by Molly Walsh
Each year, Fall Arts Walk lights up Olympia’s downtown corridors, drawing thousands of people to shops, street attractions and to organizations that call downtown Olympia home. And amongst displays of paintings, music and theater performances, the exhibition from Community Print is slated to include more introspective themes, reflecting on local history, while also asking greater questions about life and community. This exhibition will include interactive elements and will invite participation from Arts Walk attendees.
For over two decades, Community Print has helped to bolster the art of printmaking in Olympia and surrounding areas. Geared toward education, local artists and community members have a chance to learn and practice different methods of printmaking from the shop’s five letter presses and other printmaking equipment. Devon Damonte from Community Print said the shop is currently in a state of expansion, working to strengthen community interest and participation while also developing a co-op system for the shop.
“Mostly, we’re here to teach people about letterpress printing and mainly to get hands-on experience,” said Damonte. “To get your fingers on the lead and wood type and turn the crank and see the prints come out. So, we’re all about empowering people to make their own printing and to learn about the craft and the art of printing.”
During Arts Walk, the team at Community Print is set to welcome attendees to the print shop, where featured artist, Hope Amico, will be sharing portions of her long-term community art piece, the Keep Writing Project. Damonte said Arts Walk is an opportunity to see new facets of Olympia’s art community, welcome new visitors to the shop, and is a great way to become more involved in community happenings.
“I feel like it’s about experiencing art in all ways, both participatory and appreciation,” said Damonte. “It’s a really unique, fun way to get involved in both community and art.”
Amico’s Keep Writing Project centers around a monthly postcard that is designed and printed by Amico. Subscribers receive a postcard at regular intervals and each folded card contains a letterpress art print on the bottom half, and a question or prompt printed on the top half.
Participants are welcome to respond to the prompt as they see fit, through writing, drawing, or other creative methods. Once the response is complete, postcard subscribers can then send the top half of the postcard back to Amico to be included in the project’s collection, or they are free to keep the card for themselves.
At Fall Arts Walk, Amico will have a display of postcards and responses from the project’s archive for attendees to peruse. Attendees who visit Community Print will also have their own chance to be part of the project, as Amico will have postcards available so that community members can craft their own responses.
“My project…it requires participation,” said Amico. “So I was invited to have an art show in Olympia and it just made sense to have it during a time where people would participate and interact with the show.”
Amico is looking forward to showcasing the Keep Writing Project during Arts Walk weekend, and this display will be especially meaningful for Amico as she prepares to celebrate 15 years of the Keep Writing Project this coming autumn.
“It’s the 15th anniversary of the project in October, November,” said Amico. “And so it was like a good time to have a show and it seemed like a great way to get lots of people to be able to participate and see the show.”
In addition to the Keep Writing Project, Community Print will provide tours of the print shop, so attendees can view the shop’s layout and printmaking equipment. Artists from Community Print will also be vending printed items including cards, prints, broadsides, tea towels, totes and more. Damonte said the shop loves to hear new project ideas and encourages people interested in the art of printmaking to stop by and explore the space during Arts Walk.
“Community Print is very open and welcoming to any wild things that anybody wants to do,” said Damonte. “It’s a very grassroots organization. In addition to the letterpress, we have a Riso printing machine, which are really popular right now. And then intaglio and relief press. We just had a Gelli plate printing workshop. So, we’re open to anything and everything. The wilder idea, the better. And we encourage people to stop by and check it out and get turned on to printing.”
Exhibition and Arts Walk events at Community Print
414 Legion Way SE, Olympia
6-10 p.m. Oct. 6, noon-6 p.m. Oct. 7