NEPO 5K DON’T RUN is the (roughly) five kilometer-long art walk that winds from Hing Hay Park in the International District to NEPO House on Beacon Hill, and it’s always crammed with unexpected, temporary site-specific installations and performances. This was the fourth year for NEPO 5K (here are notes from last year’s), and possibly the best. With over 40 works along the route, there was nary a lemon in the bunch. Pieces ranged from goofy to sublime to free snacks on trees. I went not-running with City Arts senior editor Jonathan Zwickel and his dog Edison. Here were some of the highlights.
A staple of the DON’T RUN: Choosing your unique racebib, provided with “Noun That Begins Again” nouns by Vis-A-Vis Society.
There is seriously so much freaking art. Hand-drawn map by MKNZ Porritt.
HOW TO HOLD AND CARE FOR PRECIOUS THINGS by Callie Swedberg.
A very surreal moment brought to us courtesy of CUTIE BEAUTY AND HER CUB-SOMETIMES-CAT IN A CAVE PRAM by Keeara Rhoades. Dressed head-to-toe in shades of turquoise and pushing an actual baby (I’m pretty sure) in a pram, Rhoades was taking Polaroids of “Cub” with with strangers, then requesting that they write love notes penned on the developing images. At first I wasn’t quite sure if this was just, you know, local color. But it was art.
A stone-cold sculpture, uncannily serpentine and intestinal, planted in our path: COIL IV by Francesca Lohman.
Megumi Shauna Arai’s CLOAK: A wheatpaste featuring D.K. Pan draped in a sheath of what looks like fabric—but it’s actually bread dough.
Samuel Wildman’s FRUIT MACHINE—a parked truck filled with old fashioned, quarter-fed slot machines on 12th Avenue—was, not surprisingly, popular.
BOUNCE by Rebecca Cummins was viewable from the 12th Avenue bridge overlooking I-90. Her perfect dotted line created with round mirrors reflected a cloudless sky.
Once over the bridge, a detour through a pocket-size greenbelt revealed all kinds of little sculptures and assemblages in Aaron Murray’s THE HERMITAGE.
Joey Veltkamp and Ben Ganon’s RAINBOW POWER SPIRIT GATE was dripped with crystals (good energy and rainbows free for the taking) and arches made of balloons. By the time we arrived, the sun was baking them to a melty crisp and the suckers were popping off like the Fourth of July.
Edison (aka “EARS”) and Jonathan taking a welcome break on Nicholas Nyland’s REPOSE.
Wanna ride the BEACON/CAPITOL HILL EXPRESS TRAM, courtesy of Kathryn Rathke and Barry Wright? You’ll have to pull your own weight. On one trip, a commuter was apprehended for having snuck aboard with stolen art, kicked off and draped with an ART THIEF badge. It must have been a serious problem on this tram, because I kept seeing people along the route with their theiving shame hanging round their necks.
Saya Moriyasu’s SNACKTREES did, in fact, have tied-on snacks that could be shaken free.
Amanda James Parker’s THE GARDEN OF LIGHT was a little stained glass cottage with shapes inspired by childhood iconography like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Parker needs to get into permanent public sculpture! One of the most delightful things on the 5K, and a great moment for a selfie.
Edison basking in Parker’s LIGHT.
Marek Stepan’s ORA ET LABORA was temp housing made from Dole banana boxes glued together with spray foam. It offered an opportunity to help out and add your own banana shack improvements. Let’s call it community building.
Eirik Johnson’s A WAYPOINT TO CRESCENT LAKE was constructed of pieces removed from a campsite at a commercial mushroom farm in Deschutes, Oregon, which he has been documenting.
THE UNDERGROUND ART SCENE IN SEATTLE, at least as documented by Trevor Brown, apparently comprises of a lot of microscopic, camouflage-inspired paintings.
I cannot recall the name of this performer or his troupe (help?), who were nestled in a grove amongst some bushes in Daejeon Park, but his lumps sure made me uncomfortable.
Thank god for the neighborhood ice cream truck, unaffiliated with NEPO 5K, but—two hours in—so opportunely placed.
Maggie Carson Romano’s PHARMAKON could have been easily missed: gold leaf filling cracks in the asphalt in the middle of 18th Ave S.
Nat Evans, a composer who is currently finishing the final leg of the Pacific Crest Trail (I wrote about his project in the August issue) collaborated with John Teske to score ANTIPHONAL LOCATION, interpreted by musicians playing brass instruments in the middle of a road, right next to the trash.
UNTITLED by Chris Burnside: a massive mobile somehow installed in a formidable blackberry bramble.
ARE MY CRACKS SHOWING? by IIysia Van Deren. Yes, in fact, they are. So many omelets.
TWIN PARADOX by Gala Bent and Nick Strobelt was tucked inside a teeny garage. Sheets of super-thin metallic mylar rippled like silk to the slightest touch and had a surreal fun house mirror effect.
Scattered through the DON’T RUN were all kinds of signs advertising NELSON’S NUT HUT, a piece by Greg Lundgren. Couldn’t tell whether or not he was pulling our leg but it was real. It was, in fact, a nut palace for squirrels mounted high in a tree, a stone’s throw from the finish line.
Which was, thankfully, outfitted with a beer garden.
And just past that, the last hurrah: Graham Downing’s AND YEAH, YEAH, GOD IS GREAT, YEAH YEAH GOD IS GOOD, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. He was handing out advice and blessings for anyone willing to climb up and meet him as his level. See you next year, NEPO!