SERRAH RUSSELL She shot photographs on hikes, then turned them into large-format prints she implanted in the city landscape during last years NEPO 5K Dont Run. They were called Whispering Signs.
  • COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • SERRAH RUSSELL She shot photographs on hikes, then turned them into large-format prints she implanted in the city landscape during last year's NEPO 5K Don't Run. They were called Whispering Signs.

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Everything is a surprise at the annual NEPO 5K Don't Run, so I can't tell you what you'll see on the route up to Beacon Hill Saturday. I can't even tell you where the art will pop up. On gates, in alleys, in trees, on light poles, way down in a gulch. You'll just turn a corner and there will be a poet popping out of a recycling bin, or a projection in the back of a parked U-Haul, or a sculpture in the middle of the sidewalk.

And because the surprise factor is the best thing about NEPO, when cocurator Serrah Russell refused to tell me details in a phone interview Tuesday, I was actually grateful to be kept in the dark. She did tell me that this year, there are 52 installations and performances, 10 fewer than last year, to pace things better, and that while there's no overall theme to the show, artists this year seemed especially interested in trees. So look up.

NEPO 5K Don't Run—they don't have the permits for you to run, so, seriously, don't—is a great sprawling thing. This is its fourth year. Surprises I have loved in years past have included Adam Boehmer writing the words Yes Vessel in 60 feet of white sheets down in a field beneath a perfect view of the skyline. Boehmer is back this year. Maggie Carson Romano's here, too, after a year hiatus—her 2012 SLAM was a door that was never open and never closed, suspended between two blower fans, just standing in a sad, empty overgrown lot between two houses in a neighborhood. Eirik Johnson, who photographs itinerant mushroom hunters, promises "a stump to sit on, a shack made of pine trees, and a dusty playlist from the mushroom camps." (More highlights: 2011, 2012, 2013.)

Artists I'm excited to see this year include (but are not limited to!) Nicholas Nyland, Claire Cowie and Leo Berk, Keeara Rhoades, Greg Lundgren, Saya Moriyasu, meadow starts with p, Graham Downing, and Matthew Offenbacher. The fun lasts from 1 to 6 p.m., and then there's a party at the destination point from 6 to 9, with bands, food trucks, and performances organized by artist Alice Gosti.

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I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Serrah Russell's show at ArtsWest (she's one of three artists showing there) right now. It includes this gem.

SERRAH RUSSELL Rehearsal for Reflection, 2014 (digital collage on archival light-jet photographic print, mylar) at ArtsWest in West Seattle.
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • SERRAH RUSSELL Rehearsal for Reflection, 2014 (digital collage on archival light-jet photographic print, mylar) at ArtsWest in West Seattle.