New Capitol Hill artwalk gathers momentum

The notion of a Capitol Hill art walk is nothing new. There have been previous versions of gallery walks and the like. But with past efforts having faded and folded, one Capitol Hill loyalist is breathing new life into the idea.

Erin Hulbert, 26, considers herself well suited to the cause. She lived on the Hill for eight years, worked at B & O Espresso and Vivace, and now tends bar at Linda's Tavern - the neighborhood, she said, is part of her blood. Last month, Hulbert organized a new Capitol Hill Art Walk, an event that takes place on the first Thursday of each month. The second such art walk is slated for Oct. 6.

Hulbert, an artist herself, came upon the idea while attending a show at Neumos this spring. A friend of hers, a Hill artist, had great art work displayed on the walls. But being placed in a music venue didn't exactly lead to the pieces flying off the shelf.

"It didn't sell because it wasn't marketed right," she said. "I thought there needed to be a better way for Capitol Hill artists and galleries to connect with each other."

So she did some leg work, heading to all the Hill galleries, and, notably, other businesses that displayed artwork, to promote the idea. She found that higher-end galleries were polite, but not terribly interested.

"They told me they had their own thing going. But places like Bluebottle and Lipstick Traces came on board immediately," she said. "I felt like a politician. I had a mission statement and I had to sign them up. I wanted this to be really accessible. Some galleries feel intimidating. We want this to be more T-shirt-and-jeans welcoming."

It took the summer to spread the word enough to hold the first artwalk on Sept. 1. A music benefit was held at The War Room to raise money for fliers and posters. Once a few places signed up many more followed suite; in all, 24 locations took part, with a heavy concentration along the Pike-Pine corridor.

A friend of Hulbert's set up an interactive website that lists all the locations, which should increase the promotional aspects as it becomes more involved.

Hulbert was not too interested in what ills had plagued previous Hill art walks, opting instead to begin her venture fresh. Nor is she worried about competition from the more established (and more establishment) Pioneer Square First Thursday art walk. She thinks the Hill has enough of its own identity to generate an appealing event with a unique character.

"We're different up here," she said. "I think people on Capitol Hill are very interested in supporting local art, are more interested in checking out artists from their own neighborhood."

Venues taking part include Café Vita, The Square Room, Victrola, the Capitol Hill Arts Center, Retail Therapy, Rosebud and the Capitol Hill Internet Café.

"We have a goal to keep this new and fresh each time and I'm really open to anyone's ideas," she said, adding that she expects it to take about six months before the event is firmly established. "There are so many amazing artists up here that I don't think this will be a problem. I'm hoping this leads to more connections and a greater sense of community."

The next Capitol Hill Art Walk takes place on Oct. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, and a list of which locations take part, go to Erin Hulbert can be reached at capitol

Doug Schwartz is the editor of the Capitol Hill Times. He can be reached at or 461-1308.

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