by Susan Fried
Over seven hundred people bought tickets for Wa Na Wari’s inaugural “Walk the Block” fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 16. Attendees were treated to a feast of visual art, music, dance, food, and drinks.
Upon arriving at the event, participants were given maps, chose custom racing bibs with a variety of words and slogans, and then set off on a .08 mile walk through the Central District neighborhood. During “Walk the Block,” they could find work by artists Inye Wokoma, Chloe King, and Kimisha Turner. There were also video pieces by Martine Syms, Sable Elyse Smith, and the Shelf Life Community Story Project, as well as live music by the Gary Hammon Band. Three blocks away, in front of the Garfield Community Center, there were dance performances by Northwest Tap Connection and the Bring Us Collective, with jazz trumpeter Owuor Arunga playing in between performances. There were 15 stops along the way.
Elisheba Johnson, co-founder of Wa Na Wari, told the Emerald that the event was “a total success.”
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Rediscovering the Central District With Wa Na Wari’s ‘Walk the Block’
by Sarah Neilson
On Saturday, Oct. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m., Wa Na Wari will be holding its annual fall fundraiser event in a brand new way. Tomorrow, “Walk the Block” will be a pop-up Central District art walk of art installations, dance and musical performance, video, and food. The outdoor festival will showcase and celebrate the work of Black artists working in a multitude of mediums across a 0.8 mile stretch starting at Wa Na Wari and including neighborhood spaces like parks, gardens, and Black-owned homes and businesses. There will be food and drinks available for purchase, live DJs, and even “artbrellas” — umbrellas featuring work from artists Zahyr Lauren and Jazz Brown.
Community is at the center of Wa Na Wari’s ethos. Specifically, the vitality and presence of Black art and creativity in the historically redlined Central District which, according to Wa Na Wari’s website, has seen a reduction of its Black population from 80% in 1970 to less than 10% today due to multiple waves of gentrification. Located in a fifth-generation Black-owned home, the space itself is stewarded by one of the four founding artists, Inye Wokoma, the grandson of Frank and Goldyne Green, who purchased the house in 1951. Despite the ongoing neighborhood displacement, Wa Na Wari and the people behind it are committed to decentering the narrative of erasure that often gets tied into discussions of gentrification.
“Showing the stories of people that made this neighborhood so great, are still making this neighborhood so great, is really important,” said Elisheba Johnson, Wa Na Wari’s curator and a co-founding artist, about Saturday’s “Walk the Block” event.
Continue reading Wa Na Wari’s ‘Walk the Block’ Fundraiser Will Center Community Art Experiences