Giving the natural world a greater presence in our streets...
Excerpts from: "An artist’s point of view," by Jane E. Herrold, July 7, 2002|
The Procession of the Species
I have seen the dark underbelly of society and it is delightfully colorful. The place: Olympia, WA; the time: Earth Day 2002.
"...an eruption of bamboo, streamers, pipe cleaners, glitter, peacock feathers, cardboard and papier-mache rolled through town as the Procession of the Species got going." (The Olympian, the day after) Eight years old, the annual parade/street pageant has been dubbed "the jewel in Olympia’s capital crown" by AAA’s Washington Journey Magazine.
Twice a year, Olympia lights up its evening streets for a doable art walk. In April, the Olympia Arts Walk features a spanning Renaissance Faire-caliber cavalcade of homemade delights. The Procession of the Species (put on by Earthbound Productions and volunteers galore, in conjunction with Olympia Spring Arts Walk), is an original Olympia brainchild, and has caught on internationally as an Earth Day tribute "for and by the community." (Earth, fire, water, and air, oh my!)
There are only three rules for entries: no motorized vehicles, no live animals, no printed words. The march is a gallant, opulent attempt to give the natural, organic world a more obvious presence in the city’s streets. It actually seems to do just that, too. Color! Imagination! Freedom to express one’s creativity!
Months before the "big day" potential participants can attend workshops galore on papier-mache, glitter control, recycled wares, foam construction, and everything in between. Organizers amass tools, materials, ideas and back issues of National Geographic to goose the imagination.
Upon closing the streets, Oly police passed out sidewalk chalk by the five-gallon bucket, as we, the observers, waited along the trajectory. We also got to participate by decorating the parade route, and anxious "arteests" descended like locusts...no one was excluded from Olympia’s Procession of the Species.
The (Procession) itself was a huge, unique, moving art exhibit. All personal floats were mounted on an array of wheeled walkers, wagons, people’s heads and shoulders, shopping carts, bamboo poles, wheelbarrows, stilts, baby strollers, and bikes.
There were cats with catpaw mojo rattles, a giraffe family, rolling buffalo, elephants with dryer-hose noses and five-gallon bucket feet, monkeys, a zebra marching band, street size spider, stand of old growth trees, an ostrich in ruffled pantaloons, flying bats, slithering snakes, a mammoth peacock with batik feathers to scale, flock of seagulls, school of fish, fire minions and monsters, a parrot-decorated samba band, a pterodactyl with eggs, starfish, jellyfish, flamingo, penguin with CD eyes, and a spectacular life-sized, hand-carried whale...to name a few.
The art studio arena was right next to my friend Tim’s house, so we cruised over to check out the bugs, hyenas, alligators, and squid in progress. I felt a rush of joy run through me when I saw they had a glitter recycling funnel all set up. I love glitter! It takes me back to the days of yore, as costume supervisor for Portland’s famed Storefront Theater for one hundred years in the 80s. I often yearn for the roar of the greasepaint and smell of hot glue. These works in progress made my creatively bored heart sing. Somewhere between cut-out, school-made Halloween costumes and "Lion King" award winners, the whole shindig occupies a charm all its own.
SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE
I walked away from my visit to the Procession of the Species with a warm-fuzzy feeling in my jaded old soul and some color behind my eyes. I want to enlist next year! Care to join me in a creativity surge, anyone?
Email me: CafeVaquera@hotmail.com