The Festival of the Arts is under way, filling downtown with inspiration, imagination and indulgence 

Festival of the Arts
11 a.m.-9 p.m. today-Saturday,
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Downtown Oklahoma City

To mark its 44th year, Festival of the Arts, organized by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, honors its history while exhibiting new events and attractions.

Today through Sunday, more than 140 artists will showcase their works, and organizers expect more than 750,000 throughout the six-day event.

Artists will showcase visual works each day while scores of musicians, dancers and entertainers perform on several stages scattered throughout Festival Plaza, Stage Center and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

For the first two days of the festival, Jason Hackenwerth of New York City will walk around the grounds with one of his balloon sculptures. Hackenwerth, who is also debuting an exhibit this weekend at City Arts Center, will show of his roaming work from 1-2 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. today, weather permitting.

"(Hackenwerth's sculptures) are really something that is unusual and innovative. We think festivalgoers will be surprised to see these sculptures walking around and even more surprised to learn that these sculptures are made of balloons," said Emily Reagan, the Arts Council's communications director.

Also new to the festival is Six-Day Cellars, a wine and rest area, located indoors at the Stage Center's Arena Theatre, 400 W. Sheridan.

"This is the first time we are selling wine at the festival "¦ people can bring their festival food in there and rest and get out of the sun or bad weather, drink some wine, eat some food," Reagan said.

The Six-Day Cellars space is also hosting "rethink recycle redesign," a new juried art exhibition and sale, which turns repurposed materials into art and promotes green design. The exhibition started with dissertation idea and curator Jacine Arias said her hope was to educate the public of the importance of recycling and repurposing while also giving artists an opportunity to explore beyond creative boundaries.

"The challenge (for the artists) was to take things that would be normally thrown away, something considered trash, and turning it into something else," Arias said.

The collection represents 21 artists who created pieces that range from furniture and lamps to sculpture and wall art. While this is Arias' first time to present "rethink recycle redesign" at Festival of the Arts, it's the second time she has challenged artists to rethink their use of materials, especially those that might be thrown away. Last year, her "rethink recycle redesign" concept was part of a fundraiser for the Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery and Sustainability OKC.

"I became very passionate about (this topic) after reading an article in Vanity Fair by Al Gore about the climate and everything that is going on, and I think making that part of my thesis made it interesting and would challenge me to learn about it myself," she said.

Arias is excited about the breadth of work at this year's festival and said one of the most creative pieces in the collection is a toy car made out of plastic bottles.

In January, the Festival of the Arts Food Committee held a three-day blind taste test and selected 28 food vendors to offer more than 120 culinary arts items.

Committee members evaluated the food on taste, presentation, cost, portion size and previous sales, while keeping in mind the need to include unique and diverse dining options.

International Food Row features festival favorites like Indian Tacos, Craig and Carter's Fish Tacos, and Bodacious Burritos. The signature dessert Strawberries Newport also returns but will introduce two new food items: chocolate-covered strawberries and shaved ice with strawberry pur

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