Oklahoma City artist Thomas Stotts works on his latest painting while crowds mill about Monday at the Paseo Arts Festival. (BAM photo)
Mr. BAM and I decided to spend our Memorial Day off trying to remember what it was like when we went places without our children. Dispatching our boys to various relatives, we headed out for a day of kid-free fun.
We started out at the final day of the 33rd annual Paseo Arts Festival. If you didn’t make it out this year – or worse, if you’ve never been – I highly recommend you add the free event to your 2010 calendar. We’ve made it a tradition over the last few years, and it’s now hard for me to imagine the unofficial first weekend of summer without our jaunt down to the historic arts district.
Our first order of business was to hear Spiritful Voices Community Choir perform down on the wimgo.com (south) stage. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the group lately, and I wanted to hear the music. The lively group of adults enthusiastically belted a variety of songs, from a medley from “A Chorus Line” to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The performance was definitely worth the wait as sound system issues delayed the start of the music.
Then, it was time for lunch, and the festival offered many choices along the usual fair food lines. My husband, Patrick, went the traditional corn dog route, while I noshed an Oklahoma and personal favorite, the Indian taco. It was one of the best I’d ever eaten, with perfectly cooked fry bread. Big cups of tea helped stave of thirst caused by the bright sun and rising temperatures.
While we were eating, I struck up a conversation with local painter Thomas Stotts, who was working on his latest landscape outside Adelante! Gallery, where shows his work in Oklahoma City. We chatted about his current project, featuring a farmhouse reportedly owned by one of his ancestors, and about his use of a textured, wraparound canvas for the painting.
The more than 80 juried artists exhibiting along the Paseo provided a wide variety of artwork to peruse, from Dana Forrester’s amazing watercolors of vintage cars to Scott Gamble’s colorful glasswork to Connie Baker’s beautifully textured stucco art tiles of shells and fruits. Another favorite was Suzy Toronto’s whimsical “Wonderful Wacky Women” illustrations, one of which echoed my fashion philosophy – “Life is too short to wear panty hose.”
Checking out artwork in the late May sun is warm work, so we cooled down with scrumptious homemade gelato from Bella Crema. I’d heard raves about Bella Crema’s creamy concoctions, but they didn’t prepare me for the delightful taste and texture of my scoop of mint chocolate chip. And my husband liked the caramel so much, he only very reluctantly shared a bite. Bella Crema gelato is a favorite at local festivals and also can be found at the Buzz coffeeshop in downtown’s First National Center.
We followed our trip to the Paseo with a second viewing of J.J. Abrams’ awesome reboot “Star Trek.” Even though the movie opened last weekend, we actually had trouble getting into a matinee screening. It was worth making the effort to drive to another theater when the first cinema we tried had already sold out the 2 p.m. screening.
Most parents of young children will tell you that the rare opportunities for a couple’s day are not to be missed – and are made all the sweeter when your toddler grins at you when you reappear and then gives you an extra-long hug at bedtime. And if you can spend a date day at one of Oklahoma’s terrific arts festivals, so much the better.