Thursday, April 23, 2009


Oly’s bi-annual arts extravaganza

published in the Weekly Volcano, April 23, 2009
pictured: Burning Man photo by Edward Hoffman (showing at Art House Designs)and collage drawings by Gail Ramsey Wharton (showing at Ginger Street).

Here we go again. For the 38th time. Olympia Arts Walk, It’s a madhouse of art, music and performance arts of all types, and one of the wildest, grass-roots, non-motorized parades south of Seattle. It’s called The Procession of the Species, and it’s like the Freemont Solstice Parade without the really good stuff, meaning the naked bicyclers. And for what it’s worth, the promoters insist it should not be called a parade, but that’s what it is.

Arts Walk turns all of downtown Olympia into a very crowded and festive art gallery and performance space. Professional artists, amateur artists, students from elementary school through college, musicians, storytellers, and performers of all types show their stuff in galleries, cafes, barber shops, tattoo parlors and on the streets over a two-day period (Friday, April 24, 5-10 p.m. and Saturday, April 25, noon to 7 p.m.). Hundreds of artists take part, and more than 120 downtown businesses open all or part of their space as gallery or performance venues.

The crowds are shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s sometimes hard to see the art for all the bodies. If you want to get a bite to eat or something to drink, you may have a long wait. But while you’re waiting there is about a 99-percent chance you’ll bump into a friend or two, and probably someone you haven’t seen in 15 years. That’s just the way it is at Arts Walk.

So what can you expect to see other than swirling masses of humanity? A lot of stuff that passes as art. Close to half of it represents good efforts on the part of hobbyists and children. About three-fourths of what you’ll see is either boring or downright lousy art. But there will be a handful of really good artists on display, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be surprised somewhere along the way by a completely unknown artist who is outstanding.

Following is a sampling of a few of the shows that should be worth seeing.
Tucker Petertil’s paintings and sculpture at The Creperie on Fourth Avenue
Ed Hoffman’s photographs from Burning Man at Art House Designs
Multi media art by Marianne Partlow at her studio on Fifth Avenue
Old Geezer Art featuring works with recycled materials at Sylvester Park
Mixed media art by Betty Jo Fitzgerald at The Fireside Bookstore
Shaw Osha’s oil and “spray paper” paintings at room 30
Kiki Chan, jewelry; Bill Collins oil and watercolor paintings; Noel Debord’s acrylic paintings; Karen La Grave, oils; and Maitri Sojourner, fabric collages at The Press Coffee House and Lounge
Circle of Friends mixed media, metal and wearable art by Jerry Cook, Judy Cook and Pam Wells at Sherburne Antiques & Fine Art
Julie Barrett-Ziegler, marionettes and icons; Katie Wulf, acrylic paintings at Hot Toddy
Marilyn Bedford, encaustic and mixed media; Joe Cattuti, blown glass; Janet Day’s pencil drawings; and Grail Ramsey Wharton’s drawings and collages at Ginger Street
Marilyn Frasca’s drawings and John and Robin Gumaelius’ ceramics at Childhood’s End Gallery
Drumming by Planet Percussion plus solo, duet and group flamenco dances by Oly Flamenco at The Loft on Cherry
Garage Voice, indie rock and roll meets Stax Soul at Reality
T-Claw and the Grizzle-Grazzel Trash Can Band at The Loft on Cherry (obviously a happening place)
Art activities for children and group art exhibit at the downtown YMCA
Shadow puppetry plus recycled and mixed media sculpture by George Kurzman and wood sculpture by Judy Manley at Olympia Salvage

Arts Walk culminates with The Procession of the Species, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Cherry and Legion and winds its way through town ending at the fountain area of Heritage Park for closing celebration.
Arts Walk maps including all venues and events are given out at locations all over town.

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