Arts Walk, happening Friday (Oct. 2) and Saturday in downtown Olympia, celebrates more than the arts. It’s also a sort of open house for shops and other businesses.
And among the 91 businesses participating in the 51st Arts Walk are four that opened in the downtown core within the past few months — and those newcomers are part of a larger crop.
“The last year has been great,” said Vida Zvirzdys-Farler, executive director of the Olympia Downtown Association, noting that there’s been a dramatic improvement since early 2014, when more businesses closed than opened. “We’ve had about 25 new businesses come in. There’s a lot of movement in a positive direction.”
And many new businesses are eager to participate in Arts Walk, said Stephanie Johnson, who organizes the event for the city. The event transforms downtown not just into one big gallery, but also into one big open house.
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In fact, the owners of Costume Atelier Masque & Pettycote, a costume shop that opened in June, chose a downtown location in part because they wanted to be part of Arts Walk.
“We really wanted to be a part of Olympia’s arts scene, and we know that Arts Walk is a center of that,” said Ricky German, who owns the business with Mishka Navarre. “It’s awesome that Olympia gets together and celebrates its artists, and we wanted to be part of that.”
The shop, at 209 Washington St. NE, is showing art by Navarre and several other artists and hosting Open Road Productions, whose “A Murder for Old Times’ Sake,” a dinner theater production happening next month at Pellegrino’s Event Center in Tumwater.
The shop costumed the show. “There are flashbacks to the ’90s,” German said, “so we get to see some terrible hair and some terrible dresses.”
And photographer Heather S. Moore will offer an interactive photo booth featuring some of the shop’s costume pieces.
For many, the twice-yearly Arts Walk has become part of doing business.
“People who don’t normally come downtown do come for those evenings,” Zvirzdys-Farler said.
Owners of new businesses typically hear about the event pretty quickly, Johnson said.
“People will say, ‘Oh, hey, you should get involved in Arts Walk,’ ” she said. “We had some new businesses that opened after our deadline who made inquiries, but we weren’t able to get them in.
“Arts Walk is a positive thing,” Zvirzdys-Farler said. “It’s all about community.”
Other new businesses participating are:
▪ Blind Pig Spirits, 222 Capital Way N., is a craft distillery and tasting room producing vodka and moonshine. For Arts Walk, the distillery will host singer-songwriter-guitarist Bradley Andrews from 6-9 p.m. Friday and acoustic rock-country duo Austin Radio from noon-5 p.m. Saturday. 360-628-8259.
▪ Blackbird Mercantile and Trading Co., 430 Washington St. SE, took over from Red Door Interiors. The shop, now owned by Dillinger’s proprietors Lela Cross and Sandy Hall, still sells furnishings, gifts and home decor, and has added wine and liquor. For Arts Walk, the shop will show oil paintings by Marlee Dauenhauer Smith. 360-357-7799.
▪ Our Table, 406 Fourth Ave. E., a chef-owned restaurant focusing on locally sourced food. The restaurant is normally open for breakfast and lunch; after closing time, food is available through a window that opens into the Eastside Club Tavern. For Arts Walk, the restaurant will be open late and showing acrylic and clay pieces by Bethany Orr. 360-932-6030.
What: The free twice-yearly festival’s 51st outing offers a cornucopia of visual and performing arts at businesses and on the streets of downtown Olympia.
When: From 5-10 p.m. Friday (Oct. 2) and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Throughout downtown Olympia.
Information: 360-753-8380, olympiawa.gov/artswalk or olympiawa.gov/artswalkmobile. Maps are available at participating businesses, The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, and Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave., Olympia.