More than 70 artists presented their work to hundreds of attendees at Federal Way’s inaugural “Arts Explosion” last weekend.
The event brought in just shy of 600 people over June 3 and 4, arts commissioner Karen Brugato said, plus another 120 or so during a vernissage Friday, June 2.
Arts commissioner Iveta Felzenberg, who first dreamed up the Arts Explosion event and guided its development, said the show was “very successful” and said she didn’t expect so many people to attend. She thanked her fellow arts commissioners and city for their creativity and cooperation in making the event possible.
Next year’s show at the PAEC is already on the calendar, Brugato said.
“The show was a huge success for the artists, for the people attending and even for the vocalists performing on Saturday,” Brugato said in an email. “Each told me specifically that this is what Federal Way needs now.”
Arts Explosion gave awards to artists in photography, paintings and three-dimensional art like sculptures and jewelry. Winners earned up to $1,000 in the awards ceremony.
The Mirror caught up with three artists that weekend to learn more about their works.
Mischellie Oh painted “Father and Daughter” and “Sunflowers,” two oil pieces exploring the natural world. Both were inspired by scenes Oh and her husband saw while hiking in the Mt. Rainier area.
“Sunflowers” placed the bright-yellow flowers in sharp relief against a lush dark green background; the petals of each flower swirling or swaying as if brushed by a gust of wind. “Father and Daughter” depicted a sweet, simple family moment Oh saw on one of her hikes, the pair in the painting shown sitting and talking on a wooden bench.
Oh, who works in accounting for the Federal Way School District, practices art as a hobby. Through trial and error, she’s developed her skills over the last five years.
“I love painting,” Oh said. “This is my investment for my future, for my seventies, when I retire. This is what I’d like to do.”
The caliber of the other artists displayed that weekend was intimidating, Oh admitted, but she was encouraged by her coworkers at the school district. And she said the event was “a great chance” for newer artists like her to express themselves.
“This is such an encouragement, especially for a person like me, who (doesn’t) even really have a venue to express my art,” she said. “I think this is a really good thing for culture, art and for the city of Federal Way.”
Photographer and aerospace machinist Robert Chism took first place for “Tree of Life,” the eponymous tree at the Olympic National Park suspended in air over a cliff. His work “Space Needle Reflection,” a super-sharp visage of the iconic Seattle landmark reflected in a puddle, was also on display.
Chism reconnected with his high school sweetheart and wife Sun So nine years ago, and she pulled Chism, a self-professed homebody, along for her traveling experiences.
So told Chism he had a good eye for photos, and bought him a “really nice” Canon camera. They started going everywhere together — going up and down the Pacific coast or making trips to Seattle. It gave Chism plenty of chances to develop his skills, begin entering competitions and getting his artwork featured. His next goal is to get his work featured in a gallery.
“Something like this is amazing,” Chism said, referring to Arts Explosion. “Once it comes to you, and you start feeling your own vibe, your own style, and you just hone in on that, it happens for you.”
Reinhardt Hollstein created the genre-bending artwork “The Fall of The Berlin Wall — Beer Tap Painting” in honor of his late father.
“Beer Tap” is almost as if Hollstein squeezed the experience of a bar into one painting. It features a working beer tap attached to a mixed-media depiction of the Berlin Wall, made from spray paint, a collage of German marks and magazines, chalk and other materials. Attached to the sides are a special glass, a Bluetooth speaker blasting 80s music, and “Cheers” glowing logo. The entire piece is battery-operated.
The unusual piece is a tribute to Hollstein’s later father, an admirer of Ronald Reagan who celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall — the concrete separation between East and West Germany during the Cold War. And it represents Hollstein’s own believe that no wall should ever be used to divide people who believe in peace.
“I love the idea that people went over there, had bands, and the German people started taking the wall down by hand,” Hollstein said. “That’s cool. My dad loved it.”
Hollstein has been an artist all his life but made his bread in the electrical industry. He currently sells and codes lighting parts and pieces. In his spare time, he creates off-the-wall, interactive art pieces, like a Jimi Hendrix painting that plays his music in when touched. He calls it a “TAP,” or a touch-audible painting.
It’s part of his ethos as an artist to do something a little different. His next work, for example, will be a homemade gun that launches fireballs.