Photo courtesy of Mari Ichimasu
A scene from LITTLE OZE, an animation by Ballart ArtWalk's November artist, Mari Ichimasu

Inside the Ballard ArtWalk

A talk with organizers and tour of art in October reveals what second Saturday is all about in Ballard

By Elizabeth Wang

Editor's note: Artists from this article were from the October Ballard ArtWalk. The November ArtWalk will take place Saturday, Nov. 10, at businesses and studios all around Ballard. You can find a map, list of artists and other goodies at the Ballard ArtWalk website, http://www.ballardartwalk.blogspot.com/p/artist-list.html

From animated colors and dark outlines to obscure shapes and felted crafts, local businesses around town hung up and shelved various artists’ works for the Ballard ArtWalk on Oct. 13.

Since 1997, the Ballard ArtWalk has been hosting artists and their designs in restaurants, galleries and stores alike on the second Saturday of every month, not only creating public awareness of these cultural offerings, but also promoting those businesses in the Ballard area that choose to participate.

“As a professional artist, I love working with business owners to create a dynamic and vibrant commu-nity event,” said Ballard Artwalk Board Member and felt-crafter Leah Adams in an email. “Supporting the arts is very important to me.”

With over 30 venues that participate in the art walk each month, artists can hope to attract a variety of spectators to view their talent.

“Whether you live in a Sunset Hill bungalow, or a Ballard condominium, there are lots of venues within walking distance of home,” Adams said. “People come to Ballard to shop, to eat and to enjoy every-thing the neighborhood has to offer. Seeing original art hung in a mixture of venues is an added bonus visitors enjoy once a month.”

Like visitors who can come from far and wide, most artists have diverse, unique backgrounds. Each month, most venues spotlight a particular artist and their works.

Josephine E. Rice, a Milwaukee native, is the featured artist of the month at Venue. Though she works full time as a sales associate at Crate and Barrel, her true calling is being a “full-time artist at heart.”

Having recently moved to the Northwest in May, Rice said she didn’t know too many people so she was able to focus on her projects and really get her signature style down.

“I came here a couple times on vacation and fell in love with it,” Rice said. “It has water, fountains, city and forest. All of the above – that’s what I’m looking for.”

Her boldly-outlined, sharply-colored shapes are organized in a way to represent her perspective of the nature she sees around her. She said taking long walks is what really gets her creative juices flowing and when she goes back home, she’s ready to work.

“I usually go from an inspiration and draw a million shapes that I just feel like doing,” Rice said. “From there I cut everything out and mix and match pieces until it just feels right … they are my greatest satisfaction.”

A lot of art comes from emotions the artist is feeling, and Rice is no stranger to that technique.

“I make art when I’m at all stages, but what comes out of them is more like idealistic wishes,” she said. “They cover all kinds of emotions. Right now, I’m in a pretty happy mode; I feel more productive the happier I am…I want you to feel happy when you look at them.”

Another popular display was Annie’s Art & Frame’s October artist: Mike DiPetrillo, a software-engineer geek by day. Using brightly-colored acrylics and cartoonish figures, DiPetrillo, also known as Mikeatron!, conveys funny, cute and gross themes through his work.

“I really like to make things that make people laugh,” he said. “Taking pop culture and what people know and using movies and video-game characters…It’s fun.”

DiPetrillo shows his obsessions through his art: stripes, mythology, and dinosaurs. But while he finds it hard to put his style into words, he gets a lot of feedback from his audience. With drawings of unicorns and rainbows, chubby dinosaurs and the occasional blood and vomit, there isn’t one word that specifi-cally pins DiPetrillo’s portfolio.

“A lot of comparisons are made to low-brow, popsy,” he said. “At the same time, there’s a sense of darkness to it…Maybe one out of 20 people come up to me and say your work is about death and the other 19 are like, ‘Oh, cupcakes!’”

His fanciful creations were established when DiPetrillo was in college. After being fed up with trying to impress and please others, he decided to just go his own route and draw what he liked, specifically, a chrome toaster with striped, flailing arms.

“I brought it into critique and people were super impressed,” he said. “So I was like, wow, I can start doing this from now on. People latch on when you’re really excited about something and it translates to the artwork. The madness just continues from there.”

The Ballard ArtWalk is a two-way-street opportunity for artists and visitors. With an eclectic handful of talented artists, visitors are able to explore a multitude of colors, prints and crafts. And in return, art-ists get a chance to interact with their fans and the community, who delight in the same media.

“Every month I have fascinating conversations with people who are art connoisseurs, professional stu-dio artists and pedestrians who enjoy the stimulation of seeing great work,” Adams said.

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