Oklahoma City has endless ways for parents to expose their kids to the arts. Of course our city is home to award-winning museums and regularly scheduled special arts events, but it’s also a city bursting with public art. Downtown Oklahoma City and surrounding neighborhoods are packed with beautiful wall murals that can teach kids a lot about creativity and expression. See the entire album of must-see murals here.
Here's a short tour through some of our favorite murals in Oklahoma City’s urban core. We’ve included short interviews with two local artists to help spark even more creativity at home. We suggest you visit these murals with your kids this spring to get some inspiration for your next home art project.
Amanda Bradway and her husband own DNA Galleries in the Plaza District. In addition to creating this mural outside her store, Amanda is responsible for an impressive mural on Western Avenue.
MFM: How did you get interestedin art?
AB:All of my friends were into art and when I was in high school but I had been too afraid to ever try my hand at it since I had never been taught. Eventually I decided it didn’t matter that I didn’t have any experience; it was something I wanted to do for myself. Art began as an outlet for me that eventually turned into a source of healing and ultimately my great passion.
MFM: What was it like to tackle a project as large as a mural?
AB:The Western Avenue mural was a collaboration with two of my favorite local artists. It was one of those projects that seem just outside of your realm of expertise. I don’t know why but when I was asked to be a part of it I said yes immediately without thinking it fully through. It was like the quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that says "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough!"
So we all took the plunge and figured out how to technically execute the piece. Every single day we worked I would wake up early to be the first one to get down to the site. That energy never left me the whole two weeks that we worked and made it hard to get to sleep at night. I’ve decided anything that makes me feel that excited and energized is the project for me. I've been working with one of my collaborators, Erin Cooper, on pitching a few more pieces that will hopefully happen in the next year.
MFM: How does it make you feel when people see your art?
AB:It's always amazing to me how art brings unity and common ground to people. At one of my recent exhibits I was telling the people who bought my work the meaning behind each piece. We were all stunned by the amount of ways each piece connected to their own experience. We're not so different as human beings and art is a good way to remind ourselves that we share the same hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities.
MFM: How do you want people to feel when they’re in the presence of your art?
AB:I want them to connect to how it makes them feel and hopefully it can be a healing experience. A lot of my work recently has been about eradicating fear and stepping into your personal power.
Julie “Juuri” Robertson is a Japanese American artist with a unique aesthetic and no fear of big projects. She’s responsible for this stunning piece along Western Avenue.
MFM: How did you get interestedin art?
J:Since the time I was tiny, I was always drawing, coloring and making my own illustrated books and paper sculptures. No paper or cardboard in the whole house was safe from me! I'd harvest everything to create my projects.
MFM:What was it like to tackle a project as large as the mural off Western?
J:It was actually my first mural ever! I was daunted but excited. I was surprised at how easy it was to paint on the wall. The texture was perfect. I had also planned my colors and sketch extensively before I started and that was a big plus. The only bad thing was the heights. It was so scary standing on top of scaffolding, looking down on the street.
MFM:How does it make you feel when people see your art?
J:Working on the mural, I had so many people come up to me and tell me how awesome it was, and how great it made them feel living in the neighborhood. It's priceless to me when I can create something that will bring happiness to tons of people for a long time. I'm delighted each time I see someone tagging the mural on Instagram, making it a part of their day and their creativity.
MFM:How do you want people to feel when they’re in the presence of your art?
J:I read an article once that said that when people see art that they like, it stimulates the same part of the brain that reacts to seeing someone they love or are physically attracted to. That's such a powerful emotion, if I can make people feel so positive and radiant looking at my art, there's nothing better. I also include a lot of symbolism in my pieces, and am very happy when people form their own ideas about what the paintings "mean." They mean different things to different people. It's interesting to see how profoundly people can react to the message in the work.
Click here to see an album of all the murals we recommend seeing in OKC.
Special thanks to our models: Connor, Ian and Cade Cuomo and Preston and Makenzie Clements.