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Not your neighbor’s junk

The Olympia Artists’ Garage Sale offers unique wares for a great cause

POSSCA Artists' Garage Sale: Find art stuff there

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You never know what you're going to find at a garage sale, from antique lamps to half-used bottles of hand lotion to pottery ashtrays lovingly crafted by children.

But at the Artists' Garage Sale, happening Saturday in Olympia, you do know that whatever you find will be art-related.

"There are not just a bunch of pots and pans and old candles and stuff like that," says Cassie Welliver, past president of Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts, which is holding the sale. "It's actual art and supplies. A few years ago, there were a few people who just brought huge amounts of stuff. There were some fishing poles and things like that, and we cracked down."

The Artists' Garage Sale was originally launched by the City of Olympia and co-produced with POSSCA. This year marks the first time POSSCA will run the sale itself, and the organization is asking shoppers for a $1 minimum donation toward its scholarship fund for high school seniors interested in arts education. Between donations and booth fees, the goal is to raise a few thousand dollars, Welliver says.

"We are really excited to have the opportunity to carry this on since the City of Olympia is no longer involved," says Heather Christopher, the sale coordinator.

While charging admission for a sale might sound odd, this is not your next-door neighbor's garage sale.

"We have people bringing photography, pottery, lots of handmade jewelry, original art, art books, art supplies, CDs and records and kids' art supplies, and there's somebody bringing antique fabric," Christopher says. "A lot of people are bringing their original art to sell."

"A lot of well-known artists participate," Welliver says. Among the familiar names this year are Bridget Irish, Sarah Utter, Mimi Williams and Heather Taylor Zimmerman.

"You can get some real deals that are original work by well-known artists, just smaller pieces or maybe they weren't as happy with those pieces," she says. "People tend to bring things that are in the under-$200 range."

Sarah Utter, for example, will be selling letterpress prints created at Community Press in downtown Olympia. Many feature such familiar song lyrics as "Your kiss is on my list" and "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy."

"They will be $10 unframed or $15 framed," she says. "I'd like to keep things within garage-sale prices."

Irish will offer postcard prints of her photography.

The sale features 70 booths, some with items from more than one artist, and about 1,300 shoppers visit the sale each year.

"It is such a great atmosphere," Welliver says. "There is such a great feeling when all these artists get together with everybody who comes to see them. It's like the happiest garage sale you've ever been to."

Does it really feel like a garage sale, though?

"I think it feels better, frankly," she says. "It's this big open space. It's so vibrant. The armory is like a big gymnasium, so it's nothing fancy, but it's so full of people and stuff.

"It doesn't have that kind of grungy garage-sale feel to it."

POSSCA Artists' Garage Sale

Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
$1 minimum donation to Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts suggested
National Guard Armory, 515 Eastside St. SE, Olympia

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