Oklahoma City is vibrant with art and color this weekend.
Both the time-honored Festival of the Arts and RexFest, which is new, support charitable causes that directly benefit the arts. Admission is free at Festival of the Arts but a portion of the proceeds always serves to benefit the Arts Council's programming throughout the year. RexFest is $10 for adults, $8 for kids and those fees help underwrite the cost of having art in local classrooms through the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The events are designed to compliment each other. Pay for parking once and you're all set to walk between the two. Festival of the Arts is at Bicentennial Park, in front of Civic Center Music Hall. RexFest is across the street from John Rex Elementary at Sheridan and Walker Avenues; the school's Parent-Teacher Association is in charge of the event and has volunteers on-site to help guide your experience.
RexFest's colorful structures that look like inflated tents are visible in front of the downtown skyline; an easy landmark to reach them is that they're in front of the Devon Tower. They form the Albesila Luminarium, an exhibit created by U.K.-based Architects of Air, which has traveled the globe with 22 of these installations. Visiting is like stepping into a kaleidoscope, as light reflects off its colorful walls. The same kind of cool, calm feeling that stain glass inspires seems to live in the luminarium.
Here are three tips for visiting RexFest:
- Check the forecast: The exhibit is here today through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance here. If you have a weather app that shows a time with less wind than others throughout the day, choose that time for your ticket order. Check directly with the venue before arrival to make sure the installation is ready for visitors; it will shut down during high winds.
- Prepare your child: Photos of the luminarium can have the appearance of a bounce house but this isn't that. Running isn't permitted inside and the floor isn't a trampoline. It's actually a meditative-type experience that's very peaceful. I know my children do better with ideas like that if they're told in advance and we have the car ride to discuss appropriate behavior. It's tempting to run in there because there are open spaces with bright colors but that doesn't go well with people reclining on the floor or trying to meditate. An adult has to stay with a child at all times. It's fun to walk through but kids can save their energy and outdoor voices for the Festival of the Arts that's on closed-off streets.
- Take off your shoes and leave your stroller outside: There's a rack outside where you can leave your shoes. Know that you'll have to take them off before going inside and tell your children, especially if you have one like my toddler who struggles with that. Jeans with rivets aren't prohibited but the staff does mention just being mindful of the fact that some sharp edges can mar the floor. Stroller parking is available there too.
One great aspect of RexFest for families is that it's a calm experience, which I wasn't expecting, especially in contrast to the Festival of the Arts, which features live music and art tents full of beautiful things to see. Instead of everyone wanting to go different directions, the distractions are fewer inside the exhibition.
Once kids get used to being inside, they may want to run into different areas and through its tunnels, but knowing that they have to stay beside, walk and be calm is unlike most children's venues, which can be really positive. Staying just with my children and asking "What do you think of this?" as they saw the different light and color variations and felt the temperature drop from outdoors made for a memorable visit.
After RexFest, we walked over to the Festival of the Arts and bought a street food dinner, saw dancers perform and admired gorgeous art from artists in our city and from far away.
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May your weekend be full of art and good living.