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Olympia Arts Walk XLIX

Here are a few Arts Walk events that sparked our curiosity

Abishai Thomas' spray paint art will be on display at Selden's Home Furnishings during the Olympia Arts Walk. Courtesy photo

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Largely because of its abundance of offerings, the Olympia Arts Walk is a bit of a cross between a scavenger hunt and a grab bag.

Local businesses - 96 of them this fall - become galleries for the weekend, week or month, showing paintings, sculptures, photographs and more. Some serve as performance spaces, too. The streets are filled with people and the occasional juggler.

But where to go? What to see? There's the fun.

Pull up the Arts Walk map on your phone - - or go old school and pick up a printed copy at The Olympia Center or participating businesses.

The descriptions are brief, so what you are getting is a matter of chance: You know it's photography here, pastel there, but not much more.

To replicate the Arts Walk experience, we chose a few listings that provoked our curiosity and started exploring.

"Liquid Letters," performance art, China Faith Star

8 p.m. Oct. 3

Last Word Books, 111 Cherry St. NE

Star is probably best known as a visual artist. She created the cover of the map for spring 2013 Arts Walk, a multi-layered kaleidoscopic collage. But she's long been a performance artist, too.

Like her visual art, her performance piece "Liquid Letters" involves repetition and transformation.

She used speech recognition and translation software to compose what she calls "contemporary abstract surrealist poetry," allowing the computer to transform her original writing and then editing the results.

"The music is partially composed ahead of time and partially improvisational," she says. For the background track, she used software to translate it into various languages, had a computer program read the result and recorded it.

And then there are the musical wineglasses.

Her aim: "stunning the audience into a meditative state."

"The work is about transcendence and evoking a state of trance," she says.

Spray-paint galaxies, Abishai Thomas

Selden's Home Furnishings

220 Legion Way SE

The idea of art created with spray paint calls to mind graffiti, until you see what Abishai is actually up to. His paintings of space and skies are bold graphics that pop.

But the paintings, done on poster board, are inspired by street art.

"I was shown a YouTube video of some of the street artists who do spray-paint galaxy art," says Abishai, 17, a senior at Capital High School. After trying it at the Boys and Girls Club, he was hooked.

"I tried different techniques in our garage," he says. "Some of them turned out really well."

He showed his work to artist Eric Fleming, who'd been his art teacher when he attended Nova School, and Fleming helped him find a place to show it at last fall's Arts Walk.

"Eric said, ‘I have this really talented student. Can you help him find a place?'" said Stephanie Johnson, who organizes Arts Walk.

Abishai has continued painting, learning new techniques from videos and even selling a few paintings along the way.

From the appearance of the finished pieces, it's difficult to imagine that Abishai can create one in a half-hour, although he feels slow compared to some of the artists he's watched.

"The guys in the videos seem to have it down to a science," he said.

Sound installation, Ben Kamen

5-10 p.m. Oct. 3 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 4

Dub Narcotic Studio, 802 Jefferson St. SE

Kamen's installation is located in and inspired by K Records' Dub Narcotic Studio.

"K Records has this long history of really great bands," says Kamen, who plays in Aantarticaa and teaches electronic music at The Evergreen State College. "I went into the studio and looked around, and there were all these instruments that have been used on these records that I really love.

"I recorded individual notes from every guitar that was in the studio, and I also took samples of every snare drum and every kick drum."

Kamen will use a computer program to play back the sounds in an ever-evolving pattern.

"I'd like to create an immersive listening environment, a place where people could sit down and spend ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour just taking in the sound," he says.

The installation has a built-in visual component, too - the studio itself.

"People can look at the awesome old vintage gear," he says. "It's a really beautiful space."

OLYMPIA ARTS WALK XLIX, 5-10 p.m. Oct. 3 and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 4, downtown Olympia, free, 360.753.8380 or

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