Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Customized scares dominate ArtWalla haunted house

Trick-or-treating this Halloween won’t be the only thing to do in Walla Walla.

ArtWalla, a nonprofit art agency, will be putting on a Haunted House at the historic O’Donnell Building on Oct. 25, 30 and 31.

With both a family friendly section and a ‘scare your socks off’ section for the more daring, the Haunted House will be open for two nights, closing with an all-ages Halloween party at 26brix at 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, along with live Brazilian music by Eduardo Mendonca.

ArtWalla has been around since 1992. It is a nonprofit art agency that promotes and celebrates access to art in the community.

“Primarily, this is accomplished through our Art in Public Places Program in which we raise money, purchase public art and donate it to the City of Walla Walla.  It is through our efforts that many of the public sculptures have been placed on the streets of downtown,” said ArtWalla director, Jeana Garske.

To raise money this year, ArtWalla took a different approach. There hasn’t been a haunted house event in Walla Walla for several years.

“A board member had seen a haunted house done in a small community in Montana last year put on by a school for a fund-raiser that was very successful,” said Garske. “We discussed the idea as a board and decided to give it a try.” 

Rob Robinson, the president of the Art Walla board and owner of Building Dynamics, LLC, and Mark A. Anderson, treasurer and president of the Walla Walla Foundry, are responsible for the set-up of the haunted house.

Robinson and Anderson are planning and implementing what Garske calls a “three-dimensional experience” in the haunted house, with a family-friendly side and a scary side so that patrons can decide how scared they want to be.

Musician Eduardo Mendonca, who will be performing at the 26brix party, plays different styles of Brazilian music including Sambas and Bossa-Novas, along with other rhythms not well-known outside of Brazil.

He will also be holding two rhythm/drumming workshops, at Blue Ridge Elementary and Garrison Middle School for students.    

“My goal on my school programs is to bring to the classroom many different aspects of Brazil in a fun way,” said Mendonca. “Depending on the grade level, and number of students per class, the content and strategies change. Implementing team work and the use of art as an educational tool are the strongest part of my school program.”

The integration of art and education shows the diversity of Walla Walla as an art community, and Walla Walla has been praised as one of the ‘Best Small Art Towns’ in a few John Villani books.

“Last year at the Washington State Cultural Congress, I presented our Art in Public Places Program to many community leaders across the state because other areas would like to duplicate our efforts,” said Garske.

“Art in Education is another program in which we provide educational experiences to the community through art…We provide public art tours and information about the City’s collection on our Web site: artwalla.com as well as a fun Public Art Scavenger Hunt,” said Garske.

The prominence of the art community is visible throughout Walla Walla, from the Sweet Onions on Parade to the current ‘Art in Public Places’ project, the Windows on the Past mural in Heritage Park.

ArtWalla’s first big mission was saving the 1902 Odd Fellow Temple from being demolished, but with the help of sponsors like the Baker Boyer Bank, the building was dismantled block by block.

“Because the Facade used to be a building it contains empty window niches.  Four years ago we decided that it was time to ‘fill-in’ the windows.  We have identified 17 various cultural/ethnic groups which are part of the history of Walla Walla from 1850-1950,” said Garske.
The mural is made of photographs transferred in an enamel on steel process, instead of being painted. This way, the images are durable and the color will stay on the Façade windows.

“ArtWalla, working with various community historians and Fort WW Museum, identified these groups and decided to feature historic photographs and photographs of artifacts, memorabilia and ephemera from these community groups,” said Garske.

The research, which includes digging into archives and meeting with community members or descendants of the long-time families in Walla Walla, is time consuming. Student researchers from both Whitman College and Walla Walla University contribute to the research efforts.

Whitman College students are also involved with the Windows on the Past project, helping to research the community’s history in order to find photos, artifacts and stories relating to the project. With help from Professor Julia Davis and the Critical and Alternative Voices class, this collaboration began in 2006.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *