Arts Walk is Back

by Alec Clayton

Arts Walk is back! Covid never completely defeated Olympia’s Arts Walk, but in the spring of 2020 it was changed to a socially distanced “Arts Watch,” a virtual event. 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. Unfortunately, the popular Procession of the Species will not happen this year.

The first Arts Walk map, 1990

The first Arts Walk was November 9, 1990. According to Angel Nava, Arts Program Specialist, Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation, Jeanne Allan and the Olympia Film Society came up with the concept. “As I understand it, one of their film festival openings (presumably before 1990) created the downtown business turned art gallery for the evening concept, and the Arts Commission kept it going.” 

“Pier,” painting by Susan Christian

Years earlier, according to Roxanna Groves, “Jeanne Allen had the original idea of staging a gallery walk like Seattle was doing at the time; which our small band actually pulled off in October of 1984.” Instigators included Allen Groves, Nancy Sigafoos, Candy Street, Cappy Thompson, June Marsh, Tom Anderson and Mansion Glass, Mark Fuller, Tucker Petertil, Michael Dickter, Ron and Susan Carlson, Mariko Marrs, Corinne Landrieu, Susan Parish, Carl Cook and more.

Aimee Schrieber, photo courtesy of the artist

Artists for each bi-annual Arts Walk are selected yearly and commissioned by the City to create a new, original work of art to be featured on the event poster and its other various publications. The two commissioned artists for this year’s Arts Walks are Aimee Schrieber, featured this spring, and Jennifer Kuhns for the fall Arts Walk.

“This Old World” by Susan Aurand

Schrieber’s cover art is a painting titled “Unfold.” It is an 18-by-18-inch acrylic painting on wood featuring a garden tiger moth with a gold leaf halo and delphinium flowers. “I used local natural elements with high-contrast shapes and complementary colors to create visual impact and celebrate the expansive possibilities of spring,” the artist said. “The Rilke quote ‘I want to unfold . . . because where I am folded, there I am a lie’ inspired the title for this piece and encapsulates my intention to use art as a means of understanding and connecting with myself and others. Like springtime, painting is a type of unfolding that brings to life previously unseen realities inside and around me.”

“Stay Here” by Marilyn Frasca

As a self-taught artist and gallery director at The Copper Wolf Tattoo Studio & Art Gallery in Tumwater, Schrieber loves examining nature and says she is inspired by the lands, creatures, and cultures of the world. “Insects in particular have always fascinated me with their otherworldly colors, intricate forms, and evocative symbolism. These winged muses help me explore the energy of change and the interconnectedness of everything, and I enjoy elevating them with metallic halos, jewel-toned paint, and surreal scale. I focus on natural symbols of hope, transformation and possibility like moths and flowers because they show us that there is beauty, flight, and transformation on the other side of dark cocoons, dark winters, and dark soil. It is my hope that my artwork becomes a vibrant reminder to trust the transformational and creative process.”

“Portrait,” collage and acrylic paint by Gail Ramsey Wharton

Unity within diversity is an almost sacred principle in all of the arts from film to dance to novels and painting. In life, unity within diversity is paramount, as people of all ages, colors, and ways of life share this earth. We see it in all aspects of Olympia’s Arts Walk. In fine crafts works of all sorts from Arbutus Folk School on display at Olympia Federal Savings. Appropriately in the toy store Captain Little’s displays artworks by students at Eastside Cooperative Preschool. In Nikki McClure’s folksy cut-paper art and calendar art at Browsers Bookshop. In the ballet and tap dance, Butah dance and divination, and flamenco (with audience participation) at the Olympia Center and Bandha Room. At Olyphant Art Supply’s show of winners from its spring art contest “Hidden Details.” In Harro Scharbau’s metal patina and mixed media sculpture and Mark Solberg’s photography plus artworks from a surprise guest artist at Octapas Cafe. In the gathering of the absolute elite of Olympia art: Marilyn Frasca, Susan Christian, Susan Aurand, Gail Ramsey Wharton, and films by Sally Cloninger at Childhood’s End Gallery. And in readings from fiction, nonfiction and poetry with book signings at Courtyard Antiques & Home Décor.

Metal art by Harro Scharbau

There will be plenty of art and entertainment of all sorts from works by the youngest of beginners to experienced professionals on display all over downtown — to play on the recent movie title, it will be everything all over town all at once.

Lynette Charters Serembe distributing OLY ARTS’ Art Walk 2023 print edition

Spring Arts Walk 2023

Multiple venues downtown Olympia

April 28, 6-9:30 p.m.
April 29, 12-6 p.m.



Pick up your free copy of the special OLY ARTS’ Arts Walk Spring 2023 print edition, downtown and in other Olympia venues.

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