When I asked about his creative influences, Josh Anderson mused, "I read Marc Chagall's biography, My Life in Art, and he talks about how, in order to truly create, we have to treat each day-to-day experience as if it were art." He and Mariella Luz are living art, their working lives devoted to creative expression.
I've known Anderson for a few years now but Luz and I had never met until a recent conversation at Caffé Vita. She's the general manager of K Records, the beloved home of Kimya Dawson, Calvin Johnson, the Blow, Little Wings and dozens of other artists. Luz is also the brains and muscle behind the Olympia All Ages Project at the Northern, a venue devoted to art and entertainment for everyone, young and not-so-young alike. "Since the second month in our space, we've been able to pay our rent," she says, grinning.
Luz grew up in the "DC hardcore scene" and came up from a job in K Records' warehouse 10 years ago. As a teen, she was inspired by a Fugazi show at the Capitol Theater to believe that "Olympia is a great place (for musicians) to play," and she takes seriously her responsibility to keep it that way. She's grateful for Oly's extraordinarily supportive arts community: "When you have an idea here, people really support you. It seems almost easy," she says.
Anderson is, as we say in theater circles, a triple threat: He acts, he's a gifted musician and he directs plays both musical and not. He helmed Prodigal Sun's production of Parallel Lives, currently playing in The Midnight Sun Performance Space, and he's the mild-mannered secret identity of local performing legend (in his own mind, at least) Saul Tannenbaum.
Oly "really is unique," he insists. "There's a commitment to including the arts in day-to-day life." It's an attitude he wishes were better reflected in city government. He notes admiringly that people like Mariella Luz add "business acumen to creative vision," proving creativity can be - in the South Sound, at least - "a monetizable commodity."