Arts Walk is back.
Olympia’s twice-yearly celebration of the arts continued through much of the pandemic in a spread-out and socially distanced form, but this Arts Walk, like those of yore, will be a weekend-long street party/gallery walk.
“We wanted to bring a burst of energy back to the celebration,” event organizer Angel Nava said. “There’s a buzz. People are really excited to be in creative spaces and to be connecting.”
Among those feeling the Arts Walk love is Aimee Schrieber, whose mixed-media painting “Unfold,” is featured on the cover of the Arts Walk map. In a video interview made by the city of Olympia, Schrieber recalls the first time she attended the event, in fall 2015.
“My husband and I were walking around, and we felt like we were in heaven just seeing all the artwork and all the excitement about it,” she said. “I’d never lived in a place that had so much support and enthusiasm for local art.”
The numbers tell the story, too. There are 98 businesses and non-profit organizations hosting artists for the festival — two more than in spring 2019, before the pandemic. (Fall Arts Walk is generally smaller; October 2019’s had 70 locations.)
“That’s really powerful,” Nava said.
The intersection of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue will be closed, creating space for performances. There will be activities, including skateboarding, a scavenger hunt and an opportunity to contribute to a mosaic mural. Gallery Boom is co-hosting an arts market.
But those looking for the Procession of the Species will be disappointed. The colorful, primal celebration of Earth’s elements and creatures happened in conjunction with spring Arts Walk for 25 years before COVID halted it.
The Luminary Procession, though, will happen as usual on Friday, April 28, bringing lighted lanterns, festivity and music — by Artesian Rumble Arkestra and Samba Olywa — to downtown Olympia.
Recent luminary workshops drew some people who hadn’t seen past luminary parades, said Joyce Mercuri of Earthbound Productions.
“If that’s any indication, I think we will get a lot of newbies watching the event,” she told The Olympian.
The procession will feature both old favorites and new lanterns, including jellyfish, salmon, an anteater, chameleons, hummingbirds and even vegetables. “This event is for honoring and celebrating the natural world and Earth Day,” Mercuri said.
On Saturday, April 29, one more species will appear: Samba Olywa will perform at 4 p.m. at the corner of Fifth and Washington, wearing the ladybug costumes that they had intended to debut in 2020.
Carol Riley, who coordinates costumes for the drum-and-dance group, began researching designs and buying materials in late 2019.
“After five years, I am super excited to see and feel the creativity that costume-making brings to so many,” Riley told The Olympian. “Even though we will not have Procession of the Species this year, seeing the Samba Olywa ladybugs come alive feels like closure on the pandemic and time to move forward.”
Also back this spring are the city’s Innovation Awards, which honor projects that aim to engage the community in the arts. The awards, launched in 2019, were last awarded for Arts Month in October 2020 before taking a break.
Among the winners are OlyFilm and OlyActing, which will collaborate to make a 10-minute film, “Scene Study,” during the 10 hours of Arts Walk. said filmmaker Janice Liu, who will work on the film with writer/director Becca Hopson and other members of the nonprofit OlyFilm as well as volunteers. The filming will be done at the Olympia Ballroom Lounge, 513 Washington St. SE, Olympia.
Also at the ballroom will be “Ten,” a mother-daughter exhibit of Liu’s photographs — including portraits of the film’s young actors — and paintings, doodles and comics by her daughter Cerilene Dula, 10, in fifth grade at Black Lake Elementary.
“The theme ‘Ten’ does refer to her age,” Liu said. “At this age, there is nothing but potential, and kids can explore all kinds of media. This exhibit is meant to present something of a slice of life of a kid who can’t stop creating.”
Other Innovation winners are:
• Arbutus Folk School, 610 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, which will host a demonstration by fiber artists Wendy Clark and Liz Fry. The artists will take wool from sheep (well, almost — the sheep won’t be on site), Clark will card and spin wool; those attending are welcome to try it, too. Fry will weave it on a loom. The demo will happen from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 28 and from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29.
• Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice and Art Forces, which are honoring the 20th anniversary of Corrie’s death by adding to the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project at 181 Capitol Way N., Olympia, and launching a walking tour of the mural and surrounding areas. Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli armored bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.
• Thurston County Museum of Fine Arts, 509 Fourth Ave. E., a return of the pop-up museum that debuted in October. The organizers of the “museum” will again transform a vacant space into a museum-like setting that will display work by local artists.
• Window Seat Media, 209 Fourth Ave. E., #209, which will contribute to Olympia’s oral history by inviting visitors to tell their stories and have them retold in action by members of Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective. The storytelling project will happen from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 28.
- What: The free twice-yearly event showcases visual and performing arts at 98 businesses and other locations in downtown Olympia.
- When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, April 28, and noon-5 p.m. Saturday, April 29
- Where: Throughout downtown Olympia
- Maps: Find maps — featuring “Unfold,” a mixed-media painting by Aimee Schrieber — at participating businesses.
- More information: http://artswalkoly.com
- What: Illuminated lanterns, including large and elaborate ones, are the centerpiece of this procession, organized by Earthbound Productions.
- When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 28
- Where: Begins at Fourth Avenue and Washington Street, Olympia
- Weather: The event is weather-dependent, because the luminary art can’t withstand heavy rain. But the forecast is for sunny skies and a high of 77 degrees on Friday.
- Get involved: All are invited to participate in the procession. If you’d like to carry a paper luminary, meet at 8 p.m. at Lamplighters, 211 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia. More volunteers are needed, too.
- More information (including the route): https://artswalkoly.com/events/2023/luminary-procession
This story was originally published April 27, 2023, 5:00 AM.