Capitol Hill Block Party's first-ever visual art program came from Laurie Kearney's bathroom.
"I had the idea in the shower, like about February or March," says Kearney, who has been independently curating around the city for the last five years. "I was like, 'You know, I want to curate Block Party this year.' Because I've gone for the past five or six years, and I've always felt like that was missing. So I sent an e-mail to Jason [Lajeunesse, producer] saying, 'If I can get a good group together, could I do this?'"
That's all it took—well, plus months of scrambling. But Kearney already had the connections to artists. In addition to her itinerant work, since 2010 she's spent most evenings presiding quietly at her little gallery by the name of Ghost in the former Crawl Space site on Denny. As its name implies, the gallery is unassuming and agile, packed with art, jewelry, clothing, and even furniture; if you don't find something you want there, you just haven't been in every corner.
For "All-Brow Visual Arts" at the Block Party, Kearney assembled a lineup of 22 local artists working in materials ranging from laser-cut moss to photographs printed on aluminum to video mapped onto sculpture.
Celeste Cooning's ornate white paper banners—six or eight of these large, formal, fragile things—will blanket a span of half a block along Pike, turn the corner, and march down 10th. (Kearney originally wanted a huge one to be strung across Pike, heralding the main entrance, but the fire department said no.)
Neddy Award–winning painter Stacey Rozich—"She was the first one I thought of when I started putting this idea together," Kearney says—will be part of every headlining performance. Her mythical creatures will dance around on the main stage on the surfaces of two 23-foot scrim banners; don't be surprised if they actually seem to move.
Derek Erdman's six-by-eight-foot freestanding painting has face-holes: Depending on which hole you stick your face through, you can be a citizen or you can be the police officer pepper-spraying that citizen. At 11th and Pine, Specs Wizard will paint a live mural all day Friday. Rachel Ratner and Keith Whiteman drew a new Seattle Band Map, like a family tree, and you're invited to add to it as it hangs outside the Cha Cha; after the weekend is over, the artists will incorporate the new branches to create another iteration of the living map.
"We're still waiting to get permission for this, but it's 90 percent going to happen": That's Allison Kudla's 30-by-12-foot mural, made out of moss, on the massive cement wall outside Havana. And artist/technologist/DXArts wizard Meghan Trainor—who creates art where you make things happen with your mind—will be doing something, nobody knows quite what, involving kinetic headsets, brain waves, and a boxing ball she punches. "She's, like, on another level." Like Block Party this year.