Original Flow didn't set out to create a series of free, family-friendly mini-festivals in downtown Oklahoma City's newest and largest green space.
But the OKC poet, producer and hip-hop frontman is thrilled to see how the Color of Art — a series of growing outdoor events that merge local music, dance and visual arts into seasonal Sunday evening immersive experiences — has grown over the past few years since it moved to Scissortail Park.
"The three C's for the Color of Art are culture, creativity and community, and so it just has aligned perfectly with what they're trying to promote at Scissortail Park as well. ... I'm just grateful to see this show expand, but I definitely wouldn't have believed it was possible," said Flow, who was born in OKC as Christopher G. Acoff.
"Just with a little idea that we had in a cramped room ... now it's turning into something truly magnificent."
This year's Color of Art series kicks off at 6 p.m. May 22 with live music by Santiago Ramones, Derek Cantu, CAJ and Finite Galaxy with DJ Dee Rock. Hosted by Original Flow, the event also will feature dancers from OKC's Groovemeant Community and live painting and visual art by Daniel Acuna.
"Color of Art is one of my favorite events we’ve had in the park over the last two years. The music, dance and vibrancy it brings to Scissortail is fantastic," said Maureen Heffernan, CEO of the Scissortail Park Foundation, in an email.
"We hope Color of Art stays and grows at the park for many years to come. Having community groups help us program and offer wonderful events like this is what (our slogan) ‘Scissortail Park — For Everyone’ is all about. “
How did the Color of Art get started?
Original Flow and his bandmates in the experimental hip-hop group The Fervent Route actually started the Color of Art in a much different venue: inside the snug confines of Saints Pub in the Plaza District.
"They were like, Hey, you guys want to have your own event?' And we were like, 'Yeah.' ... Original Flow had one, the Lyricist Lounge, and I had the Color of Art. We both did the same things, just different nights, and we'd help each other out at both events. Then, whenever COVID happened, we couldn't do that anymore," said Acuna, an OKC painter and guitarist with The Fervent Route.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, Original Flow & The Fervent Route performed a live-stream set at Scissortail Park. Staffers there were so happy with the performance they invited the band back.
"We said, 'Well, we'll do one better,' so we introduced the idea of the Color of Art to Scissortail Park. So, that's what started our collaboration," Flow said.
After hosting multiple installments in late 2020, Flow and his team planned a full Color of Art season through the warmer months of 2021.
"Starting out it was a little strange, because we were turning an indoor show into an outdoor show with a larger stage and a bigger fan base. So, we were like, 'Man, what do we do?' So, it started off pleasantly small, but we were surprised with the turnout," he said. "Scissortail Park actually created the event page for us that time for the first time, and we had over 100-plus (people) RSVP. And we were like, 'Whoa, this is crazy.' ... It went really well, and then following up to that next year, we started adding more things to the showcase."
What can people expect from the Color of Art events?
The 2022 Color of Art season will include mini-festivals from 6 to 9 p.m. May 22, June 26, July 17, Aug. 28 and Oct. 9 on and around the Love’s Travel Stops Stage at Scissortail Park.
For people who are just discovering Color of Art, Flow said they can expect "an entire event."
"You're gonna have break dancers showing up, a live DJ, so you got a kids flipping everywhere. You've got great music playing by live musicians, and there's going to be live painting. ... And artists are going to be showcasing their art as well," he said.
"They're gonna have a full experience of everything that Oklahoma City has to offer as far as talent. We range from doing a country show to doing jazz to rock to R&B to hip hop. It's just one of those experiences that people don't forget."
Although he hosts the event and he and his bandmates are ready to fill in for any musicians who have to drop out, Flow said he hasn't scheduled himself to play Color of Art this season, preferring to showcase other local performers.
"Most importantly, I wanted to give shine to a lot of the people here in the city that don't normally get the appreciation that they deserve. This month, we have a really good lineup," he said.
The event has grown organically over the past couple of years, Acuna said, and it's kept its laid-back vibe.
"This event is run by artists and musicians ... so we bring our experience to an event and have it run in a way that we feel it's more comfortable and relaxing and less stressful," he said. "It very DIY, and we just go with it and we see what we can do next time. So, we improve it slow like that ... and I think it's very approachable to a lot of people."
Event gives children chances to try art
For the host, the option for children to try their hand painting with provided materials has been one of his favorite additions to Color of Art.
"The kids will literally line up at the park to try to sit down and try to paint on a canvas. It was very interesting. ... I'm like, 'Man, I thought these kids were like tablets and phones now,' so I was super surprised that so many people were just involved with trying to create something. And they get a chance to take it home," said Flow, adding that the organizers are accepting donations and seeking volunteers for the events.
The frontman said the burgeoning interactive children's art part has supplied him with one of his favorite Color of Art memories.
"This little girl, she comes up to the stage where I'm thanking everyone, and she had painted the Color of Art on the canvas that she was painting on — and I still have that painting. And I'm gonna keep it for the rest of my life, because it just absolutely inspires me to see everyone truly being inspired by the show," Flow said.
COLOR OF ART
When: 6 to 9 p.m. May 22, June 26, July 17, Aug. 28 and Oct. 9.
Where: On and around the Love’s Travel Stops Stage at Scissortail Park, 300 SW 7.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC growing Color of Art mini-fests offer free live experiences