OKC Outlets Is Refreshed With New-Fashioned Mural

July 25, 2022

Published by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber in VelocityOKC.com

Written by Erick Perry on July 22, 2022

Chamber member OKC Outlets is now home to the latest work of muralist Carlos Barboza. The outlet shops commemorated the new “Fashion through the Ages” mural with a ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside Greater Oklahoma City Chamber staff on July 21.

The artwork includes references to the trends of yesteryear and beyond, while bringing a contemporary aspect to Oklahoma City’s sole outlet shopping center.

“We’re a shopping center. This is where you learn, and shop for your trendiest outfits. Right? We wanted to do something that made sense for our shopping center, but was still beautiful and colorful, and spoke a little bit to who we are,” Jeanette Smith, General Manager of OKC Outlets said.

The mural comes on the tail-end of improvements to the center’s food court plaza area. Smith said the mural piece was simply, “the cherry on top.”

“I think people enjoy the open air atmosphere. It can be challenging during weather but I do feel that, generally speaking, the public does enjoy the outside atmosphere.”

The food court serves as a place for patrons to cool down (or warm up, depending on the season), and refuel before finishing out their shopping. The area just outside of the building allows for additional dining and incorporates a turfed median, outfitted with seating to serve as an outdoor lounge under the center’s oversized shade umbrellas. Smith said the outlets’ many improvements are all meant to make things more comfortable for the customers. 

Carlos Barboza, a Costa-Rican-born, Oklahoma City-based visual artist was selected for the commission of the mural after drawing attention to himself in an Oklahoma State Fair mural competition, sponsored by OKC Outlets in 2019, finishing in first place.

“When we started thinking about doing a mural, we felt that we really wanted to reach out to him and see what his vision was. We were really impressed by what he brought back to the table.”

The “Fashion through the Ages” mural depicts out-of-this-world models, contrasting backgrounds, weaving in and out of generations past; illuminating the shopping center’s interior corridor. The multi-colored palette of the painting is familiar to the artist.

“Because of the wall’s length, my first instinct was to design a mural that told a story that began on one end and progressed to the other,” muralist, Carlos Barboza said.

“Thematically, I liked playing with the idea of expressing ourselves with the clothes we wear and how each generation was defined by that. This led into telling the story of fashion through the decades and how our culture evolved from suits, to bright windbreakers, and finally— to technology.”

Barboza’s colorful work has become well-known around Oklahoma City. The artist’s murals have been included in projects like Plaza Walls in the city’s Plaza District, and the recent erection of the east side’s Homeland grocery store.

“When starting a new project, I’ve always had a bad time acknowledging that I can paint anything. So, I found I work best by narrowing down the possibilities and playing in one sandbox. I look for that thematic element that strikes me personally, or a concept that feels fresh and I just take it apart and reconstruct it until something sticks.”

“This is the most difficult and frustrating part of the process for me because your only limit is your imagination. But once that creative gauntlet is over with, that’s when I can just show up and play. The execution and installation of a mural is still the place where I’m at my most confident and most full of joy.”

A photo of Barboza’s work was even included in the 2022 State of the City address presentation by Oklahoma City Mayor, David Holt.

Photo of mural by Carlos Barboza displayed behind City of Oklahoma City Mayor, David Holt, during the 2022 State of the City address.

Photo of mural by Carlos Barboza displayed behind City of Oklahoma City Mayor, David Holt, during the 2022 State of the City address.

It’s safe to say Barboza’s work played a role in Oklahoma City receiving accolades for Best City for Street Art in 2021 and 2022.

“I’m very proud of my work and I can only guess that the passion I have for it resonates with people. But, I also think that I entered the scene at a time when very few local artists were playing with realism. So, I’m sure that helped a little to shine a light on the work.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony on July 21 celebrated the completion of Barboza’s most recent artwork. Customers joined OKC Outlets and Chamber staff for refreshments from some of the outlets’ newest food court vendors and live music by Stephen Salewon.

Smith said the mural unveiling wasn’t the only exciting thing coming to the outlets.

Puma, Victoria’s Secret, and Windsor are all planned to arrive at the shopping center before the end of the year. The outlets are also planning deals for tax-free weekend, August 5-7, to coincide with the back-to-school shopping season.

You can find more information on the OKC Outlets at www.okcoutlets.com.