Alec Clayton

Alec Clayton

OLY ARTS Editor Alec Clayton is an artist and writer. In addition to being the editor of and writing for OLY ARTS, he has written art and theater reviews and other feature articles for the Weekly Volcano, The News Tribune, Art Access, The Olympian, and Thurston Talk. His published novels include “Teacher,” “Tupelo,” the three books of the “Freedom Trilogy”: “The Backside of Nowhere,” “Return to Freedom” and “Visual Liberties;” plus “Until the Dawn,” “Imprudent Zeal,” “The Wives of Marty Winters” and “Reunion at the Wetside;” and two books of art criticism: “As If Art Matters” and “What the Heck is a Frame-Pedestal Aesthetic?” All are available via Mud Flat Press. Alec grew up in Tupelo and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and has been living in the Pacific Northwest since 1988 where he is active in many progressive organizations such as PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Clayton’s paintings have been shown in galleries in Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Oregon, Korea, and many galleries in Western Washington.

Articles

  • Jill Carter’s Projected Valentine Mural
    Frisky bunnies, owls, and other animals play amongst happy Valentine hearts inscribed with “True Love,” “Be Mine,” “I’m Yours,” and “Love Oly” on Jill Carter’s projected mural on the empty Goldberg Building in downtown Olympia.
  • Bring on the Funk with Olympia Funk Festival — “Funk OFF!”
    Homegrown Olympia music makers and nationally acclaimed headliners from Seattle and Portland and around the country will enliven downtown Olympia with a weekend of music and dance, February 2-4, when the inaugural Olympia Funk Festival known as “Funk OFF!” ignites the city with three days of non-stop dancing and exciting and innovative music.
  • Hal Schrieve Writes About Getting Over the End of the World
    Hal Schrieve, reading from “How to Get Over the End of the World” on Wednesday, October 25th at Browsers Books, grew up in Olympia, now lives in New York City, and works as a children’s librarian. Hir says, “I hope it resonates with people from Olympia! It is very inflected by my own teen years 2010-2014.”
  • Fall Again – Arts and Entertainment
    by Alec Clayton Fall is a time for rebirth, for rejuvenation, especially when coming in the wake of a scorching dry summer and a pandemic that refuses to go away. Children return to school, and there will be football — Friday Night Lights at area high schools and U-Dub and Seahawks on the telly. Fall …

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  • Nancy Thorne Wins Plinth Project
    This year’s winner of the Percival Plinth Project in Olympia, “A Song for Nurturing Peace” by Nancy Thorne-Chambers, is a bronze statue of a girl holding a bird’s nest with an egg in one hand while the mother bird, a white dove, perches on her other hand.
  • Artist Profile: The One and Only Rene Westbrook
    Rene Westbrook engages the viewer as a visual oracle of creative ideas that can stimulate the senses and become the vehicle for hidden mysteries she wants to explore. Painting, collage, sculpture, and photography work as a catalyst for her latest direction of inquiry, digital compilations.
  • It’s Lakefair Time
    Capital Lakefair in its 66 season takes possession of Heritage Park on the shores of Capital Lake July 12 to 16, with carnival rides, food vendors, main stage entertainment, a parade and a half-marathon, a car show with more than 50 cars and crafts booths. And, as tradition has it, the weekend festivities culminate with a spectacular fireworks display Sunday night.
  • Review: Falsettos at Harlequin
    Falsettos at Harlequin is a sung-through musical. It begins light-hearted and quirky, and soon becomes deadly serious.
  • Arts Walk is Back
    Arts Walk is back! Covid never completely defeated Olympia’s Arts Walk, but this year it returns, full-blown — Arts Walk number 66. Artists and art lovers will swarm downtown Olympia, and shops, restaurants and businesses of all types will host artists and entertainers April 28-29.
  • Review: The Annual Juror’s Invitational Exhibition at SPSCC
    Juror Erin Dengerink invited seven outstanding artists to submit works for this year’s SPSCC Juror’s Invitational Exhibition. They are Cebron Kyle Bradford, Jennifer Lauer, Becky Frehse, Becky Knold, Sandra Bocas, Allyson Essen, and Charles F. Pitz.
  • Salish Sea Art Sparkles in the Goldberg Building
    “Winter—Under the Salish Sea,” a project of Olympia Artspace Alliance in partnership with Art in Olympia Storefronts, Artists on Board, and through other collaborations and the City of Olympia, will brighten our winter days as we slowly swim toward the bright sun of spring and summer and will remain in place in downtown Olympia’s Goldberg Building windows through January and February. https://olyarts.org/2023/01/06/salish-sea-art-sparkles-in-the-goldberg-building/
  • Review: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol
    A classic reimagined. So yes, Marley is dead. To save himself from eternal damnation, he is told he must find a way to redeem Ebenezer Scrooge. “Impossible!” TAO’s Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol is a journey of laughter and terror, redemption and renewal.
  • Review: One Christmas at the Evergreen Mall at Olympia Little Theatre
    Stealing Baby Jesus, Marly and Scrooge fighting over “A Christmas Carol,” selling fishing rods for Christmas, love lost and found — all of this and more happens at the Evergreen Mall one Christmas Eve.
  • Review: A Christmas Carol at Harlequin Productions – & – Art by Becky Knold
    “A story about redemption is fundamentally a story about hope,” director Aaron Lamb says. “And forgiveness. May you too find ghosts that change you for the better this holiday season.” Lobby art by Becky Knold.
  • Review: The Moors at South Puget Sound Community College
    There is evil afoot on the dark and stormy English Moors. And outlandish humor in SPSCC’s “The Moors” by Jen Silverman.
  • Review: Dragons Love Tacos at Olympia Family Theater
    Dragons Love Tacos at Olympia Family Theater is a whimsical and fiery play suitable for all ages based on the popular children’s book.
  • Review: Leaving Iowa at Olympia Little Theatre
    Olympia Little Theatre takes audiences on a trip in search of America with the Brownings, a typical family then and now.
  • REVIEW: Fun Home at Harlequin Productions
    Harlequin Productions ends their 2021-2022 season with the riveting musical “Fun Home” based on the autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel.
  • REVIEW: The Secret Garden at Olympia Family Theater
    Olympia Family Theater with String & Shadow Puppet Theater is performing a modern adaptation of “The Secret Garden.” This one is set this year in the Pacific Northwest and written by award-winning playwright Mabelle Reynoso with a Latinx perspective. And it has punk rock music, talking creatures, magical plants and puppets.
  • A New Season of Resilience for Live Theater in Olympia
    Harlequin Productions calls its 2023 season a “Resilience Season.” That appellation could well apply to all local live theater after more than two years of Covid. Here’s a great season preview for all local theaters, including Harlequin, Olympia Family Theater, Olympia Little Theatre, Broadway Olympia, and SPSCC.
  • Fall Arts Walk 2022
    Art galleries, bars, restaurants, shops, performance spaces — more than 80 downtown venues will be aswarm with excitement as artists young and old, amateur and professional, bring downtown Olympia to vibrant life for two evenings in early October. It’s been happening twice a year since 1990, when the first-annual spring and fall Arts Walks kicked off. In addition to visual art, there will be street performances, a busking zone and food trucks.
  • REVIEW: Art by Evan Horback and Cecily Schmidt 
    by Alec Clayton The latest artexhibition at Browsers Bookshop is DIALOGIC: Works on Paper by Evan Horback and Cecily Schmidt. Accordintg to the Oxford English Dictionary, “dialogic” means “relating to or in the form of dialogue.” That discribes this show in many ways. There are dialogues between the two artists and between the elments within individual works …

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  • REVIEW: Twelfth Night, or What You Will, at Squaxin Park
    by Alec Clayton What better way to welcome theater lovers to the newly named Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park) than a riotous evening of Shakespeare at sunset? It’s even better on a grassy slope with a scrim of trees and a peek of Puget Sound in the background. The play is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, …

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  • Broadway Olympia Productions and Theater Artists Olympia Pair Up in The (One-Act) Play That Goes Wrong
    By Alec Clayton and Molly Gilmore Like a theater version of The Odd Couple, the dark and edgy Theater Artists Olympia and the song-and-dance-fueled Broadway Olympia Productions are sharing a home. The theater companies, both sidelined since the pandemic, will each produce work in Broadway Olympia’s black box theater in Capital Mall. The partnership — …

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  • REVIEW: 2022 Juried Show at South Puget Sound Community College
    By Alec Clayton A sense of joy washes over viewers as they enter the Southwest Washington Regional Juried Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College’s Leonor R. Fuller Gallery. Brightly colored paintings on suspended panels over the highly reflective black floors intensify the beauty of the space. Mostly paintings and a few sculptures in a …

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  • REVIEW: Life Is Complicated at Olympia Little Theatre
    By Alec Clayton Life Is Complicated at Olympia Little Theatre is a play of firsts: a first-time writer and a first-time actor, the best actor in the play in this reviewer’s opinion. Kendra Malm, OLT board president and artistic and production manager, wrote and directed Life Is Complicated. She had never attempted writing a play …

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  • REVIEW: Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Harlequin Productions
    The rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with text by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, started as a performance in drag clubs and became an international phenomenon. It’s now playing at the State Theater of Olympia’s Harlequin Productions, starring Adam Rennie as Hedwig and Mandy Rose Nichøls as Hedwig’s husband and assistant, Yitzhak.
  • REVIEW: Bloom at Childhood’s End Gallery
    As summer creeps in and as we begin to see hope for an end to the COVID pandemic, Childhood’s End Gallery celebrates rejuvenation with an exhibition called “Bloom.” It features flowers, flowers and more flowers by local artists, plus paintings, etchings, sculptures and a cascading curtain of living flowers by Olympia artist Kathy Gore Fuss.
  • REVIEW: Falling at Olympia Little Theatre
    Falling, now playing at Olympia Little Theatre (OLT), is 70 minutes of edge-of-your-seat intensity, a roller coaster of love, fear and laughter with no intermission. If there were an intermission, the audience’s total immersion into the Martin family would be weakened; if it were any longer than 70 minutes, the actors would be physically exhausted and the audience emotionally so. As it is, the time flies by at warp speed and the audience is left depleted, yet thoroughly satisfied.
  • Celebrating Sovereignty at Harlequin Productions
    This spring, Olympia’s Harlequin Productions is doing something that’s never been done in this area. It’s producing Sovereignty, a historical drama about Native Americans, written and directed by Native Americans, performed by an ensemble of Native and non-Native actors, with direction, set, costume and lighting design by Native artists brought to Olympia from all over the United States.
  • REVIEW: The Originals at Olympia Little Theatre
    Congratulations to local writers Tamara Keeton and Katherine Kelly for undertaking the arduous task of researching The Originals, the true story of the heroic female pilots of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron during World War II, now playing at Olympia Little Theatre.
  • REVIEW: The 2022 Juror’s Invitational Exhibition
    By Alec Clayton Every year South Puget Sound Community College presents a juried exhibition of works by southwestern Washington artists, and every year an art professional selects a small group of artists from that show to be included in the Juror’s Invitational. The juror for this year’s invitational was sculptor Aisha Harrison, and the artists …

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  • REVIEW: The Paper Moon at Olympia Family Theater
    By Alec Clayton Emerging from its COVID-19 hibernation like Punxsutawney Phil from his hideaway, Olympia Family Theater kicked off its belated season with a pair of excellent shows. Fully Vaxxed, a hilarious trio of one-act plays with important messages, performed at OFT and is now on a tour of Washington state. Then came an astonishing …

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  • REVIEW: Fully Vaxxed at Olympia Family Theater
    Fully Vaxxed at Olympia Family Theater is one of the funniest, most distinctive and important theatrical events out there. It’s a campaign that will continue and move to other towns after its run at OFT. It’s a plea and a lesson on the importance of vaccinations in the time of COVID-19. It’s a performance of three bilingual, one-act plays running two weekends at OFT, then touring the state.
  • REVIEW: Murder for Two at Harlequin Productions
    Strap in for Murder for Two at Harlequin Productions, 90 minutes of mayhem and laughter — not to mention singing and a lot of amazing hijinks on the piano. Two actors, Jon Lutyens and Katherine Strohmaier, play more than 13 characters in a tour-de-force escapade for both.
  • A Painted Response to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
    Artist Becky Knold has released a series of paintings that, intentionally or not, were inspired by or reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • REVIEW: The Bold, The Young, and The Murdered
    It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between bad acting and good actors playing the part of bad actors — or between a bad script and a play about a badly written show. Audiences at Olympia Little Theatre’s farcical The Bold, the Young, and the Murdered, written by Don Zolidis and directed by Katelyn May, are left to decide for themselves.
  • REVIEW: Black Love: Community Building Through Mentorship
    Five experienced artists have been asked to mentor younger artists and exhibit their own work alongside works by the artists they’ve mentored. The resulting exhibition, Black Love, is currently on display at SPSCC’s Leonor R. Fuller Gallery.
  • REVIEW: Clue at Olympia Little Theatre
    By Alec Clayton Nobody, neither the audience nor any guest at Boddy Manor, has a clue who killed whom. Perhaps more accurately, everybody has a clue, but they’re all wrong. Based on the 1985 movie with an all-star cast including Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn and Michael McKean, with a setup based on the popular board …

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  • Olympia YWCA to Celebrate 2022 Womxn of Achievement
    By Alec Clayton Ti’eri Lino and Elizabeth Satiacum will be honored February 19 as Womxn of Achievement in the 27th-annual event at Olympia’s YWCA. Lino is the program director for homeless services for Interfaith Works. She strives to ensure our most vulnerable, marginalized neighbors have a place of shelter, safety and acceptance. Along with securing …

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  • The Big-Little Show: Evan Horback and Jimmy Ulvenes at Bar Francis
    By Alec Clayton There’s a new, big-little art exhibit in a tiny coffee shop. It’s Evan Horback and Jimmy Ulvenes at Bar Francis. Local art lovers will remember Horback from his big gorgeous show at Salon Refu (Now LGM Studio) almost a decade ago. Not long after, he moved away from Olympia, but now he’s …

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  • The Devil’s in the Details at South Puget Sound Community College Annual Postcard Show
    By Alec Clayton The annual postcard show at South Puget Sound Community College is arguably one of the most popular art shows in the South Sound. It’s popular probably because it attracts so many artists working in so many styles and media. The current iteration includes more than 130 works. The criteria for inclusion is the …

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  • Experience Oly on Ice This Holiday Season
    Oly on Ice, the portable ice-skating rink in that location every year about this time, is a joint venture of the City of Olympia and Ice Rink Events. It runs through Jan. 17, 2022.
  • Excellent Gift Ideas for Olympia Book Lovers
    Consider the gift of a fictitious Olympia or Thurston County: a story set in our home, a gift that supports a local author. What’s great about such a gift is showing out-of-state friends and family a part of our home as only a writer can capture it.
  • REVIEW: A Christmas Carol at Harlequin Productions
    By Alec Clayton Following decades of the popular Stardust shows at Harlequin Productions, the company embarks on a new holiday tradition with a production of A Christmas Carol adapted and directed by Aaron Lamb, who is also in the cast. “The great majority of the text is directly from the page,” Lamb says. “We’re as …

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  • REVIEW: Childhood’s End 50th-Anniversary Exhibition, Part 2
    By Alec Clayton For half a century, Childhood’s End Gallery has been Olympia’s paramount art gallery. Bill and Richenda Richardson opened the gallery and gift shop in 1971. Since then, they’ve introduced many of the region’s best painters, sculptors and craftspersons to our town. Today, they continue to display works, not only by outstanding local …

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  • REVIEW: Until the Flood: Brutal, Angry, Heartbreaking, Astonishing
    By Alec Clayton Content warning: This article includes language directly quoted from the performance that some readers may find disturbing. Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood — now playing at Harlequin Productions, in repertory with Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill — is brutal, angry, heartbreaking …

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  • REVIEW: Eurydice at South Puget Sound Community College
    By Alec Clayton Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl is a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth as seen through the eyes of Orpheus’s wife, Eurydice (pronounced yuh-RID-ih-see). As performed by the SPSCC Theatre Collective, it is mystical, poetic and surrealistic. In the program, director Lauren Love wrote, “Ruhl’s imagination is thoroughly theatrical. She refracts her poetry …

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  • A Virtual Campfire With Wild Grief
    By Alec Clayton Local nonprofit Wild Grief invites the community to gather around a virtual campfire on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Wild Grief uses peer support and the healing power of nature to help people work through the feeling their grief is too heavy to endure. “By offering free, outdoor …

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  • REVIEW: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    By Alec Clayton Billie Holiday was the heart and soul of jazz from the 1930s through the 1950s. She put that period’s violent racism front and center in some of her songs — undeniably and often uncomfortably, as demonstrated by her signature song’s effect on audiences. “Strange Fruit” is Abel Meeropol’s heartbreaking and powerful ballad …

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  • REVIEW: Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical
    By Alec Clayton Harlequin Productions’ Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical is much more than a musical revue. Yes, Meg McLynn as Clooney performs all the legendary singer’s greatest hits — “Hey There,” “Tenderly,” “Sisters,” “Come On-a My House” and more, often in unexpected ways — and costar Bruce Haasl as “The Doctor” sings as exquisitely as Harlequin …

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  • Three Plays in Repertory at Olympia’s Harlequin Productions
    By Alec Clayton Opening a new theatrical season after almost two years of being closed, Harlequin Productions is trying something it’s never before attempted: three plays in repertory, with overlapping schedules and each play to open one week apart and run concurrently for five weeks each.  Marketing and communications director — and frequent Harlequin actor …

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  • “Decades” at The Washington Center Gallery
    by Alec Clayton Tom Anderson is an iconic presence on Olympia’s art scene. The Park of the Seven Oaks by the roundabout on Harrison Avenue — That’s a Tom Anderson creation. The large, metal art pieces that fill the walls in the emergency room and chapel at Providence St. Peter Hospital — Those are also …

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  • Ensemble of Drawing, Painting, Sculpture at SPSCC Faculty & Staff Exhibition
    by Alec Clayton This year’s annual faculty and staff exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College is an eclectic mix of drawing, painting, sculpture and hybrids of those. It is work that is conceptually complex while maintaining aesthetic joy by artists who are more than talented — They are intelligent and in touch with the …

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  • The Theater That Refused to Die
    By Alec Clayton From Reefer Madness and Cannibal the Musical to lots and lots of Shakespeare, and performing in such diverse spaces as Olympia Little Theatre, the basement of the Elks Hall and the Midnight Sun in downtown Olympia, Theater Artists Olympia had its genesis in the early 2000s; and every time it looks like …

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  • Olympia Artist Continues Outdoor “Places” Installation This September
    By Alec Clayton OLY ARTS readers and art lovers throughout the Olympia area will remember Kathy Gore Fuss’s floral installation “A Place to Mourn.” Beginning Sept. 6, Gore Fuss will have another floral installation in place entitled “A Place to Reflect.” As with her first such installation, this one will be a place of beauty, …

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  • An Exhibition of Pairs at Childhood’s End Gallery
    By Alec Clayton “Compliments” at Childhood’s End Gallery is an exhibition of pairs — couples who both complement and compliment one another. It is a show of paintings and ceramics by artists who either live together or work together and whose artworks look well together. The couples are painters Christopher Mathie and Chuck Gumpert, ceramicists John …

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  • Local Author Teams up With Puppeteer Troupe for One-Night Outdoor Performance
    By Alec Clayton Update August 23, 2021: “Moss Covered Claws Live!” has been rescheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Sept 12. More details are below. A one-of-a-kind literary and performance event is happening one night only in Lions Park in the Eastside Olympia nieghborhood. Blue Cactus Press is set to present Olympia author Jonah …

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  • The Kinsey Collection: Celebrating Artistic Contributions of Black Americans
    By Alec Clayton Art lovers from Olympia to Portland to Seattle should travel to Tacoma Art Museum and see an historically important and one-of-a-kind collection of African American art and historic artifacts in The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. The collection fills two of the Museum’s galleries, including more than 150 objects including …

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  • REVIEW: 2021 Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition
    By Alec Clayton Guest juror Aisha Harrison chose a wide variety of art for the 2021 Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College: paintings, sculpture, textiles in many styles and wide-ranging content. It is great to see this show returning for in-person viewing, albeit at 50 percent capacity. Indicative of the eclectic …

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  • Local Artists Celebrated at 2021 LoveOly Summerfest
    By Alec Clayton Artist Dave Sederberg who lit up the night for Winter Solstice with the astounding “Glowhenge” project is now at work with a group of local artists on an eight-week street-art project for the LoveOly Summerfest scheduled for eight Saturdays in July and August in downtown Olympia. Sederberg has pulled together a team …

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  • Ordinary Objects Transformed Into a Place to Mourn
    By Alec Clayton At a private residence in her Northeast Olympia neighborhood, artist Kathy Gore Fuss has transformed a carved stone into a memorial or place of worship, or “A Place to Mourn,” which she sees as a starting point for a series of floral memorials. “I have been thinking about this project ever since …

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  • ‘Hotel Olympian’ Playwright Among Those Celebrated with Heritage Awards
    By Alec Clayton The hour-long radio play “The Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza,” by local playwright Bryan Willis, received a Heritage Award from the City of Olympia’s Heritage Commission in a celebration on May 20. Also celebrated with Heritage Awards were filmmaker Shane Anderson, Thurston County Historic Commission and Placemaker Alicia Elliott. Willis is …

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  • Sky Bear Media: Olympia’s Indigenous Film Company
    By Alec Clayton Olympia, the city of natural abundance, award-winning culture and celebrated diversity, is home to a video production that was founded by and is run by an indigenous filmmaker — Sky Bear Media. The company is housed in the Steamplant Building in the heart of downtown, described by company founder Jeff Barehand as …

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  • Four Artists Shine in 2021 Juror’s Invitational at Leonor R. Fuller Gallery
    By Alec Clayton Each year, award winners from South Puget Sound Community College’s juried exhibition are featured in the Juror’s Invitational. This year’s invited artists comprise a quartet of contrasting but equally excellent artists selected by juror June Sekiguchi. They are painters Marilyn Bedford and Hart James, sculptor Ron Hinton, and photographer John Korvell. Bedford …

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  • Olympia Arts Month Featured Artist: Laurel Henn
    By Alec Clayton This year’s Spring Arts Month cover art will be “Fluttering,” a hand-painted relief block by Laurel Henn, depicting quilts on a clothesline. The artist says this image is dear to her because of her mother’s life-long work as a quilter. “Quilts are a source of comfort and a symbol of family heirlooms,” …

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  • The Dynamic Duo That Is Lynette Charters Serembe and John Serembe
    By Alec Clayton Coming to Olympia from New York and England by way of Hollywood, John Serembe and Lynette Charters Serembe have built a life that is wrapped up in art and family and community. John is an actor and a graphic artist, greatly admired for his performances with Harlequin Productions, Theater Artists Olympia, Animal …

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  • Picturing the Pandemic at Childhood’s End
    by Alec Clayton Despite the horrors depicted in her latest artworks — devastating fires, a murderous pandemic and the final year of the Trump administration — there is hope and sweetness, irony and humor in Marilyn Frasca’s art. She and four other local artists were asked to show works created over the past year in …

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  • Visual Artists Bring Us “Closer” at the Leonor R. Fuller Gallery
    By Alec Clayton “It’s fabulous to be Black – celebrate it. It’s fabulous to be any color under the sun – again celebrate it. That’s what brings back dignity to each human being.” This was written by artist Sandra Bocas for the occasion of her inclusion of the exhibition “Closer” at the Leonor R. Fuller Gallery at South Puget Sound Community College. …

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  • Goldfinch Productions to Offer Historic Anti Racist Radio Play
    By Alec Clayton This is monumental — historic — a first for Olympia. Goldfinch Productions and KGY Radio will present “Rachel” by Angelina Weld Grimké, performed as a radio play. “Rachel” is the first play written by an African American and featuring an all-Black cast. First performed in 1920 at Myrtilla Miner Normal School (a …

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  • Olympia’s Glowhenge Lights Up the Dark
    By Alec Clayton On the night after winter solstice when our days were the shortest and our nights the darkest, nine glowing monoliths in florescent colors appeared on the grassy mound beside the lake at Heritage Park and lit up the blackness of night with the lighted dome of the State Capitol in the background. …

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  • Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza: A Radio Project
    By Alec Clayton Subtitled “A Community Comes Together,” the “Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Grand Gala Extravaganza” is a recreation of the gala opening celebration of the downtown Hotel Olympian in June 1920. The project is spearheaded by playwright Bryan Willis, founder of the Northwest Playwright Alliance and directed by Deane Shellman, with an all-star cast of …

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  • pARTners: A Collaborative Exhibit at Childhood’s End Gallery
    By Alec Clayton The “pARTners” exhibition at Childhood’s End Gallery showcases works by three artist couples who live and work together: papercut artist Nikki McClure and her partner, fine woodworker Jay T Scott; steel and ceramic sculptors Robin and John Gumaelious; and mixed-media painters Chuck Gumpert and Christopher Mathie. The show includes both collaborative and …

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  • Good Trouble at Olympia Family Theater
    By Alec Clayton Olympia Family Theater education director Claribel Gross says, “We miss being in the theater and sharing live experiences. We are excited to find a variety of ways to still connect with our community.” One of those ways to connect is with the audio play “Good Trouble,” a pop-up performance experience produced by Blindspot collective …

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  • Leonor R. Fuller Gallery Offers Rising Futures
    By Alec Clayton In the South Sound as in the country at large, black artists are poorly represented. The “Futures Rising” exhibition, at the Leonor R. Fuller Gallery inside South Puget Sound Community College’s Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, proves that there are many more excellent black artists in the area than is …

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  • The Art of Stage Management
    By Alec Clayton A woman holding a clipboard sticks her head into a dressing room and says to the actors, furiously getting into costume and makeup, a single word: “Five.” The actors say back to her, “Thank you, Five.” Five minutes later the platform in front of stadium seats at Harlequin Productions becomes the front …

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  • The People Who Create the Worlds That Make Theater Come Alive
    By Alec Clayton In the world of theater, there are people who make the fictional world come alive, who make the characters on stage and the worlds in which they move and breathe as real for two hours as the workaday world the rest of us live in — not just the actors who garner …

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  • Compelling Clay: Unglazed and Rough-Surfaced Sculpture by Aisha Harrison
    By Alec Clayton  Aisha Harrison is an inventive sculptor and former art teacher at The Evergreen State College. She also does two-dimensional art, drawing and printmaking, but it is as a sculptor of strong and emphatic figures that has made an indelible mark on the South Sound art world. “Aisha contributes so much to our …

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  • Olympia Artspace Alliance Continues Storefront Art Displays Amidst Pandemic
    By Alec Clayton Art of great variety and depth of meaning fill the windows in the vacant Goldberg Building, former home of Schoenfeld Furniture, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way in Olympia. The installation is part of Olympia Artspace Alliance (OAA) ongoing project, Art In Olympia Storefronts. “This and many other installations were organized, paid for …

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  • Theater Artists Olympia’s Digital Performance of ‘The Culling’
    THEATRE REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS In showbiz they say, “the show must go on,” and not even a worldwide pandemic can stop Pug Bujeaud and Theater Artists Olympia (TAO) from creating theatre. Bujeaud, a highly respected actor and director who has adapted many works for the stage, tackled her first ever completely …

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  • The Many Talents of Christian Carvajal
    By Alec Clayton Joining the pantheon of storytellers from Mark Twain to George Lucas is Olympia’s own Christian Carvajal. Carv, as his friends call him, tells stories on stage, behind stage and in print. He is an experienced actor, director and playwright, has published two novels and a collection of short stories, writes for The …

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  • Visually Arresting: The Sculptures of Irene Osborn
    By Alec Clayton Irene Osborn’s sculptures shine a blinding light on what it means to be human, on the tragedy, the triumph, the sadness, and the hope of humans. In her overall oeuvre, sadness, anger and outrage outnumber joy.  Osborn celebrates and honors the naturalness of her media, clay — its slab-like, pliable warmth. She never applies colored glazes …

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  • Amy Shephard, Olympia’s Diminutive Spitfire
    By Alec Clayton Local storyteller and co-founder of StoryOly, Elizabeth Lord, says Amy Shephard is a powerhouse. She should know — Shephard was her StoryOly co-founder. StoryOly is Olympia’s premiere story-telling slam. Locals brave the stage at Rhythm & Rye once a month to tell stories — the rule is they must be true stories. …

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  • Creative Minds: The Collage Art of Sharon Styer and Gail Ramsey Wharton
    By Alec Clayton Sharon Styer, whose work was exhibited in Harlequin Productions’ lobby during the performance of “Noises Off,” and Gail Ramsey Wharton, who recently conducted a Zoom studio tour as part of the “SPSCC Creative ‘Something’,” are collage artists. They share similar sensibilities and humor. Both artists can be wacky at times, sometimes in …

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  • Evolving Artist Becky Knold on Cardboard, Roofing Paper and Collages
    By Alec Clayton Becky Knold was a late blooming artist. She didn’t start painting seriously until she retired from teaching in 2006. Her only formal training had been a few classes at The Evergreen State College. She learned by doing and by looking at the art of others as much as possible. Once she started, …

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  • Harro Art: For Love of the Sound
    By Alec Clayton Harro, who goes by the one name only — like Prince or Pink or Adele — is an Olympia artist.  In his own words, he says, “Harro grew up street smart dodging ferry traffic on the salty shores of Mukilteo, in Snohomish County. His love for the unique Puget Sound environment is evident in his work. Where …

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  • Art in Flight: The Creations of Chris Maynard
    By Alec Clayton Olympia’s Chris Maynard is a marvel. He makes art of a kind seldom if ever seen anywhere else. He makes images of birds and places them in shadow boxes. Often the birds are in flight and in combination with totem-like formations and abstract or stylized scenes, and everything in the boxes is …

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  • Teri Bevelacqua: Acrylics, Encaustics and Billboards, Oh My!
    By Alec Clayton Imagine a billboard that is a work of art — not just a commercial that’s artistic, but an actual painting, and not a full-size billboard but large enough, and lighted for nighttime viewing. That’s what local artist Teri Bevelacqua created for Burning Man 2019. The title of the piece is “From Here …

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  • Alec Clayton: 50 Years of Painting
    By Editor OLY ARTS writer Alec Clayton was invited to do a talk on his art at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts’ Center Salon. He prepared a PowerPoint presentation but was unable to use it because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Center Salon was postponed to a date at which he can’t be …

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  • Color and Light: Value Contrasting Through Photography with Laney Hawley
    By Alec Clayton Anyone who has stopped in at Hawley’s Gelato for an affogato to sip on while watching people come and go across the street at the Washington Center has likely noticed artistic photographs on the walls. Perhaps a group of high-contrast black and white photos of a ballerina in a white tutu that …

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  • Artist Profile: Nikki McClure and Jay T Scott
    By Alec Clayton Nikki McClure’s artistic output is phenomenal. Her paper cuts have often been shown at Childhood’s End Gallery in Olympia and in other venues. She has published many illustrated books, including How to Be a Cat, Mama, Is it Summer Yet?, To Market, To Market and Waiting for High Tide. Her books have …

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  • Hart James: a Layering of Existences Imbued With Intense Energy
    By Alec Clayton Hart James is quickly becoming one of the Olympia area’s most beloved visual artists. People who have not seen her paintings should do so. “Life is a layering of existences. Each layer is imbued with intense energy,” James explains. “My work speaks of this energy and these layers; the current of the …

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  • Local Author Jim Lynch’s Work Comes Alive at Harlequin Productions
    THEATER REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS Harlequin Productions’ performance of “The Highest Tide” is a special gift to the people of Olympia. It is based on the popular book of the same name by local author Jim Lynch, and adapted for the stage by Jane Jones for Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle. The …

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  • Olympia Little Theatre Offers an Equivocal Twist on a Farcical Play
    Theatre Review By Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS “Equivocation” at Olympia Little Theatre (OLT) is wild. It is ludicrous. It is funny and tragic and gruesome. Written by Bill Cain and directed at OLT by Pug Bujeaud, the play is a farcical tragedy, a takeoff on and about Shakespeare (Drew Doyle), who is alternately called …

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  • Number the Stars: A Story of One Girl’s Outstanding Courage
    THEATER REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS At least once in every season Olympia Family Theater presents a serious drama in lieu of their usual fare of upbeat children’s stories told with song and dance. This season’s drama is Number the Stars, based on the Newbery Award-winning book by Lois Lowry, adapted by Dr. …

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  • A Tale of Love and Acceptance: Stop Kiss at The Evergreen State College
    By Alec Clayton “Stop Kiss,” by Diana Son, was timely and controversial when it debuted off Broadway in 1998 at The Public Theater in New York City. According to critic Becky Sarwate, writing in The Broadway Blog, it still resonates today. “Stop Kiss delivers a 90-minute emotional wringer, set to a nostalgic, late 20th-century pop music soundtrack,” Sarwate wrote. “The …

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  • Sharon Styer Collages at Harlequin Productions
    ART REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS Tacoma artist Sharon Styer is primarily known as a photographer whose photographs of vacant and abandoned buildings, among other subjects, are haunting and mysterious. Now she’s onto something new. About two years ago, Styer began making collages that are funny, bizarre and intelligent – often with known …

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  • Hundreds of Paintings: a Visit to Art House Designs
    Review by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS Art House Designs is a large frame shop and gallery with hundreds and hundreds of paintings, prints and other artworks displayed salon style on the walls and on tables and even stacked on the floor. The collection includes hundreds of original paintings and prints by local and regional …

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  • South Puget Sound Community College Gallery to Be Named After Retiring Trustee
    By Alec Clayton The art gallery in South Puget Sound Community College’s Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts will be named for retiring trustee Leonor R. Fuller in honor of her advocacy for arts and education. The dedication event will take place January 24. Fuller served as the chair of the Women of Washington …

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  • Susan Aurand: Realism Meets Experimentation Meets Mysterious
    By ALEC CLAYTON Almost everyone familiar with the Olympia art scene knows – or should know – Susan Aurand’s work. For many years, beginning in 1974, she taught at The Evergreen State College, and over the years she’s shown her art in such local venues as Childhood’s End Gallery and South Puget Sound Community College …

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