Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

2017-04-25 Festival of the Arts - photo by Dennis Spielman

Festival of the Arts

Oklahoma City’s rite of spring, The Festival of the Arts, is a community celebration of the visual arts, performing arts, and culinary arts. In this video, I share stories from patrons of the festival to share a community point of view on the popular art festival. This video does use some clips from my documentary, Inviting Art, and includes some parts that didn’t make it in the film.

Festival of the Arts is home to over 100 artists with media forms that include oils, water, drawing and printmaking, photography, clay, glass, sculpture, fiber, jewelry, wood, leather, and two and three-dimensional works. Throughout the festival, the artists will be there personally to answers your questions and discuss their work.

From appetizers to desserts, the Festival is a celebration of the culinary arts as well! Various vendors bring their specialties to the International Food Row and throughout the grounds. Each food vendor is partnered with a local arts organization, so each bite you take supports the arts in central Oklahoma!

The 2018 Festival of the Arts will take place April 24-29.


If you love making art a destination in your travels, then check out my new series, Colorful Escapes!

Kwan's Kitchen Lobby - photo by Dennis Spielman

Kwan’s Kitchen

Get to know the French Chinese restaurant, Kwan’s Kitchen, in Oklahoma City. Mary Jia, Pak Kwan Keong, Zhander P’ng, Donald Kerr, Taylor Gilstrap, and Kim He all explain why you don’t need your passport – just an appetite – to come visit.

This is a unique feature piece for Uncovering Oklahoma for two reasons. First, it features six interviews talking about one place, which in the past the most I’ve had was three people. Second, it’s the first time I did an interview not in English. I had to come up with a solution on the spot, so Zhander translated for me and afterward, provided a dub of the lines in English. I edited the video NPR style where the first few words were in Cantonese and it crossfades into English.

Kwan's Kitchen - photo by Dennis Spielman

If you haven’t already, please go visit my new series, Colorful Escapes. There are some exciting new rewards for backers.

Support The First Season of Colorful Escapes

Colorful Escapes is a travel series where art is the destination I’m producing with host, Heide Brandes. The series highlights art galleries, art museums, public art, and artist studios, as well as restaurants and hotels with an emphasis on art. Basically, if it’s creative and artistic, we’ll visit it. The show will be filmed with a road trip styling, documenting colorful sights along the way.

Art has become a huge factor for economic development with small towns being relativized because of their creativity. In a study led by Americans for the Arts, nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015. Despite the power of the arts, there aren’t many travel shows dedicated to the subject and we want to change that.

With your support, we’re going to show you that art isn’t just for some museum in New York City or Paris, but sometimes, you can find art in an alley or in nature. Become a backer on Kickstarter and help us make this show a reality.

-The Test Pilot-

While Heide and I have experience with travel shows and writing, we filmed a test pilot of the show to give you an idea what Colorful Escapes will be like and for us to test some things out. Above is the 4K version of the Norman, Oklahoma episode, minus our Kickstarter pitch. We’ve definitely taken notes and plan to amp up our game when we hit the road.

However, as we mentioned in our Kickstarter video, this isn’t the first project Heide and Dennis have worked on together. Below are our videos on Davis, Oklahoma done for Uncovering Oklahoma.

-Goals & Rewards-

For our first season, we’re keeping our plans realistic and simple. We want to film between 6 and 15 episodes for the first season, with each episode running under 30-minutes. The initial goal of $5,000 will allow us to film three cities in Texas – Dallas, Austin, and Marfa. If this is the only goal we hit, we’ll include Oklahoma City and Tulsa on our own time/dime and with our Norman episode, we’ll at least have six episodes.

Additional stretch goals will allow us to include more states, typically covering two large cities and a small town in each state.

Stretch Goal #1 $9,000 – New Mexico
Coming from Marfa, Texas we’ll visit Rosewell, head up to Santa Fe, then Taos.

Stretch Goal #2 $14,000 – Oklahoma and Arkansas
If we reach our ultimate stretch goal, we’ll visit Denver, Colorado and then we’ll visit Arkansas for Bentonville and Eureka Springs.

Executive Producer Reward Locations
We have four Executive Producer rewards where this person gets to pick a city for us to highlight in the continental U.S. There is also a chance for bonus episodes depending on connections with Convention & Visitors Bureaus.

By becoming a backer on Kickstarter, you can get one of the following rewards.

  • $1 Project Updates
  • $5 Early Access to Weekly Update Video
  • $15 Digital Download of Season 1
  • $25 Bonus Content
  • $50 Thank You Credit
  • $100 Autographed Blu-Ray (Limited to 100)
  • $500 Story Time
  • $1,000 A Colorful Party
  • $1,500 Dinner with Us
  • $2,000 Postcard Collector
  • $2,500 Guest Speaker
  • $3,000 Executive Producer

    Details can be found here.

    -How You Can Help-

    The best way you can help us make Colorful Escapes a reality is by becoming a backer on Kickstarter and encouring your friends to do the same. The next best thing you can do is to follow us on all of our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. We’ll be sharing our adventures as we have them.

    -FAQ-

    When/where will the series premiere?
    Our goal is to give our supporters download access by September 2018. As for when and where it will air for the public, we don’t know. Ideally, after the season is complete, we would love to sell it as an exclusive original series to the likes of Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. We’re funding this season via Kickstarter to have complete control of the production.

    When do you plan to start filming?
    Filming will begin in late May, after our campaign ends on Sunday, May 6 at 9:30 am! We’ll be working on our travel plans in conjunction with how well the campaign goes.

    What will happen to Uncovering Oklahoma?
    Dennis will still continue to update Uncovering Oklahoma while on the road. While there won’t be any videos from him during the filming of this project, he’ll feature guest videos. When he returns home, he’ll resume filming local stories.

    Visit Colorful Escapes on Kickstarter for more information and to support a new travel show!

  • Vacca Territory - photo by Dennis Spielman

    Vacca Territory

    In Yukon, Vacca Territory crafts handmade small batch Italian semifreddo (ice cream), specialty coffees, cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches, scones, muffins, cookies, and more. In this interview, Mike Gray talks about the creamery and coffeehouse located on Route 66.

    Cinnamon Rolls at Vacca Territory - photo by Dennis Spielman

    I personally had both a mocha and the peanut butter ice cream, which you can see pictured in the video thumbnail. They were delicious! If you find yourself in Yukon or doing a Route 66 road trip, give the whole building they’re in a visit. There’s another restaurant, Yocal, that I’ve heard good things about, but they are in the process of moving to a bigger spot in the same building, so there may be another story soon.

    Sarah Day-Short, Alexis Austin, and Debra Ashley at Chromatic Ritual - photo by Dennis Spielman

    Chromatic Ritual

    The women artists of Oklahoma group, Fringe, will have a new gallery space at Verbode, a residential real estate brokerage located on Automobile Alley in downtown Oklahoma City. Verbode will host quarterly art shows over the next year highlighting the work of Fringe member artists. The collaboration between Verbode and Fringe makes local art accessible to a broader audience.

    Verbode is hosting the first show, Chromatic Ritual, until June 1, and features the work of Sarah Day-Short, Debra Ashley, and Alexis Austin. Sarah Day-Short is a mixed media abstract artist specializing in highly saturated, colorful acrylic paintings with metallic elements. Debra Ashley layers glass to create simple, elegant forms with contrasting dimensions of color and light. Alexis Austin paints on different types of textiles, resulting in intriguing, textural artwork.

    Fringe is a collective of professional women artists in Oklahoma working in a variety of media and styles. Fringe members nurture and empower one another while gaining visibility and creating opportunities for women artists.

    Fringe artists will donate a portion of all art sales from all four shows to The Homeless Alliance. The gallery events are made possible by the generous support from Citizens Bank of Edmond.

    Verbode is located at 415 North Broadway, Suite 101 in Oklahoma City, in the TAP Architecture Building. Chromatic Ritual opens March 29, 2018, and closes June 1, 2018. Visitors can view the show Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information about Fringe and its member artists, visit fringeok.com. For more information about Verbode, visit verbodegroup.com.

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