Spring Arts Walk opened with a hailstorm Friday evening, but it didn’t take long before downtown Olympia was bustling with art, music and more.
The twice-annual event brings together businesses, artists and performers for a celebration of all things art. From the start, live bands and orchestral groups played renditions of popular tunes, artists dabbed technicolor landscapes onto canvases, and kids frolicked in the middle of Washington Street with soap bubbles.
Saturday’s festivities will feature more of the same, including the legendary Procession of the Species, a spectacle that draws about 3,000 participants and 30,000 spectators. The procession is a creative ode to the natural world, with plenty of homemade costumes.
Art can include food, too. Among the newcomers to this year’s Arts Walk is Olympia Olive Oil. Store owner John Hoehne wanted to go beyond paintings and mosaics by stimulating the taste buds of visitors.
Aside from a range of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, there were two chefs showing off their culinary wizardry: John Clark carved melons into a fish collage while Edward Lintott served hors d’oeuvres and vinegar spritzers. Culinary students from South Puget Sound Community College will do a demonstration on fruit-and-veggie garnishes Saturday at the store.
A few blocks away, a flash mob gathered in the gazebo at Sylvester Park to sing “Dona Nobis Pacem,” which is Latin for “Give Us Peace.” Near the end of the song, the rain and hail stopped, and a double rainbow arched across the eastern sky. The singers included members of the Olympia Peace Choir, who will join an expected 100 people for songs of peace starting at noon Saturday at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
Although the majority of Arts Walk activities are downtown, there are a few off the beaten path. Olympia artist Bil Fleming displayed his latest work, “Interactive Nude Self-Portraits,” at Media Island on Adams Street. Four of his poster-sized photos depicted Fleming in various states of nudity and struggle.
The standout poster, titled “Cold Empathy,” shows Fleming naked in a wintery scene with a hood over his head, striking a pose that’s similar to the infamous photos of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Fleming said the exhibit was intended only for Friday, although he may consider showing it Saturday.
“If I didn’t have something to interact with,” he said, referencing a piece of paper on the poster that covered the subject's groin, “then people would be disappointed.”
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869