Stomping Sunnyland for art, music, racing chickens

Printmaker Erin Boyd’s Red Boots Design is one of the participating galleries at the July 11 Sunnyland Stomp.
Printmaker Erin Boyd’s Red Boots Design is one of the participating galleries at the July 11 Sunnyland Stomp. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The idea for the Sunnyland Stomp started with a story that Alice Clark’s mother told her after her mom returned from a trip to Sweden.

“She went to a friend’s potluck and everyone brought food AND projects they had been working on or just completed,” Clark says. “They hung their paintings in the trees, gave mini-concerts of music they’d just written, poured drinks into mugs they’d just finished, and when she told me that, I just thought it was brilliant.”

Clark says, she and her husband, Edlen, kept talking about doing something like that in their yard in Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood.

“The next thing you know we thought: What about the whole neighborhood? How cool would that be?” she says.

One thing led to another and after hand-delivering registration forms to Sunnyland residents in May 2008, the Stomp was born.

This year’s event, subtitled “A Neighborhood Yard Art Extravaganza,” is 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 11. It’s free, and self-guided, with maps available at sunnylandstomp.com.

Clark first got some anchor artists on board, including Jane Burn and Randy “Fishboy” Clark (no relation). Then she kept adding more galleries until she had about 20. This year, there will be 28 galleries.

The galleries are not all formal studios or work spaces. Sometimes, they’re pop-up spaces in front or back yards.

“We will do the chicken race again, with bleachers for spectators, as well as the kids’ market at nearby Sunnyland Park,” Clark says.

A new addition this year is the Selfie Site Challenge, a friendly competition centered around the “selfie.” Each Selfie Site will feature a photo opportunity, say, a cool backdrop, a cutout, or props. Stomp-goers are encouraged to check them all out and post their photos to #sunnylandstomp and/or #stompselfies, Clark says. Judges will check the sites and present awards that evening.

Live music will be another highlight at several galleries; performers include Amber Darland, Chuck Dingee and Misty Flowers.

Clark says she’s also looking forward to seeing the kinetic bike sculpture at COGnition’s gallery, No. 2; the metalworking demos at galleries No. 6 and No. 11; and the fire show at the Metal Place, gallery No. 28, after dark.

One of this year’s participants is ceramic artist Rob Beishline, who teaches art at Whatcom Community College. He’s had art only once before in the Stomp, in one of its first incarnations, but he loves how the Stomp lets people show off their creative side. Cookie bakers, artists, musicians, gardeners, and creative kids can all participate, he says.

Rena Monteleone Becker was invited to participate this year when her work colleague, Kellie Holmes, asked if she would bring her steel garden art to Holmes’ home in Sunnyland, along with a few other artists. Monteleone Becker started welding about years ago when her husband bought her a class in creative welding at Bellingham Technical College. She ended up taking the class for four years because it was so much fun.

Erin Boyd’s Red Boots Design moved to Sunnyland neighborhood two years ago.

“Participating in the Sunnyland Stomp was one of the first things I did in the new space. I love the community art aspect of the Stomp; each year I set my screen print press with six different screens and designs and do live screen printing for the event,” she says. “People get to choose a print that they would like and I print it for them. A lot of people don’t know how screen printing actually works, so it is fun to show people the process. It has been well received and my shop, The Fort, is always packed.”

Red Boots is Boyd’s full-time job, and she’s celebrating 10 years of self-employment this year.

“I love the Stomp,” she says, “and I love being part of this community.”

Sunnyland Stomp

When: 1-9 p.m. Saturday, July 11.

Where: Sunnyland neighborhood, bounded by East Illinois Street on the north, Ohio Street on the south, Cornwall Avenue on the west, and King Street on the east.

Cost: Free.

Details: sunnylandstomp.com, 360-201-6477.