Growing up in Frederick, Lawton was always in my backyard. It was the town my family and I, and my friends and their families, would come to for shopping and entertainment. In a way, Lawton was a second home because it was the place where we’d get new clothes for school or go to the movies.
When my mom and I would drive down Gore Boulevard past Cameron University, I would tell her, “Mom, I will not go to Cameron. I want to go somewhere a little further from home.” Well as fate would have it, Cameron won me over and I enrolled at the university after graduating from Frederick High School. Even though I was technically “close to home,” Cameron is where I grew into myself and learned who I was apart from my small hometown.
I graduated from Cameron in 2015 with a degree in Communication and started working for The Lawton Constitution. During my two years there, I was immersed in the Lawton “styles” scene. I was amongst some of the most talented musicians, actors and artists in our area. Getting the privilege to tell their stories and become their friend was one of the many blessings I gained from my first “adult” job.
In August of 2017, I began working for the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce as the Communications Manager. The position was much different than journalism and I was saddened to, what I felt like, “leave the styles community behind.” But this transition gave me the opportunity to serve Lawton’s arts community in a different way. I’ve been able to volunteer and help out backstage for Lawton Community Theatre productions and was asked to sit on the theatre’s board. I’ve also been appointed to the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra Board where I assist with the orchestra’s media presence.
I know Lawton is proud to be a STEM city in Oklahoma, but our thriving and immersive arts scene is an aspect of this community that should be celebrated equally. A community the size of Lawton is immensely fortunate to have an organization such as Arts for All, which is an umbrella for multiple local arts organizations and its sole purpose is to help raise funds for those member organizations. Lawton is also home to Oklahoma’s longest running community theatre — Lawton Community Theatre is currently in its 66th season. And if that’s not enough theatre for you, the Cameron University Theatre program produces four shows a year while Blue Moon Productions offers multiple productions for those searching for something a little more avant-garde. And what town of Lawton’s size says it can hear professional orchestra concerts three times a year from its own orchestra? Not many, but Lawton can because of the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra.
And Lawton would not have the arts community of the highest caliber without its exposure to fine art. The Leslie Powell Foundation Gallery hosts several exhibitions year round where locals can experience anything from sculpture to abstract to modern art. The Pride Gallery in Southwestern Medical Center gives those who may not otherwise go to an art gallery an opportunity to view quality, local art in a different capacity. The Museum of the Great Plains also plays hosts to the Terry K. Bell Gallery, which is currently housing an exhibition by Lawton’s own and nationally known artist Robert Peterson. The art program at Cameron University curates two galleries on campus — the Inasmuch Art Gallery in the McMahon Centennial Complex and the Sciences Complex Gallery, which are both filled with student art. And for a hands-on opportunity, the Lawton Fort Sill Art Council offers a free children’s workshop once a month for children and their parents to create together — a magnificent gift to the community as budget shortfalls have dwindled arts programs in schools.
There are many more artistic opportunities that Lawton has to offer. The ones mentioned above are just the highlights. I have a passion for the arts, but it’s obvious that Lawton does too; this culture should be celebrated and maintained. I encourage you that if you have a passion for something, whether it’s within the arts or not, to get involved. Join a board or find out ways to volunteer. Lawton’s arts community would not be as flourishing as it is without its dedicated volunteers. Working for your passions is one way to show you’re “Lawton Proud.”