Tumwater felt artist Christine Malek from Gallery Boom attends about 20 shows per year, including Olympia Film Society’s Duck The Malls. “Duck The Malls is one of the most interesting for me. It is by far the most creative in Olympia. It highlights the spirit of this town. I plan on doing it as long as they let me.”
Duck The Malls, scheduled for December 12 is a juried show. This year’s event will include more than 50 artists, with many worthy artists on the waiting list. A seven person committee, comprised of six volunteers plus Olympia Film Society’s, (OFS) executive director Audrey Henley, met to select the artists.
Committee member and event organizer Ruby from Ruby Re-Usable explains, “We look for quality, uniqueness, and that almost intangible ability to fit with the Duck The Malls’ downtown vibe. Also, we are always limited by the space available.”
Ruby has been the volunteer organizer of this event for the last 12 years. “Chauney Peck organized the first holiday craft fair,” Ruby tells me. “We wanted to raise money for gallery lighting in the mezzanine. At that time, 13 years ago, Peck was the OFS Volunteer Gallery Coordinator. Peck named the event Deck the Balls and asked me to help. The following year I became the organizer and changed the event name to Duck The Malls.”
“This is OFS’s thirteenth year sponsoring an event that supports our local art community by attracting people who appreciate the unique quality of the local handmade items created by our awesome artists,” continues Ruby. “It also benefits the OFS, not only through the money raised by the bake sale and table fees, but by welcoming folks into the historic theater during daylight hours, where they can admire the architecture as well as the art for sale. Some of the tables are set up along the isles over the seating. It is another cool event that draws people to downtown Olympia.”
“The last few years, the proceeds have been used for OFS programming of the Mezzanine Art Space: paint, new lighting, supplies, promotional materials, and affording to have the theater open for free during Arts Walk,” Ruby explains.
Artists on Display
Many artists will exhibit their work during the December 12 event. The youngest artist at the event this year is Amelia Hamilton a middle school student from Griffin School who has been participating in Duck The Malls for several years. Hamilton folds and cuts various sizes of origami paper to create intricate designs. The cutouts are then glued onto greeting cards, or laminated to create earrings and Christmas tree ornaments.
Tenino artist John Brooks is also exhibiting his ceramics. He is a member of the ceramic artists’ collective, Floating Feet Studios. Brooks collaborates with artist Ashlea Schroder.”I throw the vessels, and she carves the designs into the surface free hand,” he explains.
Olympia artist Wendy Trevorrow’s work includes duos of rabbits playing musical instruments. “My whimsical woodland musicians were inspired by an appreciation for the harmonizing force of music throughout and between human and natural worlds,” she says.
Additionally Trevorrow adds, “Duck The Malls is a magical event, celebrating not only our local artists and the holiday season, but the uniquely creative and vibrant culture that is Olympia.”
Artist Jahla Brown has participated for several years. She is an independent pop art design brand, specializing in original, colorful 80s and 90s inspired pop imagery. All her designs are handmade, multi-layered screen prints, including canvases, t-shirts, reusable tote bags, various specialty-clothing items, and stickers.
Value of Handmade Items
The list of artists attending is long and the variety of work they will present is substantial. Ruby notes, “People are appreciating the handmade, not mass-produced products right now. In fact, manufacturers are mass-producing items to look like they are handmade. There is a big movement these days for locally grown food, and locally made products are getting traction. It is important to support our local artists.”
As for why Ruby has volunteered her time for 13 years to help make Duck The Malls happen? “My art studio and the OFS offices are in the same building. I see the Olympia Film Society and the Capitol Theater as the heart of downtown.”
Duck the Malls takes place Saturday, December 12 from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. inside the Capitol Theater. Admission is free. This event is a fundraiser created to support local and independent artisans and artists in the South Sound, and visual art programming at the Olympia Film Society. Proceeds from the gigantic bake sale and vendor table fees benefit OFS.