Community, A Storefront Exhibition in the Goldberg Building

by Alec Clayton

The latest installation in downtown Olympia’s Goldberg Building, called Community features the work of four local artists and is a treat to behold. The theme, a celebration of our local community, is beautifully executed and displayed in a variety of styles and media which melds together as if parts of a single work of art. It will be on view now through the month of July in the windows at Fourth Avenue and Capital Way. Viewers will want to stand in front of the windows looking at the art without hurry. That is the only proper way to view it, a quick drive-by or even a fast walk-by won’t do. This show begs for closer scrutiny.

China Star’s “It’s Just Life After All”

The exhibition features work from China Star, Kelly Watson, Daisy Curley and Aaron Zonka. Each window in the Goldberg Building features a different artist.

Starting on the Capital Way side of the windows is China Star’s “It’s Just Life After All,” four large hanging sheets with photos enhanced by colorful drawings and paintings.

The images are of local people in downtown locations — locals many viewers will surely recognize. There are scenes in a barber shop and café, a bowling alley, such local institutions as Olympia Copy & Printing, people shooting pool and socializing in bars and other establishments. The photos are drawn on and made dramatic and playful by colorful paint.

Star said, “The whole exhibit was conceived for the windows and created in one month from contract signing to install. … Community to me is the people, places and things we interact with by chance. The wait staff at your favorite restaurant, a tree you pass on your way to work and sometimes stop to touch, … shared memories of times gone by and the holders of the tidbits we maybe have missed or can forget about sometimes; the things we long for when the sky is dark and bask in when we forget we are forming the memories at all.”

Kelly Watson’s “Nested”

Next, is Kelly Watson’s “Nested,” sculpted forms created by tree limbs and twigs that look like chairs and other resting places — home and comfort to nature’s creatures. The installation uses a number of both found and gifted materials, all collected over the years from local buy-nothing groups and neighborhood walks. Willow and Red Alder are the primary structural woods, hand-woven into baskets, balanced together in nests. The nests are constructed from the same twigs and branches as the baskets, though they are interwoven with handsewn textile polypores and mosses.

“With ‘Nested,’ I wanted to find a way to visualize all the threads of connection that exist in our communities and in turn, the connections in nature around us. I extended this thought down to the materials and chose discarded and gifted components, honoring the cycles of creation, decay and growth.” Watson said. “The threads of our lives, neighborhoods and forests do not exist in a bubble, we are nested together, our woven woods intertwined.”

Daisy Craftastic Curley’s “Healing Portals”

Turning onto 4th Avenue is Daisy Craftastic Curley’s “Healing Portals.” This jam-packed environment is full of playful dolls with sheerly dressed clothes reminiscent of wedding gowns on sticklike figures on large expressionistic paintings and assemblages and surrounded on the floor by a crowd of people and animal dolls.

Curley said, “I am truly honored to have my creatures and collages in the window because every piece I created has been a healing journey. Art is my therapy, and it is a dream come true to share my ‘Healing Portals’ with our community. I am very proud to share space with my amazing artists Olympia windows neighbors and the support for my installation has filled my heart to overflowing.”

Aaron Zonka’s “The Members”

Aaron Zonka’s “The Members” consists of portraits of people, creatures and monsters, each approximately 3 inches by 5 inches on board and mounted on large white panels. Zonka said they started out as simple portraits of people but became experimental as he worked on them, experimenting with different subjects. First classic monsters, then robots, then aliens, and so on. ”As my categories expanded, so did the space these little paintings took up in my studio,” Zonka said. “They were no longer individual pieces in their own categories but a cohesive landscape of characters and personality. The synergy that came about by merely moving these characters out of their categories was inspiring. It immediately became a single piece that was more than the sum of all of its parts: a community.”

The installation is presented by The Olympia Artspace Alliance, which invited these Olympia-area artists to reflect on what community means to them and propose artwork that celebrates communities of all kinds, “from our natural world and local connections to our global human networks.”

Photos by Gabi Clayton.

Community, an art installation

Now through the end of July

The windows of the Goldberg Building, Capitol Way at Fourth Ave., downtown Olympia


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