By Raymond Street

Many cities host a Music in the Park series, providing space for free concerts and theatre groups.

Normandy Park is a small City between Burien and Des Moines, with space for music located in a place called Marvista Park. Here is an account from my experience of the final concert of the series, which I think is a particular noteworthy event.

On Sundays in July and August at 5 p.m., people come with foldout chairs and find a location in the shade provided by the trees and listen to different bands. There is a Gazebo where most musicians set up, dedicated to the late Art Commissioner Zen McManigal who started and supported the Music in the Park series for 20+ years.

Each one of the bands this season were fantastic, offering their variety and style to the lineup. However, this year Normandy Park did something different for the last show which was Sunday, Aug. 27. This Finale was a concert, but with something extra, something more than a performance. This event was about participation, improvisation, and the artistic capacity we all share.

Thie Finale featured two bands and an art performance group called Botanical Alchemists. Rather than the usual 5 p.m. start time, this event started two hours earlier at 3 p.m. They brought an abundance of flowers from flower shops, river rocks, and their colorful magic from Spokane.

You can also see more work by the Botanical Alchemists here on their Instagram here:

Rocks were laid out to form a heart with mountains, a river, and a Sun. I was a volunteer for the pre-set up, so I had the privilege of setting the stones for the foundation. Buckets of flowers were organized by color and style, and little containers were prepared for people to find their own materials. The first part of this unique art experience was to find a couple of sticks, feathers, rocks, or anything within Marvista Park. Then everyone would create and decorate their own little art piece, expressing shapes or designs they wanted. Then after the solo creation, we would all come together and place colors and pieces in the larger design.

The set up took a couple of hours, and at 3 p.m. the Botanical Alchemists placed a path of petals in the park leading to a dedicated place by the community pea patch. Also, at 3 p.m. the first musician was set up and ready to perform.  Some of the designs created were lizards, mermaids, mountains made of bark, a chicken made of pinecones, and designs of carefully placed intentions. Then at 4 p.m., while Marina shared more of her music, the group design outlined in stones was placed, and petals filled shapes of the river, mountains, and sunbeams, forming a heart.

Marina Albero

The artist was Marina Albero playing a hammered dulcimer with a guitar companion. Marina is self-taught on the hammered dulcimer, and played the most exquisite set of improvised songs. Her style seemed to be heavily influenced by Spanish guitar and jazz. Typically, she plays piano, but today she provided a special treat. While children and families were improvising their art pieces with flowers, Marina’s music filled the air with an enchanting mood. Marina ended her set with a song containing the message “Music is Love”, which seemed to be the vibe of the hour.

You can visit the Normandy Park Art Commission Facebook page for more pictures of Marina’s performances and the creations of the participants of the event.

Marina Albero’s Facebook:

At 4:30 p.m. there was a break, and everyone toured the grass, which was shadowed by the trees. I walked around and took pictures, and made a small piece of artwork myself. I used some painted rocks and flower petals to make a radial design. Besides Zen’s memorial at the park, there is also a memorial bench for pets who have crossed over the Rainbow bridge. Behind the bench there were cable wires with pet tags of furry friends.

The next musician prepared their set, and people took a refreshing moment to enjoy ice cream from Ice Cream Express, and free coffee and water provided by FONP (Friends of Normandy Park).

Then Eric Ode took the stage at 5 p.m. Eric is an author, poet, singer and song writer, and his songs included the participation of children in the audience. He sang about possums, sharks, and the daily routines of a rooster as children jumped, sang, and had a great time.

Eric Ode

One child who participated in the flower art and sang songs said:

This is the best day ever!

These opinions come from the years Raymond Street has served as a Normandy Park Art Commissioner, a grant writer and artist for the Mural Masters Graffiti festival, a previous Burien Art Walk organizer, a painter, a volunteer and fiction writer in the Burien, Normandy Park and Des Moines area. There are many more ideas and experiences around Art, and this is not meant to be any sort of authority on the multiple meanings of Art or anyone else’s experiences.