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Jill Carter’s “CoHo Ho” Salmon Art Installation, Unveiled at LoveOly Winter Fest, Celebrates the Return of the Light
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Jill Carter’s “CoHo Ho” Salmon Art Installation, Unveiled at LoveOly Winter Fest, Celebrates the Return of the Light

LoveOly Winter Fest was a kickoff to Downtown for the Holidays and took place on November 28

On Sunday, November 28, 2021, at LoveOly Winter Fest, the Olympia Downtown Alliance unveiled an art installation called “CoHo Ho,” created by local artist Jill Carter. In addition, the Alliance, in partnership with Jill Carter and Dave Sederberg created a projected salmon image on the walls of the old furniture building on 4th and Capitol.

How the Salmon are Constructed
The “CoHo Ho” are lightboxes made of plywood, corrugated plastic, lots of LEDs, Christmas lights, and translucent paint. Each of the four salmon installed downtown is unique, measures roughly 6’x8’, and is mounted to the trees on welded steel brackets. The Alliance, with financial support from the PBIA, initiated this project to support a festive downtown environment during the holidays. Each year, the Alliance endeavors to layer on more levels of downtown décor, including the popular nutcracker selfie stations.

A Collaboration of Artists
The CoHo Ho project is a collaboration between Jill Carter, Natalie Coblentz and David Nowitz. Jill has a long Olympia career as a theatrical scenic designer and solves creative challenges. Jill is the resident designer for Olympia Family Theater (OFT) and has collaborated with David Nowitz, the Scenic Engineer, for years, making all kinds of theater magic come to life. Natalie Coblentz has also done some mural painting at OFT and is the Artist in Residence at Arbutus Folk School (neighbors of Olympia Family Theater) and also has a long career of making unique art installations sculpting with light, mainly in San Francisco. They relocated to Olympia a few years ago.

Jill Carter's Background & Olympia's Art Community
Jill started her Olympia theater design career working with Ballet Northwest’s production of Nutcracker in 1986. She has since designed several ballets for them, including designing the Nutcracker for them twice, currently on stage on the Main Stage at the Washington Center.

Salmon, Holiday Trees & LED Projections
Jill collaborated with Dave Sederberg from Pacific Stage and the Downtown Alliance on more creative ideas on ways to have a unique 'tree lighting’ event to kick off the holiday season. After throwing several ideas around that seemed like very typical holiday themes, Jill thought they should go in a more unique “Olympia” direction and said we should have salmon swimming down the street with Santa hats on. The idea began to spawn from there.

“The downtown has been dark for so long during this pandemic,” said Jill. “I thought it would be a fitting tribute to celebrate the return to our downtown, just like the salmon that return from Puget Sound to the Deschutes River every year. I design with light often and was excited to collaborate with Dave Sederberg to wrap the blank walls of the old furniture building on 4th and Capitol with light using a theatrical gobo method of projecting patterns, but using a high-powered LED projector,” she said.

Jill started a series of illustrations putting whimsical knitted caps on chickens, dogs and raccoons and now salmon, primarily due to her mother’s long knitting career and her love of Fair Isle knitted patterns. The illustration style of the CoHo Ho is based on a technique known as Zentangle or a meditative practice of doodling bold, structured repetitive patterns inside shapes. Jill uses a blend of digital tools and hand drawing to create her unique illustrations.

Jill primarily fills her time with graphic design and illustration for various NW distilleries, restaurants and companies and is looking forward to theater making its way back to being live and in-person again and designing exciting new creative theater magic to delight audiences of all ages at Olympia Family Theater.

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