The focus of Arts Walk is on the art.
But Stephanie Johnson, who organizes the twice-yearly celebration, would like to turn your attention to the “walk” part.
“Don’t try to find a parking spot in the middle,” she advised. “It’s Arts Walk, so park at the outside and walk in.
“Or walk, or take the bus.”
Johnson isn’t just thinking here about the environment or the challenge of finding a parking spot during the festival, which draws about 10,000 people each fall. She’s thinking of adventure.
“Try something new,” she said. “Check out a new business; try a new route.”
With 93 participating businesses, Arts Walk XLVII has a diameter of about seven-tenths of a mile, meaning you can get in plenty of walking no matter which part of town you start in.
“There’ve been years I haven’t done Arts Walk, because we’re a little bit off the grid,” said Cheryl Selby, owner of the women’s clothing shop Vivala, the northernmost participating business this time around.
Here’s what happening at the compass points of this fall’s walk.
Play on Greater Olympia (POGO) will play from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday at Vivala, 111 Market St.
POGO, affiliated with Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO), is an after-school program that gives free music lessons and instruments to students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to music lessons.
“It’s a program of social transformation through music,” said Danielle Westbrook, who’s on the POGO board.
The program began in February at Washington Middle School; last year, 15 students participated and organizers are hoping to serve 30 students this year and to branch out to other middle schools in the future. For more on POGO and SOGO, go to studentorchestras.org.
Vivala also will show art made by students at Mariah Art School.
Being on the outskirts of Arts Walk hasn’t stopped the Eagles Club, 805 Fourth Ave. E., which again offers an abundance of options for those who want to dance, learn to dance or watch dance. The club also will be showing interactive kinetic sculpture by Bil Fleming, photography by Tyler Downes, and acrylic painting by Shelly Wood.
The club also is holding a membership drive this weekend, and the Eagles Clubroom, normally open only to members and guests, will host an open mic for musicians of all ages from 2-5 p.m. Saturday.
Friday’s dance events in the ballroom are Cuban drum and dance with José Carríon at 5:45 p.m., Flamenco Fury with Donna Pallo-Perez at 6:30 p.m., a salsa dance demonstration and lesson with Stephanie Perceful at 7:15 p.m., social dance lessons with Pallo-Perez at 8:15 p.m., and a blues and swing dance hosted by David Accurso at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, Pallo-Perez’s Dance Central Studio, located on the third floor of the hall, will offer free dance lessons from noon-2 p.m.
Call 360-239-9907 or 360-357-3722, or go to eaglesballroom.wix.com.
This time around, Arts Walk extends onto the Olympia Yashiro Friendship Bridge, which a group called Spectral Spiders has warmed up for the occasion with knitted and crocheted “bridge cozies” wrapped around the bases of the bridge’s lamps. (See story on Page 8.)
Living art will be on display at the First Baptist Church, 904 Washington St. SE, where the Olympia Bonsai Club will have its first Arts Walk show.
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing an ornamental tree or shrub in a pot to keep it small.
“It is very artistic in the way it’s shaped, the way it’s planted and the way it’s presented in a pot,” said Dennis Doone, who is organizing the exhibit. “It’s living art because it’s always changing and evolving.”
The display will include backdrops and some Japanese artwork as well as about 25 to 30 plants. The club is hoping to find new members, as well as show off its hard work. It can take a decade or more to develop a bonsai worthy of display, Doone said.
“It’s kind of like watching grass grow,” he said.
Arts Walk XLVII
What: The free twice-yearly festival’s fall outing features a lively mix of visual and performing arts at 93 downtown businesses and on the streets of Olympia.
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Throughout downtown Olympia
More information: 360-753-8380 or olympiawa.gov/artswalk. Maps and listings of venues and artists are available at participating businesses and at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, and Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave. E.