Driving westward down Britton Road, perhaps on your way to school, you might see a pop of color just before you cross Western. Surprise at such bright hues amongst abandoned buildings whose paint has dulled is to be expected – but I assure you that you’re not just seeing things. Though you might not get a chance to look closely, what you will have passed are the remnants of the Sunny Dayz mural festival that took place on August 7th.
The festival was an all-day event that drew myriads of people throughout the day to observe live mural painting, shop local businesses’ pop-up shops, and hear live music. At the end of the day, the 39 participating artists created 31 new murals. In addition to being a wonderful showcase of local artists and entrepreneurs, the festival had a certain uniqueness about it: it featured only female and non-binary individuals. The first-of-its-kind in Oklahoma, the festival sought to empower and elevate women and non-binary artists because of the history of underrepresentation of these groups in the arts. According to Sunny Dayz’ website, only 13.7% of the artists represented in galleries in Europe and North America are women.
The positive energy that radiated off the colorful walls and amongst people made the festival a true celebration. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase and honor the incredible artists who are at a disadvantage in furthering their careers. The intricate brush strokes and pops of color that livened the walls were displays of artistry that spoke to the talents of the many featured artists. Many murals incorporated inspirational quotes and female renditions, beautifully embodying the spirit of the festival. Each brushstroke illustrated the resilience, passion, and joy of each artist, creating an immersive, inspiring display.
In the center of the festival grounds sat the pop-up shops that provided samplings of local businesses. Everything from hand-made furniture, knits, jewelry, pottery, and even candles was available to browse and purchase. The friendliness of each vendor and their excitement about their products contributed greatly to the energy of the festival. The authenticity and intention with which the various goods were made was enough to make a clay bowl seem like a novelty.
The festival uncovered many hidden gems in the OKC arts and local business communities, as well as gave these individuals a chance to share their craft on their own playing field. One might question the importance of having an exclusively female/non-binary artist showcase, yet how many renowned artists can you name who are of the aforementioned groups? Sunny Dayz sought to spark change by shining light on the talents of local artists who face more obstacles than many male artists, and I hope that more of our walls will become testaments to the talent of these artists.