons; at another they make prints on Styrofoam plates. People can sign up for “smart hours” at an Oklahoma Gas and Electric booth and donate proceeds back to the district, and Science Museum Oklahoma is hosting a solar oven activity.
Behind the displays is a former apartment complex the nonprofit is working to refurbish and turn into an artists' cooperative, Varnum said.
The goal of Picnicland is twofold, he said.
“One is just showing people the ways in which Paseo is embracing sustainability, and then also to bring these entities together around this space,” he said. “This space is a creative, sustainable space.”
Along the artists' row, browsers walked, buyers haggled and several lounged along the sidewalks enjoying food and beverages, alcoholic or not, in the midday sun.
Janet Brandt and Yost Smith, a couple from Enid, sought shelter from the sun under the tent at the acoustic stage.
Brandt, a school librarian, said the two picked this weekend to visit Oklahoma City on purpose.
“It's outdoors and we like the music, the art. And it's really nice to get to talk to the artists themselves,” she said. “We just enjoy being together and hanging out.”
Christy Myers, an Oklahoma City artist, lauded the clay sculpture her granddaughter molded at the children's area.
“They see me do my art all the time, but I wanted to expose them to other artists and other styles,” she said of her grandchildren. “There are so many wonderful, talented artists in Oklahoma City and a lot of them are right in here right now.”
Wise said the festival's success is built on its artists, and they line up to participate because of its reputation.
She estimated that last year, 50,000 to 60,000 people showed up, based on drink sales.
“The artists that do festivals are a clique, and they know what the good shows are and what the bad shows are,” she said. “And I think a lot of people who come out to Paseo come because they know they're going to have a good experience, but they don't know what that's going to be. It's different every year, very organic.”
If you go
The festival is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, with music Monday running until 7 p.m. For more information, go to www.