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All kinds of art will be on display at fest

Art is one of humanity's greatest achievements.

It separates us from our less evolved cousins in the animal world. It comforts us. Inspires us. Challenges us. It can be ephemeral or eternal. We know what it is, but we can not define it. It defies classification at every turn. We try, of course, because it is in our nature to attempt to quantify the world. But art is different for everyone. Where one person sees beauty another might see banality. But that is the true magic of it. Regardless of your background, class or creed, you can find art in somethingeven if it something that no one else can find beauty in. Art is egalitarian in that way. This is the fundamental idea behind Lawton's Arts for All Festival.

Now entering its 44th year, the festival is an annual labor of love that takes place during the second weekend of May. Arts for All is a nonprofit collective of arts groups that was incorporated in 1977 with the goal of fostering Lawton's art community and raising money to keep the arts alive in the community and schools.

"What a big leap of faith to jump off and start a united arts funding organization in the middle of the prairie in 1977. That was a pretty progressive thing for Lawton to do," Bobbi Matchette said.

Matchette has been the executive director of the Arts for All Foundation for 22 years. In that time, she has seen the festival go through many incarnations, but its mission has always remained the same.

"The festival itself is an event that helps Arts for All continue its mission in the community of supporting the arts," Matchette said.

Arts for All is composed of several member groups, including the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, Wichita Wildlife Photographic Society, Lawton Fort Sill Art Council, Lawton Community Theatre and the Southwest Oklahoma Opera Guild. The group also is supported by Lawton Pro Musica, Blue Moon Productions, Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, Leslie Powell Gallery, Cameron University and Lawton Arts and Humanities Council.

"We have a lot of new members this year and I am really happy about that. It takes a while for even an old member to figure out exactly where they want to fit in at the festival, what kind of work they like to do," Matchette said.

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