By: Haleigh Missildine
This year’s spring Arts Walk will take place on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28 in downtown Olympia. Specific to this year, there will be a plywood architecture design competition.
Contestants will make a piece of 4 feet by 8 feet plywood into a piece of art. These entries will be displayed at The Washington Center for Performing Arts. There will be awards for the most beautiful, most unique, and most useful entries. A cardboard design competition will also take place. The same rules apply, except a 1 foot by 2 feet piece of cardboard will be used instead.
A display of repurposed quilts at Fireside Bookstore will be present at this year’s Arts Walk as well as a performance with the South Sound Story Guild teaming up with ukulele players at the Olympia Center.
Arts Walk began as an offshoot of the Olympia Film Festival and the city’s art program. A local had the idea to expand the film festival (that year, the theme was visual arts) and from then on local artwork accompanied the film festival.
Stephanie Johnson, who has been involved in Arts Walk for 24 years, loves the idea of having an art show in Olympia. It’s unique; the entire town is involved, so artists and businesses get publicity. Artists get an opportunity to show off and sell their art, said Johnson.
Jemmi Cole, a local teenage artist, said her first experience showing at Arts Walk was a great opportunity to gain experience.
“I’m on the path to becoming a professional artist and understanding how to put on a show will help me a lot in the future,” she said.
Arts Walk is something that the whole city looks forward to, for a myriad of reasons.
“I go to arts walk to eat all the local treats and see the performers,” said SPSCC student Oscar McNamara.
According to Johnson, the spring Arts Walk is especially important. “It’s an awakening … everything is waking up again and getting ready for the summer,” she said.
There’s always something new that one might not expect to see said Johnson.
Everything from paintings to fire dancers and music are accepted at Arts Walk.
South Puget Sound Community College student Yon Yi said that it is a great place for local bands to play in front of an audience. Yi hopes to play at Arts Walk himself.
“Arts Walk is Olympia personified. Everyone shows up to represent so you get this whole hodgepodge of folk from all walks of life,” said Emma Messinger, an SPSCC student. “They mill about and make music and juggle fire and sell their wares. And Procession you have to see to believe.”
In 1995, the first Olympia Procession was organized as a celebration of Earth Day as well as in support of the Endangered Species Act.
The official mission of the Procession is “to empower communities to engage in cultural relationships with the natural world as a means of sustaining efforts of environmental protection and restoration.”
Community members dress up in colorful and creative costumes depicting a wide variety of species. Since 1995, the event has grown from a small group to a large parade of over 2,500 participants. Thousands more watch the procession. Anyone is welcome to participate.
Musicians dress up and play anything from drum beats to jazz. There are only three rules to participating in the procession, no words used on signs or in music, no pets, and no motorized vehicles. This is a celebration of nature.
Johnson strongly encourages those who have not been to an Arts Walk to go experience it. “It’s one of Olympia’s greatest evenings. It’s such an experience.” she said.
This year, the Luminary Procession is at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and the main event, the Procession of the Species, will start on the intersection of Cherry Street and Legion Avenue at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. For parade route and starting location information, visit www.procession.org
[Caption: Community members dressed as a gang of bumble bees participate in the Procession of the Species.]
Photo by Serena Imani Korn/The Sounds