Mid-Century Modern Olympia began as an idea for an art project - a letterpress poster celebrating the buildings, designs and ideals of the visionary period from the mid 1930s to the 1960s.
Now, the project has become an exhibit – opening April 23 at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts as part of Arts Walk – that includes furniture, cars, films and even a martini bar. Films, lectures and tours will continue through May, National Historic Preservation Month.
“As we talked with people about our project and how enthusiastic we felt about mid-century architecture, it became infectious,” said Jami Heinricher, the designer and printer who started the project, collaborating with Katie Egland Cox, who did the elevation drawings. “People started popping out of the woodwork and joining our project, and it’s turned into something far larger than what we originally anticipated.
“And greater,” Egland Cox added. “Much greater.”
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In fact, Mid-Century Modern Olympia is not just the name of the exhibit – it’s also the name of the group, a loose committee that plans to continue working to raise awareness about the era’s buildings.
The group was inspired in part by the fact that some mid-century buildings are being lost, and in part by a disillusionment with some modern architecture.
“People don’t often view ’50s buildings as historic buildings,” Egland Cox said, “but because now it has been 50 years ago, they are historic buildings.”
“We’re trying to raise awareness of how much modern architecture is in town – not only commercially but also private homes,” said Kevin Boyer, the Washington Center’s curator and marketing director and a part of Mid-Century Modern Olympia. “We want people to realize where this architecture came from and what it was influenced by and how it has influenced the city.”
Weather permitting, mid-century cars will be parked outside the Washington Center April 23 to highlight the treasures within.