I arrived late for a noon lunch appointment downtown today. I’m glad I did (and thanks to Kim Searls and Jessica Gonzalez for helping me get some photos of the wonderful chaos we encountered!)
So what’s this all about? It’s about the reorganized Oklahoma City Ballet, which first captured our attention a couple months ago with a great performance outside City Hall. Today the ballet folks paraded down Park Avenue to promote their latest production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Great stuff guys.
The Oklahoma City Ballet will hold three performances of old pumpkinhead at 7 p.m. Oct. 30, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 31.
Here’s the rundown of the show:
Based on Washington Irving’s spooky tale of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, Bram Bones and of course the unforgettable Headless Horseman, this full length ballet is sure to be a new Halloween favorite for the entire family. We’re promised the show will boast beautiful sets, costumes and an original score composed by Emmy award winning composer Lanny Meyers played live by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
So to all of you who say you crave a Whole Foods market, to all of you who yearn to make Oklahoma City a major league city … how serious are you about doing your part to make all this a reality? Part of achieving these dreams is showing support for major league arts – like a hometown ballet. And now is your chance to get a glimpse at a resurgent Oklahoma City Ballet and its new director. From everything I’ve heard, this isn’t the ballet company we’ve seen drawing dwindling audiences the past several years – instead, it’s an innovative group of performers bringing new ideas to their craft.
I’ll see you there.
I’ll be expanding on this idea Tuesday, but I want to get things started today: IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT TONIGHT, GO SEE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK TONIGHT AT THE MYRIAD GARDENS!
I know, I know, it’s hot out there. But the performance starts at 8 p.m. and with the sun hitting the horizon it’s just another summer evening in Oklahoma. For $10 you get some great live theater and you’re doing your part to create a great downtown. The box office opens at 7 p.m. and the performance is on the Myriad Gardens Water Stage, which has seen significant improvements the past couple years thanks to donations by Devon Energy.
Folks, if you want a vibrant downtown, if you want to see the momentum continue, you can’t just say “that would be great to see someday …” – enjoy this performance today and show these folks some much earned love.
One more tidbit … you will see “Thunder” at tonight’s game… the voice of the NBA will be speaking the King’s English tonight.
For more about Shakespeare in the Park, visit http://www.oklahomashakespeare.com.
About tonight’s show:
OSP’s first show of the season is As You Like It. Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match. Her usurping uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court.
Duke Frederick has usurped the title and throne of his elder brother, Duke Senior. Duke Senior has taken up residence in the Forest of Arden with his band of loyal followers, leaving his daughter, Rosalind, behind at the court. Into this situation, enter Orlando and Oliver de Boys, two brothers divided by enmity. Orlando has long been mistreated by his brother; when Orlando enters a wrestling match sponsored by Duke Frederick, Oliver tells his opponent, Charles—a champion wrestler—that he wouldn’t care if Charles were to break Orlando’s neck.
To the surprise of all, Orlando wins the match. In doing so, he attracts the romantic attention of Rosalind and the ire of Oliver. Orlando and his servant, Adam, flee Oliver’s wrath into Arden. Duke Frederick decides to banish Rosalind to Arden as he did with her father. Celia, Frederick’s daughter and Rosalind’s best friend, declares that she will accompany her in exile. Rosalind disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede, while Celia assumes the part of “his” sister, Aliena. They are accompanied by the clown Touchstone.
Orlando eventually finds himself in the company of Duke Senior’s men, pining for his lost Rosalind. Rosalind, meanwhile, purchases a flock of sheep and a pasture, and sets out to lead a pastoral life. Before long, however, Orlando’s habit of carving Rosalind’s name in the trees and leaving love poems scattered about the forest tip her off to his presence. Still disguised as Ganymede, Rosalind seeks out Orlando to get a better sense of his feelings for her. She promises to cure Orlando’s heartache by letting him pour his feelings out to Ganymede as if “he” were Rosalind. Rosalind also attempts a match between Silvius and Phebe that goes awry when Phebe falls instead for Rosalind’s Ganymede. Meanwhile, Touchstone courts a country girl named Audrey, adding to the multiple romance plots.
The resolution begins when Oliver enters the camp. Orlando has saved him from an attack by a lion, and the two brothers have reconciled. Upon meeting Celia, now Oliver falls in love; Duke Senior promises to join them in wedlock the next day. Rosalind makes Phebe promise to marry Silvius if she can’t have Ganymede, then tells Orlando that Rosalind will marry him that day as well. When all have gathered for the wedding, Rosalind reveals herself as the erstwhile Ganymede. She and Orlando are happily reunited, and Phebe agrees to marry Silvius. Touchstone will also marry Audrey. As the pledges of love are exchanged, Orlando and Oliver’s brother enters the scene. Jaques brings news that Duke Frederick, upon meeting a holy man, has repented his ways and opted for a monastic life. Duke Senior is restored to his rightful position, and all live happily ever after.
I got the following email today from Beth Rutledge and a pdf of the above page from Metropolitan magazine:
I saw this article (attached) yesterday in Metropolitan Home magazine and thought it was supercool that the Shulman exhibit currently at OKCMoA received a full-page (editorial, not advertising) in the May 2009 edition. Cover is shown below. The write up fell under the headline: “Metro/See” — promoting must-see metropolitan entertainment spots. I love that one of downtown OKC’s cultural anchors was recognized nationally for a must-see exhibit — an exhibit that is totally Oklahoma!
Yep. That’s supercool.
Way back when, going back to 1995, the owners of La Baguette opened a second location at downtown’s Journal Record Building. The restaurant was a hit, but the bombing of the neighboring Alfred P. Murrah Building ended the operation.
When I first learned Michel and Alain Buthion were planning to return downtown in 2006 to the renovated Colcord Hotel, I assumed they would reopen LaBaguette. I was wrong. A lot of people were wrong. Instead they came out with Soliel, which matched the initial hotel concept pushed by developer Paul Coury: swanky, expensive and if you have to ask how much, then too expensive for you.
This isn’t a concept that flies well in populist Oklahoma, regardless of income. Coury realized his mistake after one year, hired on Waterford veteran hotelier Jeff Erwin and made the hotel warmer, more approachable.
The Buthions, from what I’ve heard around town, didn’t follow suit and stuck to the Soliel concept which never matched their very popular LaBaguette. They’re artists, so let’s not jump to judging them. But it was a misfire.
Enter Devon Energy as the hotel’s new owner. Devon, from its CEO Larry Nichols on down, is very much the definition of “approachable.”
So now that Colcord officials have confirmed to me the restaurant is changing to LaBaguette (you can find evidence as well on their Soliel website, which is in transition), count me as someone who is not surprised.
None of this is meant to the highly regarded Buthions, who have a big, big following in this town. But being business requires that you give people what they want.
Yeah, it’s looking like it’s going to be one of those weeks. You know, “a chamber of commerce kind of week.” Downtown is looking great, the Festival of the Arts is gearing up and the weather forecast is looking like a winner all week long.
I’m talking with my editor this morning, and the reporter who was supposed to do a story on the festival today is out. Could I get out and do it? It’s a rough assignment, but yeah, I guess I can fit that in (NOTE TO FESTIVAL ORGANIZERS: NOBODY IS ANSWERING YOUR PHONES! PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP AND DON”T MAKE ME USE TWITTER!)
Interesting item on tomorrow’s council docket: Brewer Enterprises is asking for, and is getting, an early termination of their lease for the city-owned parking lot immediately east of Ford Center. COTPA is set to take it over. If you’ll recover, The Oklahoman discovered a couple years back that Brewer Enterprises owed thousands of dollars to the city on the lot’s operation – a debt that was then paid after the report came out.
I guess we’ll see cheaper parking across from Ford Center now?
Dennis Wells, you are the man. Just when I start to spiral into that dreaded blogger burnout, you provide me with exactly what I need to get going again.
So let’s get this discussion started. First, those of you who have attended presentations by Jack Money and I on our book, “OKC Second Time Around,” might recall that one of our favorite lines is that the 1993 MAPS initiative was a trick – that it was very much a revival of the much hated Urban Renewal program. Further, it has always seemed as if the Myriad Gardens, and the 1989 relocation of the Spring Arts Festival, might have provided the opening for this “trick” to be played.
So imagine my amusement when Dennis today emailed an article from the latest issue of Architect magazine. I think I’ll let do the story do the rest of the talking here and then we’ll pick up the discussion in the comments that follow:
Past Progressives: Greening the City
1973 P/A Award: Myriad Botanical Gardens, Conklin & Rossant
Source: ARCHITECT Magazine
Publication date: March 1, 2009
When the 1973 P/A Awards jury met, the era of federally funded urban renewal was ending, but the dream of transforming urban downtowns remained compelling. The Myriad Gardens plan for Oklahoma City received a rarely bestowed First Award.
The scheme departed radically from renewal precedents by proposing a downtown botanical garden. Its architects, Conklin & Rossant of New York, hadn’t been asked to design a garden, but rather to propose uses for a 17-acre renewal tract. They won the commission with their concept of exposing an underground watercourse as a pond, then bridging it with a conservatory.
Architect William Conklin reports that the P/A Award gave crucial encouragement to civic leaders and donors hoping to expand on the design prestige generated by juror John Johansen’s 1970 Mummers Theater on an adjoining block. Fundraising for the gardens suffered from the vagaries of Oklahoma’s oil-based economy. Construction of the conservatory took place from 1981 to 1985, but its tropical plantings weren’t ready for public view until 1988.
Many planned ancillary facilities such as restaurants, galleries, and cinemas were eliminated—and aren’t missed. One surviving feature is a pond-side amphitheater, site of a popular annual Shakespeare series. Ongoing renovations to the complex will soon include overdue replacement of the conservatory’s acrylic glazing.
The urban revival now apparent in Oklahoma City gathered momentum only in the 1990s, after the gardens were completed. Clearly, this unique amenity has helped to attract further investment and activity to this once-forlorn downtown.
1973 P/A Awards Jury: Arthur Erickson, Hugh Hardy, John Johansen, William LeMessurier, and Donald Stull
I knew it came close. I didn’t realize that destruction was flying above everything I cherish. Thank you God is all I can say.
On Tuesday (was that really yesterday?) I revealed in my Main Street column that a wide array of downtown leaders are seeking to add a potential Bricktown Canal extension to the discussion of what’s next for downtown.
These folks are not insisting that funding be provided for such a project or that it be a part of a possible MAPS 3. Instead, there is a growing awareness of significant planning for the future and proponents say they’d like to at least see a canal extension given serious consideration.
The chief reasoning appears to be the potential of making the canal a major pedestrian thoroughfare. Interestingly enough, the city has quietly retained the respect author and planner Jeff Speck to look at improving pedestrian access downtown.
Now here’s a big secret I’ll share about how consultants typically conduct their research: they are given marching orders by their employer (in this case it would be city staff) and that’s that. All too often I’ve seen consultants’ reports disappoint various interested parties – and at the root of it all seems to be a tendency by consultants to simply come up with what they think the clients want.
Jeff Speck, by the way, is not your typical consultant. He’s the guy who first introduced himself to Oklahoma City a couple of years ago by addressing a crowd with the introduction of “your codes are bad.”
How presumptious. How dare he. How brilliant.
Everyone in the room laughed and nobody disagreed.
So here’s hoping that Jeff remains presumptious. And here’s a copy of the resolution Urban Neighbors passed that explains why it, the All Sports Association, the Bricktown Association and several other leading downtown organizations and leaders are spending a lot of time and effort trying to get the canal extension idea into the discussion of downtown’s future:
Resolution of Endorsement
January 29, 2009
The Urban Neighbors Board of Directors voted to support the city’s original plans of extending the canal west between the Ford and Cox Center. The Urban Neighbors Board is encouraging the city of Oklahoma City to consider this idea as plans are made for downtown development. Potentially connecting the canal into the Myriad Gardens would provide a much desired connectivity.
As plans are developed for the future of downtown Oklahoma City, the Urban Neighbors Board believes that a canal extension would play a vital role in connecting Bricktown to the Oklahoma River, Central Business District, Ford and Cox Centers, the Myriad Gardens, the new Devon
Tower and the proposed new convention center and hotel. Additionally, this extension would significantly improve the walkability of downtown OKC, a key asset for any downtown.With this extension, downtown residents would enjoy an enhanced quality of life with improved access to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
Additionally, easier access to downtown green space, both old and new, would be an asset. The Urban Neighbors Board prefaces its support with a desire for such a plan to be incorporated into an overall master plan for the area affected and that timing of such an improvement be appropriate to overall connectivity plans within the downtown area.
A canal extension would provide the following key connections:
- Proposed convention center and hotel to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
- CBD and Devon Tower to Bricktown to the Oklahoma River.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
- Core to Shore area to Bricktown and Oklahoma River
- Ford and Cox Centers to Bricktown
- Meridian Hotel corridor to Myriad Botanical Gardens, Arts District and CBD
A canal extension benefits:
- Downtown residents
- Myriad Botanical Gardens
- Ford Center, Cox Center, plus their tenants and users
- Central Business District businesses and workers
- Bricktown District
- Arts District
- Boathouse community
- River users
- OKC Convention and Visitors Bureau, convention industry
- OKC Chamber, business recruitment specialists and those who market
- Sporting event promoters
- Future Core to Shore businesses and residents
- Downtown hotels
- Meridian Avenue hoteliers and guests
- Downtown event attendees
- Mayor Cornett’s fit city initiative
- Oklahoma City taxpayers
This extension would fundamentally change the canal from an attraction to a pedestrian thoroughfare. It would create a situation where the canal is a preferred walking route rather than a place that has to be sought out. As pedestrian counts increase exponentially, canal development would be almost certain to follow.
We, the Board of Directors of Urban Neighbors, representing key stakeholders of our downtown, urge all of the beneficiary parties identified in this document to join us in supporting the inclusion of a canal extension in all future plans for downtown development.