For locals, the allure of Edmond, Oklahoma is no mystery. Though growing in population and blossoming in its food and entertainment scene, this upscale suburb of Oklahoma City has managed to keep a small-town persona. The cat’s out of the bag, however, with Expedia Travel counting Edmond as one of America’s most artistic towns, and now everyone can see what Edmonites have known all along—this city has more to offer than southern charm and great schools. We have culture coming out our ears!
Why Edmond Made the Cut
Keeping the criteria straightforward, Expedia chose towns based on the quantity and quality of “creative festivals, top art schools, cutting-edge productions, dynamic street art, and generous community support and patronage.” Of course, large cities like New York and Los Angeles have long cornered the market on artistic offerings, but Expedia wanted to bring something distinct to travelers with under-the-radar towns most people don’t think to consider visiting. In fact, every city on the list has a population of less than one million. Nonetheless, Expedia recognized Edmond—along with cities like Santa Fe, New Mexico, Boulder, Colorado, and Berkeley, California—as one that most contributes to the “artistic culture of our country.”
Exhibits, Live Theatre, and Art Education
When listing Edmond’s cultural draws, the article cites prominent performing arts centers like Upstage and Armstrong Auditorium, noting how they bring performing arts, music and dance to the community. Not only that, but Upstage offers classes in dance, acting, music and stage production, attempting to keep the cycle of creativity moving forward.
Highlighting the distinction between simply displaying art and purposely involving community members in artistic endeavors, Expedia makes a point to value the latter. While Edmond proudly displays “dozens of sculptures around town,” including Destiny (corner of Broadway and Campbell), Unfolding Star (E. Edwards), Kinetic Air (N. University), and Woman with Shawl (N. Broadway), places like the Academy of Classical Art, formerly the Conservatory for Classical Art, strive for interaction and offer art-centered workshops.
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For example, in June the Academy has invited Tina Garrett, a “Living Master,” to teach a three-day painting workshop for burgeoning artists or interested aficionados. Also offered are youth, teen and adult short courses designed to teach painting and drawing skills. Essentially, while this private art school expertly educates local creatives, it also goes out of its way to allow enthusiastic laymen to sharpen their skills.
Edmond’s Annual Arts Festival
Rounding out the city’s glowing qualifications is this year’s 40th Annual Downtown Edmond Arts Festival. Bringing art and business together, along with live music, tons of food and family-friendly activities, this free public event dazzles visitors and locals alike. With a spread that keeps expanding with Edmond’s growing appeal, this year’s event will extend an extra block, all the way to Campbell Street.
Surely your itch for home-grown culture will get scratched this spring—the event runs from May 4th through the 6th, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Enjoy the work of 130 artists while the kids get their faces painted and jump in a bounce house. And if that’s not enough for you, let live art demonstrations liven you up; the Oklahoma Sculpture Society, Plein AirePainters of Central Oklahoma and graffiti artist Chris Sker will be on hand to entertain.
Whether new to the city, just visiting, or have your Edmond roots firmly planted, one thing is clear—Edmond, Oklahoma has a lot to offer. Although known as an oil and gas epicenter and lauded for its abundant golf community, this city of ours brings culture to the art-starved masses. For a richer, deeper connection to creativity, all you need is a walk around town to enjoy Edmond’s sculptured beauties. You can even expand your skill set and knowledge base with classes at the Academy of Classical Art or take in a show at Upstage Theatre. Whatever your proclivities, this town aims to please.