While spending an afternoon at the Capital Mall, visitors will not only find premiere options for shopping and dining, but also opportunities to take in new forms of creativity, entertainment and enrichment. Not only a destination for the latest fashion, gifts or electronics, mall visitors can also see a live show, take in local art or check out a library book. With The Artists’ Gallery, Broadway Olympia Productions and the West Olympia Timberland Library all located on the mall’s campus, visitors can find new ways to enjoy a trip to the mall.
The Artists’ Gallery
Celebrating local creatives, the Artists’ Gallery has become a home base for over a dozen South Sound artists to share and showcase their work. As a cooperative art space, each artist that displays their work in the Artists’ Gallery is also involved in gallery operations. Spending time within the gallery, visitors will not only be able to view local art, but will be able to engage with local creatives.
“We want people to come in here and not just shop,” says Kim Hoover, treasurer for the Artists’ Gallery. “We hope that it’s an experience for them. An experience to interchange with the artists directly which is highly unusual and that’s the advantage of being a cooperative, we as artists get to talk to the public.”
Within the gallery, visitors can find both visual and wearable art, from woven shawls, to metallic sculpture, to ceramics. With displays updated every few months, visitors can find a new mix of pieces on display each time they visit. Through the years, the Artists’ Gallery has also focused on entertainment and education, inviting the public to opening events and classes taught by gallery artists.
“I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life,” says Mia Schute, vice president of the Artists’ Gallery. “And Olympia has a really big heart when it comes to art. This town has really been there for us. It was particularly evident the past couple of years. And I am so grateful for that. I’m also grateful to them all. It’s not every day that you have this kind of opportunity.”
Broadway Olympia Productions
At the heart of Broadway Olympia Productions (BOP) is community-based theater and live entertainment. After running large-scale productions throughout its opening season, BOP has since scaled down to the roots of theater, crafting productions in a black box environment.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, BOP has remained resilient as a performing arts organization and has adapted to become a community space for local musicians, performing artists and theater groups. And with an emphasis on local productions, BOP has renovated their Capital Mall headquarters, creating a black box theater that will allow for a range of community performances available to mall visitors. So far, BOP has hosted a range of shows, including from the Aberdeen-based Plank Island Theatre Company as well as a series from local comedian Sam Miller.
“My hope is that it will be a place for lots of artists in Olympia to come and perform,” says Kyle Murphy, managing director for Broadway Olympia Productions.
From this theater, BOP can host musical, comedy and theatrical acts. And in the coming months, BOP plans to host a series of shows performed by Theater Artists Olympia, holiday-based performances, and possibly performances produced by BOP.
“We really want to partner with people,” says Murphy. “I think that there is sometimes a thought in the theatre community where resources can be scarce. This space is something that I desperately want the community to use for a lot of different things. So, the community is invited.”
With the recently opened the West Olympia Timberland Library located within the Capital Mall, visitors can take in a new type of library experience. Viewed as a two-decade dream come true, the West Olympia Timberland Library allows library services to be available to a wider range of residents. After partnering with the Capital Mall to conduct smaller outreach projects, the Timberland Regional Library team has extended services to the West Olympia community by opening a branch within the mall. Since the branch’s grand opening in June, it has become one of the more popular branches within the Timberland Regional Library system by circulation.
“That is something that we are so pleased with,” explains
Stephanie Hope-Cochran, manager of the Olympia Timberland Library. “Knowing that we are providing greater access to services in the West Olympia area and also reaching out to Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor and Lewis County residents at the same time, because they are visiting that mall.”
Housed in a 1,200-square-foot space, the Timberland West Olympia branch offers a range of best-selling books and in-demand titles for all ages and reading levels. Also available to library visitors are computers, printing and faxing services. For younger readers, there are also a range of Vox books available that combine words, pictures and text for a more interactive experience. Located at the library’s exterior (near Total Wine) is a return drop box that is available 24 hours.
“People come in and just walking by in the mall, I hear people all the time saying, ‘oh my gosh there’s a library in the mall,’” explains Brenda McGuigan, librarian for Olympia Timberland Library. “And we’re getting all kinds of people, families, older adults, people with their grandparents, people who have never used the library before. People all across the community coming in and using it for different reasons.”
To learn more about the shopping, dining and recreation options available at the Capital Mall, visit the Capital Mall website.