All the Right Moves 

Arts Council OKC’s Art Moves program brings performance right to the people wherever they are.

click to enlarge Visual artist Jasmine Jones.

Chase Kerby

Visual artist Jasmine Jones.

We tend to think of art existing in certain intended spaces. Paintings are meant to hang in art galleries and museums, films are meant to be seen inside specialized theaters and live music is meant to take place on a stage inside of a bar or music venue.

But why can’t any space be an artistic space? Why can’t you take a musician or a painter and drop them into an area where people are already milling about? More importantly, how does the space itself change when you suddenly introduce live music or painting or dance into an environment where that kind of creative energy is normally absent?

These questions formed the basis of Arts Council Oklahoma City’s long standing Art Moves program, a daily showcase of artists of all stripes, from singers to string quartets to live painters and visual artists, in often unexpected locations all over town, demonstrating their crafts openly for flash audiences and passersby.

According to Art Moves Director Chase Kerby, the only criteria to be included is creativity.

click to enlarge Magician Michael King. - CHASE KERBY
  • Chase Kerby
  • Magician Michael King.

“If it’s art, I try to put it out there,” he said. “We’ve had street art, musicians, jugglers, everything. I’ve had a dance company come out and tie aerial things to the rafters in Leadership Square and do spin dance. It’s pretty wild.”

Since taking over as director for Art Moves in 2017, Kerby’s mission has been to expand not only the program’s already enormous roster of artists and musicians, but also the diversity of city locations from which to host the daily show.

“For the longest time, it was predominantly happening downtown,” he said, “and one of the things I’ve been saying a lot is that we’re the Oklahoma City Arts Council, not just the Downtown Arts Council. So one of the things I’m really trying to do lately is to have Art Moves represented in places like The Plaza or during First Friday in The Paseo. The idea is to look at places where we have a rapport, but also where there’s a guaranteed audience.”

That search for new and diverse audiences has taken Art Moves into some unexpected and surprisingly receptive spaces over the years.

“I actually got us into St. Anthony’s,” he said. “I just went in and met with the marketing director there and she loved the idea. She showed me different locations all over the hospital and we ended up having singers performing in a walkway next to the cafeteria, and it was great. I’d really like to get us back into St. Anthony again, actually.”

COVID-19 threw a wrench into Kerby’s efforts to significantly expand Art Moves around the city, not only making it impossible to invite performers into a delicate space like a hospital, but generally deterring audiences and gatherings across the board.

During that time, as with most other aspects of life, the program went virtual.

“I think we actually only missed one day because of COVID,” Kerby explained. “The day that everything really shut down, I think we had to cancel that performance, but then we got everything set up to go virtual really quickly and we kept it going every day.”

click to enlarge Cellist Sam Kahre. - CHASE KERBY
  • Chase Kerby
  • Cellist Sam Kahre.

As the world still tentatively limps back toward some sense of public normalcy, Kerby has begun attempting to not only get Art Moves back into all of those former public spaces, but also to ramp up the program’s expansion into more diverse and widespread locations across the whole of the city.

As longtime Arts Council Executive Director Peter Dolese steps down and newly-announced Executive Director Angela Cozby establishes herself in the role, all hands in the organization are focused on carrying ACOKC into the future and dramatically widening the scope of the city’s arts community. For programs like Art Moves, that means figuring out the best balance between virtual and in-person daily performances, but also looking at the changing dynamics of the city and its various different neighborhoods and audiences.

“We’ve started doing things like jazz at Eastside Pizza and Culture Coffee, and I’m looking into things that we could do around Capitol Hill,” Kerby told me. “I really want this to be for the whole city.”

No matter what, Kerby says his goal – and his daily challenge – is always just to figure out the right combination of artist and area.

“The number one philosophy I go by is to always make sure that the performance is additive to the spot, never subtractive or obstructive,” he explained. “When it’s good for the artists, when you can pair them with a venue that makes sense, then you know that it’ll be good for the people passing by as well.”

To keep up with the schedule of daily artist showcases and where they’ll be performing around OKC, or to submit for your own chance to perform your art publicly as part of Art Moves, visit

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