By Jules Prosser
Arts Walk weekend is one of the few times Olympia feels like a real city. One ventures downtown to find the streets awash with people, men selling big sticks on the sidewalk, and musicians performing in what could be mistaken for Pearl Jam cover bands. The few blocks that make up our charming city center seem to stretch on and on, and businesses stay open late to cater to the throngs of hungry art-goers. What I love about Arts Walk (other than repetitive small talk with everybody I know and general sensory overload) is that the innards of downtown open themselves up to all. If you are a boring, repetitive college kid like me, you participate in the general circuit of coffee shops, thrift stores, and bars . It’s easy to forget that there’s much more than that. My focus this Arts Walk was to hunt around for hidden gems—establishments imbued with a mysterious aura that neither I nor any of my friends know anything about.
Salon Refu is one of my favorite places in downtown Olympia. A cozy gallery with gorgeous natural light and hardwood floors, it is a haven for Olympian artists. Many Evergreen faculty and students alike have shown work there.
Michael Dickter’s exhibit “Fear of Flying” debuted this weekend. “My work engages the natural world through this lens. Images of birds or flowers talk to me of connection, of beauty, of freedom, and of the precarious and profoundly precious nature of our world,” Dickter proclaims on his website. His paintings and drawings of birds and flowers drip out of their realms and into each other, subtly blurring the boundary between humankind and nature.
Friday night also offered a wild sound installation by Jean Nagai, an Arts Walk veteran and past Cooper Point Journal featured artist, shown in tandem with the exhibit. Owner Susan Christian and one her her assistants were present, and were happy to indulge me in my gleeful ramblings on art and aesthetics. Exhibits in Salon Refu are worth following; it is undoubtedly a vital part of Olympia’s art scene.
Dickter’s exhibit will be on display through October 24. Salon Refu is located on 114 N. Capitol Way Open Thursday through Sunday, 2-6 p.m., and can be found on Facebook You can view Dickter and Nagai’s work at www.michaeldickter.com & www.jeannagai.wordpress.com, respectively.
Thomas Studio Art Gallery
Thomas Studio Art Gallery was one of those spaces that I would consistently walk by and wonder about. I finally stepped in on Friday night to discover a small exhibit of work by M.W. Lindenmeyer, a Northwest-based artist. This sweet little exhibit consisted of a collection of oil pastel pieces called Theaters, illustrating scenes from classic movies in well-known theaters, and those well-known theaters in their respective cityscapes. On his website, Lindenmeyer comments on this theme: “Michael is fascinated by the built environment: old buildings, cityscape, railroads and industrial artifacts. He strongly believes in the power of art to document, investigate and perhaps reveal new truths about the way we live. There is a strong dose of humor and quite a bit of storytelling.” In these scenes, Lindenmeyer plays with dimension and perspective, leading the eye down streets and alleyways in the cityscapes, and captive audiences watching lively moments in lush theater scenes. He has a strong control of color, evoking feelings of nostalgia and times past. The gallery itself is neat and large, with friendly staff who willingly engaged in a dialogue about Theaters. For all you history nerds out there: Thomas Studio Art Gallery has a small collection of photographs of old-school Olympia that is on permanent display.
Lindenmeyer’s exhibit will be on display until October 29. Thomas Studio Art Gallery is located at 109 Capitol Way N. Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m www.dogboneart.com
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
The Washington Center put together a large-scale exhibit entitled “Invitation to Color” which spans all three floors of this magnificently huge venue, giving it the feel of an established fine arts museum. The exhibit featured paintings and sculptures by the students of the accomplished artist Simon Kogan. Invitation to Color “is about the vulnerable, unprotected skin-off life, sensitive to all,” says Kogan in the exhibition statement.
Landscapes was a main focus, and much of the work was inspired by Olympia; for example, Rose Nicholas and Heather Grob’s paintings of West Bay. The other focus was on the human figure, with many pieces displayed on the second floor, and curated in such a way that evokes a curious, voyeuristic feeling. The exhibit was strongly interested in the movement and nature of color, and how color is a valid subject in and of itself. Invitation to Color was highly evocative of impressionism, a late 19th century art movement which focused on accurate portrayals of the transient nature of light.
Artists include Linda West, Roger Cummings, Jennifer Lauer, Sophie Stimson, Rose Nicholas, Cathy Wiggins, Heather Grob, and Betsey Nelson. Invitation to Color will be on display until November 10. The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is located on 512 Washington St SE Open Tuesday through Sunday, 12-5:30 p.m. www.washingtoncenter.com
Costume Atelier Masque & Pettycote
This venue, across the street from the transit center, was the most intriguing of all to me. Upon entering, I was warmly received by the proprietors, Mishka Navarre and Ricky German, both gifted professional costume designers. Many of Navarre’s oil paintings were displayed, as well as pieces by Renee Dailey, David Hoge, Andre Tudor, and Dan Randall. The space was enormous and well-loved, and the dusky sun poured in through skylights. The real treat was on the second floor, where the costumes lived: here, one finds soft silks, loud geometric prints from the ‘60s, dresses for queens that go on for miles, and everything in between. They take walk-ins and appointments, so the costumes are accessible, and much of the art will be exhibited for the next month. Masque & Pettycote offers internships, a variety workshops, and a reference library. Halloween is on the way, and they offer inexpensive costume rentals for those overachievers out there. Masque and Pettycote is truly a community gem!
You can find more information at www.costumesolympia.com Masque & Pettycote is located on 209 Washington St SE Open Monday through Friday (except Wednesday) 3-8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 12-7 p.m.