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The concept is built around the idea that you can walk every day, so why wait until the First Friday Art Walk to get out and see the artistic sights and sounds around town?

The Ellensburg Arts Commission, in conjunction with Ellensburg Community Radio, has put together a walkin’, talkin’ tour of historical downtown Ellensburg, blending the information provided by hosts Billy Maguire and Sam Albright with the free flowing music of local musicians to formulate a 30-minute clip that is not only informative, but fun to listen to as you follow the historic path.

“We had an awful lot of fun doing it,” ECR board member Mollie Edson said. “It’s definitely a pilot. We’re looking into having an art walk on campus or having audio interviews with the people doing the barn quilts.

“By adding the local musicians playing music it adds another layer to the local angle. This is a fun way to learn about the artists and it’s beneficial for people visiting as well as people live here.”

Paul Dunn did all the editing, including the music, even added radio footsteps to give a realistic approach to taking a tour.

“It wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without Paul’s editing, he’s just a character,” Edson said.

Listeners can experience Ellensburg art, maybe learn a little something about the history and background of the art installations in a unique way. The project was funded with a grant by the Ellensburg Art Commission.

“They picked the perfect pair for this first downtown art walk. Sam and Billy, being both artists and musicians, are great guides to take us around downtown,” Ellensburg Art Commission vice president Monica Miller said. “The art commission wanted to build in local artists and musicians. It’s authentic to Ellensburg. You can listen to it while walking around downtown. When I first listened to it, I was making dinner.

“I felt like I was transported to the downtown and was having a conversation with Billy and Sam about what was going on.”

You can hear the footsteps, feel the wind as you make your way from the Friendship Park on Fifth Avenue where Maguire and Albright talk about the history of Washoe, the first chimpanzee to acquire a human language and the matriarch of the family of chimpanzees at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University.

The journey also includes the bull on the bench at Unity Park on North Pearl Street. This iconic Ellensburg figure was created by Richard Beyer, the prominent Seattle sculptor who created, “Waiting for the Interurban” by the Fremont Street Bridge.

“We just improvised. We’d talk about a place, then turn off the recorder and walk down to the next place,” Albright said. “It’s fun knowing a little bit more about some of the buildings and going into the historical museum and seeing all the displays in there.

“We really do have a historic downtown. We have different art installations and we have a handmade, stained glass window in the library. That’s part of our town. I think it’s important to help inform people. If we can make a visitor’s stay more enjoyable, that’s a good thing.”

The Pearl Street gallery scene is within steps of one another with the 420 Building, The Clymer Museum of Art and Gallery One Visual Arts Center all on the same block. The 420 Building, 420 N. Pearl St., is a display of iconic historic art deco architecture and art.

The Clymer Museum, 416 N. Pearl St., showcases the Ramsay Building’s early Western American art and local Rodeo Hall of Fame. And, Gallery One, 408 N. Pearl St., is dedicated to the creation, exhibition and appreciation of visual arts in Central Washington.

“The more we can talk about the art the better,” Clymer Museum/Gallery curator Matthew Lennon said. “People drive by different locations without really knowing the history behind it. This is not only educational; it gives credibility to the artists and I’d love to see more of that.

“These pieces of art are collectible and for sale. That’s another way people can support the artists is to come in to see their work and buy it.”

As you take that journey through the theater of the mind with Maguire and Albright, there is a hands on feel to learning. If you’re not there in person. It is similar to various museums in Seattle and around the country where you put on headphones and visit different exhibits within the museum.

This Audio Art Walk is Ellensburg’s answer where listeners can log on to and walk the route as they listen to the information, blended with the music of local musicians.

“When March 2020 came around, all the shows were virtual,” Maguire said. “This whole walking thing was fun. We did a couple of shout outs, like Richard Beyer, who did the sculpture of the Bull (at Unity Park). He’s done the ‘Waiting for the Interurban’ in Seattle, which is a pretty famous piece in the Northwest.

“We walked down Pearl Street, turned the corner and ended up at the library where we talked about the stained glass piece and Hal Holmes Community Center and some of the Washington rural heritage.”

Local art is just part of the presentation. The Audio Art Walk also includes music between segments, featuring original music by local artists like Star Anna, Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, Notable Exceptions, The Killdeer String Band, and even Albright’s song “Jump The Puddle,” which he wrote playing in Better Day, which also included Maguire.

Audio Art Walk is a walkin’, talkin’ artistic, musical journey through the streets of downtown Ellensburg where visitors and locals alike can learn a thing or two about the vastness of local art in a place where nationally acclaimed John Clymer got his start.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at


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