Red Earth Festival adds sculpture exhibit at Myriad Gardens

Along with Red Earth, the Jim Thorpe Native American Games, deadCenter Film Festival and Native American New Play Festival are celebrating American Indian culture this weekend.
BY BRANDY MCDONNELL bmcdonnell@opubco.com Published: June 8, 2012
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From sculptures and stickball to new plays and restored film, an array of American Indian traditions, stories and festivities will enliven Oklahoma City this weekend.

“This weekend, Oklahoma City is going to be epicenter of Native art and culture and sports in the country,” said Eric Oesch, deputy director of the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival.

“It is THE destination.”

The 26th annual Red Earth Festival will bring its famed parade, dance competition, art market, youth activities, cultural cuisine and more Friday-Sunday to the Cox Convention Center.

The award-winning event is getting even bigger, partnering with the Myriad Gardens Foundation to bring the inaugural Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Exhibit to downtown's recently revamped green space.

In addition, Red Earth organizers are spreading the word about other Oklahoma City events spotlighting American Indian culture, including the first-ever Jim Thorpe Native American Games, the deadCenter Film Festival and Oklahoma City Theatre's Native American New Play Festival.

“Instead of competing, we're working together,” Oesch said. “It only makes sense ... because we're all working on a shoestring budget.”

About 30,000 people are expected to attend Red Earth, including hundreds of American Indian dancers and artists, he said.

The festival's first Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Exhibit will feature works by 10 renowned American Indian sculptors, including Enoch Kelly Haney, Shan Gray and Janice Albro.

“We've had 26 years of artists coming through Red Earth, so we know some really great artists,” Oesch said. “But we didn't have a spectacular outdoor venue ... so it just works perfectly.”

“It's conveniently located right across the street from the Cox Center, so if people want to get out a little bit, they can come on over,” said Stephanie Royse, director of marketing and communications for the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

“Because these are larger-scale works, it's nice that we can keep them up ... for a longer time. And it just enhances the gardens.”

On view through Sept. 9, the sculptures will be installed in the Meinders Garden in the northeast corner of the Myriad Gardens and inside the visitors center on the south end of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Observatory. Admission will be free.

A free, public opening reception is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the south entrance of the Crystal Bridge.

Eventgoers will get a sneak peek at the sculpture exhibit as the festival launches at 10 a.m. Friday with the Red Earth Parade, which circles the Myriad Gardens.

After marching in the parade, the Arizona-based Navajo Nation Band, which includes 60 musicians and drum majors ages 13 to 80, will play a free concert from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday on the Myriad Gardens Great Lawn.

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IF YOU GO

Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival

When: 11 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Where: Cox Convention Center.

Grand entries: Noon and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon Sunday.

Parade: 10 a.m. Friday around the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Information: 427-5228 or www.redearth.org.

Red Earth Invitation Sculpture Exhibit

When: Friday-Sept. 9.

Where: Myriad Botanical Gardens Meinders Garden and visitors center.

Free opening reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Crystal Bridge south entrance.

Information: 297-3611 or www.myriadgardens.org.

Jim Thorpe Native American Games

When: June 16.

Where: Various venues around Oklahoma City.

Opening ceremonies: 8 p.m. Sunday, Remington Park.

Information: www.jimthorpegames.com.

deadCenter Film Festival

When: Through Sunday.

Where: Multiple venues in downtown Oklahoma City.

Information: www.deadcenterfilm.org.

Native American New Play Festival

When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Civic Center CitySpace Theatre.

Information: 297-2264 or www.OKCTC.org.

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