By Emily McMason
Did you know the average pedestrian can walk 4 blocks in 5 minutes? While the City of Olympia Department of Parks, Arts and Recreation have included this in the Spring 2013 Arts Walk guide, chances are, it will take you much longer to wander the sidewalks of downtown April 26 and 27. With 96 official sites for Arts Walk, there are opportunities aplenty to pause and take it all in.
The events begin Friday evening and culminate with Procession of the Species Saturday afternoon at 4:30 pm. It is a chance to see not only the artists’ works, but local shops as well. Stores supporting Arts Walk include longtime downtown businesses like Urban Onion, Canvas Works, Childhood’s End Gallery, Drees and Traditions Café. While these are familiar names, it is also an opportunity to explore shops you’ve seen but maybe not yet ventured into, including De Colores Books, Matter Gallery, The Steam Plant, or Olympia Olive Oil.
Canvas Works has been an artist sponsor from the very beginning, hosting each year since the first Arts Walk. “It is the perfect venue for Olympians to congregate, see old friends, check out new and old local artists. Downtown comes alive with positivity, smiles and great entertainment. We are sponsoring The Olympia Waldorf School. The youth music ensemble will be performing Friday Night at 6:30 with lively numbers performed on guitar, ukulele, mandolin, and percussion. We will also have youth watercolor from OWS students. Our second feature will be local fiber and textile artists showing off there latest knit, woven, sewn, and felted creations,” said Amy Chartrey.
You could strategically map out a Girls’ Night Out adventure and see the art displays inside of Red Door Interiors, Archibald Sisters, Hot Toddy, and Compass Rose. Or maybe it’s an adult’s only evening and you wander from Swing Wine Bar to Marchetti Wines, finishing the night at Fish Tale Brew Pub.
Red Door Interior’s co-owner Lara Anderson said that the local store has been hosting artists for six years. “We are hosting Julie Simpson for the fourth time. She is amazing! She beat breast cancer this past year and the artwork that she will be exhibiting was painted during her illness. It is emotionally raw and beautiful at the same time. We will also be hosting the incredibly talented singer songwriter, Melina Kastle– she is like Nora Jones. Spring Arts Walk is our favorite community event! Red Door is always alive and fun for the event,” said Anderson.
Artist Julie Simpson is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design. “[I’ve] been a working artist for the past 10 years practicing two art forms – hand woven textile design and 2-D mixed media paintings. Last year during my treatment, I was thankful for being an artist as I was visually expressing what I could not find words for and the multiple canvases painted during that year provided the art therapy needed on a personal level to persevere through this monumental and powerful challenge.”
If Arts Walk is a family event, make sure to include stops at Olympia Timberland Library and the Hands On Children’s Museum on Friday. Olympia Timberland Library will be hosting a special evening, including a performance by Sambalincolnwa at 5:15 pm. Families are encouraged and invited to come and dance to the percussion music. Afterwards artist Nora Walsh will be on hand to help children create their own works of art. The Hands On Children’s Museum will be open late on Friday as well, and admission will be free after 5:00 pm. Kids will have an opportunity to engage in special Arts Walk activities and visit with local artists. Finish the weekend Arts Walk experience with Saturday’s Procession of the Species.
Children’s book illustrator Jill Carter will be displaying her art at Popinjay. “I will be showing some light boxes and shadow boxes of illustrations from the children’s book series ‘The Chicken and the Dog.’ We will also be signing books. We have three now, ‘The Chicken and the Dog’ in both English and Spanish as well as the sequel we just finished, ‘The Great Chicken Caper.’ I illustrated the books in collaboration with local authors Amanda and Andre Maxwell.”
Carter’s vision for art goes beyond what we hang on our walls. “I have also made a bunch of the illustrations into temporary tattoos and for the last two Art Walks I have had a blast giving away a little bit of wearable art to all the kids (and kid’s at heart). This Arts Walk we have also been working on getting these fun illustrations on some more functional items like canvas bags. We want to introduce artwork into people’s everyday activities.”
Or maybe, you plan by artist or artistic medium. There are artists in watercolor, oil, pen and ink. Leaving the canvas there are mosaics, metal works, stone sculpture, painted furniture and porcelain jewelry. There are names you will recognize, including the celebrated Nikki McClure, and names that might belong to your own children, like the art done by Lincoln Elementary School students.
Artist Maitri Sojourner’s work will be showing at Breathe. She explained, “I am a member of a local art critique group, ‘Thursday Art Group—TAG’, and we will be showing our work at Breathe, the yoga and performance studio on Capitol Way just opposite Sylvester Park. I am currently ‘painting with fabric’—I use recycled clothes and various repurposed fabrics to build images. My pieces in the show are based on the ancient Buddhist Ox Herding series, which depict a person in search of an ox, and the struggle to tame the ox. This ancient artwork is really a metaphor for the search of self. My modern-day version explores this theme, but with a southwestern flavor, depicted with desert plants and animals.”
For photographer Cortney Kelley, this marks her 13th Arts Walk. She is located in The Steam Plant, next door to Ziegler’s Welding. “This year we are lucky to feature the [Arts Walk guide] cover artist, China Star, as well as Darcy Goedecke. We will have three musical performance groups on Friday night starting at 5 pm and on into the night–a youth jazz/rock group, a solo singer/songwriter Shelby Adams, and a classic rock band The Pump House. We are also going to have an outdoor beer garden sponsored by POSSCA (Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts). The beer garden will be serving Fish Tale Ale and people will be able to relax and listen to some great music, visit with friends, and enjoy our vibrant, artistic community!”
In addition to supporting local artists and businesses, there are ways to participate in Arts Walk. On Saturday April 20 there is a community downtown clean-up event from 8:00 am to noon. Register to help by contacting Kim Combs at the ODA office, 357-8948 or firstname.lastname@example.org by April 19th.
Or maybe, you simply meander the sidewalks, letting your sensing pull you in. No matter how you plan your time, the 46th Arts Walk in Olympia is not to be missed.