Archive for January, 2011
Three years ago today, I met the Plaza District.
Seeing a posting for a program coordinator position with the Plaza District Association, I sent in my feeble resume only a year and a half out of college. I had an interview the next week. On January 12th, 2008 I drove into Oklahoma City, and honestly thought I had found the Plaza District when I drove through Plaza Court (cue foreshadowing of identity confusion). Realizing this wasn’t the place; I meandered my way over to NW 16th street.
I found the location of the interview, and then took a moment to drive through the district. I fell in love. Empty, recently renovated buildings, Lyric Theatre, and wide sidewalks. It wasn’t a blank canvas…it had a solid sketch.
In the interview, I learned Lyric Theatre had just opened, Estrella Evans had just purchased the salon building, Dylan and Amanda Bradway had just moved in and PhotoArt and the Everything Goes Dance Studio had been in the district at least two years. I saw opportunities for artists, I saw the opportunity for OKC to embrace it’s own diverse culture and most importantly I realized that community was the only way to make this happen.
It was only three years ago, but it seems like ages. Those empty buildings are now full, our sidewalks are full with people on second Fridays, and we have a close-knit community of truly talented and amazing people. That progress is hardly thanks to me, but to the large handful of people who paved the way for the Plaza District, those who chose to open their business here, and those who support these amazing businesses and our events.
When traveling, you’re always attracted to areas and districts. Maybe it’s their benches and lights, the historic buildings, cute restaurants and hip coffee shops…but really what makes those places attractive is the energy behind them. The people behind the counters, the residents who live near, the regular customers hanging around…it all comes down to energy created by community.
Yes, I do happen to have the greatest job in the world. I could write pages on what I do and why I love it, but it would all come back to community. All the money in the world cannot create it, all the strategic planning will not sustain it–it is done through a community of people who have a passion for making a place, a place you want to be.
So, thank you Plaza District. I love helping to make this place, a place you want to be. It has been an amazing three years and I am looking forward to years of Plaza goodness ahead!
Plaza Mom, Executive Director- Kristen Vails
This Friday, the Plaza District Gallery is pleased to host artist Matt Josef. A native Oklahoman, Matt has returned to his home state and will show recent work at the Plaza District Gallery for LIVE on the Plaza. Matt’s work has been exhibited in galleries and festival across the country, and we are pleased to welcome him back to Oklahoma!
The Plaza District Gallery is located at 1618 Gatewood Ave, upstairs of Midwest Media & Marketing. Be sure to stop by throughout LIVE on the Plaza for the artist reception!
For more information about Matt’s work, click here
LIVE on the Plaza 2nd Friday
January 14th 7-11pm
1700 Block NW 16th (1725 NW 16th, OKC, OK 73106)
The Plaza District kicks off a new year in LIVE on the Plaza, the second Friday artwalk bringing Oklahoma City’s local, creative flavor to the public with art events, live music and more! LIVE on the Plaza 2011 is brought to you by Fowler Volkswagen, and we are excited about this new partnership! Join us all Friday, January 14th from 7-11pm to kick off the new year! We are looking forward to bring you new businesses, new events and more local goodness to the Plaza District this year!
DNA Galleries: new work by Ruth Ann Borum
Collected Thread: Mango Tree Jewelry feature
Paula & Co: 3rd Annual Chilli Cookoff
1708: coffee and live music by Matt Lowery, 8pm
Warpaint Clothing: Art of Lisa Lee and Anna Lee
Plaza District Gallery: featured artist Matt Josef
Everything Goes Dance: Salsa Social 9m
Lyric Theatre: Lyric Understudies Kickoff Party
Coffy’s Café: open mic
Bad Granny’s Bazaar: Live music by Cultured Rhythm
Open houses: Curiouser & Curiouser, Bad Granny’s Bazaar, PhotoArt Studios, No Regrets Tattoo
Outside of DNA and Collected, check out the newest Volkswagen cars from Fowler Volkswagen of Norman. Also pick up your free Vdub Club card with participating businesses in the Plaza District for discounts for your shopping!
DNA Galleries will host featured artist Ruth Ann Borum who recent work includes abstract, organic wood burnings. For those familiar with Ruth Ann’s work, the rendering of her biotic plant like forms are especially complimentary to this new medium. Stop by DNA for the artist reception as well as local shopping for artist made merchandise!
Collected Thread will be showcasing jewelry by Annah Chakola Ramsey.and her line of handmade jewelry, The Mango Tree. Be sure to check out the vast assortment of handmade merchandise throughout Collected Thread as well!
Next, walk over to Warpaint Clothing and see the works of Lisa Lee, and special guest Anna Lee. Their exhibit, “No Relation” is a photography and mixed media show. The show will include new and old works from the artist Lisa Lee and featuring some of the best works of Anna Lee’s extensive portfolio.
Next door, 1708 will be open with free Café Evoke coffee and live music by Matt Lowery starting at 8pm! Meanwhile, Paula & Co Realtors will be open next door for their 3rd Annual Chilli Cookoff. Stop in to judge the goods and visit with the crew at Paula & Co!
Just around the corner from No Regrets Tattoo, the Plaza District Association opens the office gallery with guest artist Matt Josef. Matt returns to his home state of Oklahoma with new work. Primarily a figurative oil painter, Matt creates work that convesy a story or concept through the his paintings of children and women, and the eyes that tell the story. The Plaza District Gallery is located down Gatewood Ave upstairs above Midwest Media & Marketing.
Across the street the Everything Goes Dance Studio will host a Latin Social Dance. There will be a free salsa class 9:30-10. The Dance Social will be from 10pm-2am with $5.00 cover charge. Join in on the salsa and get your feet moving!
Next door Lyric Understudies will kickoff the 2011 Lyric Theatre season with a party for theatre patrons. The party will feature catered food, a cash bar, live music and information about the fabulous upcoming season and opportunities to join Lyric Understudies, who cultivate a love of theatre and passion for Lyric in the Oklahoma City community. Social events are planned throughout the year that coincide with Lyric productions. Membership is open to anyone 40 and under who enjoys a night out with good food, friends, and excellent theatre. Perks include discounted tickets and parties at Oklahoma City’s best venues. Sign up during LIVE!
Bad Granny’s Bazaar will host live music by a band from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Bricktown called CULTURED RHYTHM. Come in and listen to great music while shopping the store, full of new vendors and artists.
Other LIVE on the Plaza activities include:
Coffy’s Café: open mic
Curiouser & Curiouser: open house
Bad Granny’s Bazaar: open house, wine, cheese and new vendors and artists!
PhotoArt Studios: open house
Hope to see you out Friday, January 14th!!
This post is to open conversation on public transit between neighborhood commercial districts. Recently, in meeting with fellow district leaders, our conversation turned to one of biggest obstacles– transit from downtown to our districts, as well as between our districts.
Those who have followed the MAPS 3 transit development are all well aware the streetcar will serve the downtown area. That still leaves the neighborhood commercial districts, such as Plaza District, Paseo, Western Ave, and Stockyards City…out of the picture. The problem with this is, these districts are what give this city it’s character. These are the places visitors want to see when in our city. The city, really should be boasting these areas in pride.
Our city has a great support for our local districts through funding, BIDs, streetscapes and resources…however, to really keep our districts progressing, people need to be able to access them from downtown. In May, I volunteered for the National Main Streets Conference at the information table. I was telling everyone about all of our great districts, but telling them how to get there just left them confused and discouraged. Right now a visitor would literally have to call a cab all day long to spend time in all of our commercial districts. It was beyond frustrating.
So, what are our options? Do we have options?
What will happen to those trolleys that use to run downtown? When the modern streetcar makes a stop in Midtown, could a trolley deliver people to Plaza District, up and down Western, over to Paseo and back to Midtown? If the modern streetcar stops in Film Row, could a trolley deliver people to Stockyards City? If funding is the issue, it might be the commercial districts themselves would be willing to band together to support the trolleys.
So, just wanted to start a conversation to see if any of you have ideas, comments, suggestions and thoughts. The Plaza District was formed as the end of the trolley line in the 1930s, it would be rather fitting to have trolleys serve our neighborhood again.
What do you think?
In fall 2011, we unofficially kicked off our new membership program. The membership was developed to give all of our faithful supporters a chance to donate to our efforts as well as plug into our community at the same time.We are thrilled to officially kickoff our membership drive in 2011 with the help of our first members! A huge thanks to the following for your support and dedication to our progress. We are so excited for 2011, with the introduction of four new businesses (to be announced!), exciting partnerships and plans for events and much more! THANK YOU to these members, and sign up today to keep the momentum going!
John L Belt
John & Susan Hogan
The Plaza District Association is a 501c3 organization working to revitalize the Plaza District. If it weren’t for the association, the Plaza District would remain the neighborhood blight it once was. Today, the Plaza District Association works to support and recruit local business, promote the district through events such as LIVE on the Plaza, the annual festival and the Urban Pioneer Awards. Additionally the association maintains the street so it will remain clean and safe for you! The Plaza District is an advocate for Oklahoma City’s creative, local voice and we work to progress the district as Oklahoma City’s local flavor. If you enjoy the district and the progress we have made, please consider becoming a Plaza District member. Membership includes many benefits to keep you in the loop, to outfit you with Plaza gear and the proceeds go directly to supporting the Plaza District cause.
Benefits of annual membership:
-Discount on street vending and festival
-Invitations to special events and parties
-Invitation to Plaza members party
-Notice of discounts and special programs of Plaza merchants
-All of the above
-All of the above
-Listing on website
-All of the above
-Website listing under “Patron”
-Keep it Local card