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A hippie without the hair: Paseo artist Colin Rosebrook used to drive through the arts district to look at them. Then he joined them.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - Collin Rosebrook is uniquely qualified to rummage through the junk boxes of Paseo District history.

Dig up a few of the old pictures from the first Paseo Arts Festivals from 1976 and 1977.

Collin can identify the designer jeans he coveted as a college student, and maybe even spot some of his own work he brought to sell street side on brick and board shelving.

"It was much simpler then," he recalls. "More easy-going. I think someone wanted to go and try one of the mugs I had out for sale. So they took off and tried it and brought it back."

When he moved to this old dry cleaners 25 years ago, the neighborhood was still a little dodgy.

A lot of abandoned buildings surrounded his studio.

A local TV reporter did drop by in 1993 to shoot a feature story though.

Through ups and downs there was always enough interest to keep galleries open, to maintain a presence as the center of arts in Oklahoma City.

Rosebrook says, "Growing up here we used to drive through the Paseo just to look at the hippie folks.
We were just in high school. Now I'm one of them."

There are a number of ways to look at the passing of years.

The wrong way is to think o them as a grind, day after day, month after pounding month.

"I find the more I work the faster it goes," he says while working on a lump of new clay.

Rosebrook and the other artists here have always managed to work toward something.

With a nod to an earlier period of his own creative life, Collin is producing a series of large platters or obelisks imprinted with images from Oklahoma's past, idols from the Spiro Mounds, the birds of a prairie spring, or the fish from a slow-moving river.

"As an Oklahoman I'm just using some of its historical facts."

"It's just fun to go back and do those again. People haven't seen these for a while."

The Paseo District has always been one of those creative places where artists gathered and worked.

It's history is also a long arc that stretches back generations, a unique, local dish you can't get anywhere else.

The 40th annual Paseo Arts Festival takes place May 28-30.

For more information go to http://www.thepaseo.com