NORMAN — Anyone driving south on Flood Avenue can't help but notice the Firehouse Art Center, just south of Symmes Street adjacent to Lions Park. For one thing, the building is larger than its residential neighbors. And a gallery-style room filled with art is visible through the front windows.
Even if those things fail to catch your attention, you can't miss the giant statues of a fish, a girl's head with a ponytail and two rubber ducks on the lawn.
All of these are outward indicators of the creativity that is ongoing inside the art center.
Every semester the Firehouse offers 30-plus classes for children and adults. Drawing, painting and sculpture are offered, as well as courses such as fiber art, ceramics and jewelry.
“The most important thing I could tell anybody about the Firehouse is that it is a place where we want you to create, to innovate, and to play,” said Executive Director Douglas Elder Shaw. “A lot of people say ‘I can't draw a straight line.' Well, we won't ask you to. We want you to draw a line according to what you want to say.”
Children's classes are especially popular, with about 500 aspiring artists attending each year. Every class includes a free museum trip, where students can find inspiration for their own work. In 2007, the Firehouse implemented its Creating with the Masters, art-oriented leaning that meets Oklahoma's Priority Academic Student Skills standards set for schools.
The Firehouse doesn't limit its devotion to a creative education to inside its walls. The nonprofit is dedicated to helping Oklahoma schools that may be unable to afford a full-time art instructor. The Firehouse sends its own people to teach lessons and support art education providers.
Every February, the Firehouse throws its Chocolate Festival fundraiser, featuring art activities and, of course, copious amounts of chocolate.
The Midsummer Nights' Fair, held each summer just outside the Firehouse in Lion's Park, is another community favorite.
In 2012, the Firehouse Art Center received the Governor's Award for Art Education, as well as the Norman Arts Council's Fowler Arts Education Award.
Firehouse Art Center
For more information, call 329-4523 or go to www.