Float your boat at Swiftwater Regatta

Event will kick off a summer of First Friday events by the artist cooperative.

The center of Vashon town may not seem like a place for boats, but Swiftwater Gallery aims to change that this week on First Friday.

The event, titled “Swiftwater Regatta: Float Your Boat,” will invite people to create their own miniature boats from a wide variety of provided materials — such as corks, chopsticks, tape and string — and test those boats out in a wading pool that will be set out at 6 p.m. when Vashon Highway closes.

The July 5 event is the second of four monthly celebrations of creativity that Swiftwater has planned; the series is called “First Friday: Summers in the Street.” The interactive series is a continuation of a similar theme initiated last summer.

“The point is to involve the community in art, and to have fun with it,” said Alice Larson, an origami artist and the coordinator for the gallery’s First Friday events.

In addition to the “boat-building” at this week’s event, gallery artist Mary Jo Svendsen has decorated a couple of sailor-type hats for people to wear if they want to take photos of themselves with their boat creations.

Events all summer

Established in January 2023, Swiftwater is an artists’ cooperative. The gallery has 51 members, and features only local artists from the island working in a wide variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, including painting, woodworking, ceramics, photography, metalwork and materials art.

Following what Larson described as a “brainstorming planning session” by the gallery members, their First Friday campaign of events kicked off in June. Some of the artists created images of sea life, and passersby from kids to adults sat at a table in the street to color them.

In August, the cooperative’s First Friday event will feature a large map of Vashon-Maury Island drawn in chalk on the street. People will be given the chance to mark where they live and add to or enhance the map in any way they choose.

September’s event will occur on Vashon’s infamous Stupid Bike Night, though the theme of the gallery’s event is still being discussed. However, in keeping with the evening, it will feature the return of a stationary bike that was decorated and showcased last year.

The First Friday series is very much in keeping with Swiftwater’s mission as expressed in its motto: “Where art and community meet.”

“I just love the opportunity for the gallery to share fun art experiences and joy with people on these summer events,” gallery manager Kim Farrell said.

Swiftwater Gallery is located at 17600 Vashon Highway SW. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on First Friday). The First Friday art events will start when the street is closed to traffic.