Harold Balazs in the New Year at Art Spirit, Cda

What do you do when you have a studio bursting with work and the energy of a person half your age? You create your own exhibition opportunity during an otherwise downtime period for a gallery that delights in bringing your work to the public.

Preview: Harold Balazs will be exhibiting new work at Coeur d'Alene's Art Spirit Gallery beginning January 15, a time when the gallyer is usually closed.

What can you expect to see? With Balazs, it could be something similar to the cartouche relief series (left), or the vibrantly-colored enamels (center) or even sculpture (right). Or perhaps something completely different.

First Night 09

Next year I'll have better pictures to post. There will be glassblowing, some guy painting from inside a bubble, henna tattooists, lots of painting and sculpting demonstrations, some pottery wheel-throwing and a whole lot of music, dance and other performance at First Night Spokane.

It's an event I've never gone to before but am going to try and check out this year. You might think watching artists work is about as exciting as watching paint dry but it's really cool. You get to see the process from the ground up, talking to artists as they work, and basically getting the inside scoop as to how and why they do what they do.

Check out their website with links to maps, schedules, artist bios and other important information. See ya there!

Tom O'Day Starts New Year Out at Tinman Gallery

I did the classic double-take when this email popped open on my computer the other day:

In keeping with our current policy of having more hands on art activities along with traditional art exhibits, Tinman has put together a "Mini-Studio Month" for January.  Three artists will exhibit their different art and have weekend activities related to that art.  Our artists are Tom O'Day, Margot Casstevens, Kurt Madison and Summer Moon Scriver and Iris Graville.
Tom O'Day? The Spokane Falls Community College instructor known for his acerbic wit and penchant for blowing things up? INSIDE Tinman's little gallery space? This I gotta see.

At right is a photo from his installation at Saranac Art Projects. And here's a link to the "typical" kind of art this wonderfully atypical artist did recently at Whitworth University. And as Tinman's Sue Bradley notes, much of this work will be suspended from the ceiling or tacked to the walls at Tinman's Garland Street location.

Common Knowledge Bookstore & Tea House is a well-kept secret from most of the outlanders. It's a good karma kind of place, with odors of whatever is cooking in the back and old books in the front of the store. They have a garden outside where they grow some of their own produce in this vegetarian haven, as well as a patio surrounded by oversize sunflowers, prayer flags and the distant hum of Boyer.

A postcard in the mail alerted me to a collective exhibition by Sandpoint-area artists:

Daryl Baird • Jennifer Ball • Nicole Black • Ron Bedford • Charlotte Bond • Laura Calvert-Peitz • Sarah Dickson • Catherine Earle (her artwork is shown above) • Gabrielle Earle • Natalie Fuller • Ruby June • Daris Judd • Kristin Johnson • Lanie Johnson • Carvery Kearney • Brietta Leader • Julie Meyer • Anna Monfort • Erica Nizzoli • Amy O'Hara • Kristina Orton • Holly Pennington • Colleen Russell • Diana Marie Schuppel • Fran Summerday • Chela Turner • Marie-Dominique Verdier • Holly Walker.

Some of the names I know, but not for art, so this ought to be an enlightening show. Through February 17th.

Find the "Lost Art of Handwriting" in Moscow, Idaho

Local schoolchildren will be participating alongside local, established artists in this unusual exhibition at Moscow's Third Street Gallery through January 8. With the transition to emailing, texting and computer-generated print, the art of handwriting may be lost indeed, but not forgotten

Spokane, Washington

The exhibition “The Holy Family,” featuring prints and crèches depicting the nativity, will open Dec. 4 in the Arcade Gallery of the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University and run through March 13, 2010.

An array of prints, spanning four centuries, includes several lithographs from German draughtsman/engraver and lithographer Johann Nepomuk Strixner. Strixner, who mainly reproduced paintings by the masters, was also a publisher. The exhibit features a 16th-century etching from Italian Annibale Carraci titled “Adoration of the Shepherds” as well as an etching with the same title by German artist Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich.

Dietrich was known for his abilities to reproduce masterpieces of the previous century, particularly Rembrandt. Artist John Murphy received his training in painting, sculpture and architecture at the school of the Boston Museum, where he most likely was taught woodblock printing. Murphy’s print “Nativity” will be on display along with Eric Gill’s wood engraving “Christmas Gifts: Daylight.”

Gill, a British sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker, was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. Rembrandt’s 1652 etching “The Adoration of the Shepherds, A Night Piece” will also be featured. Three-dimensional crèches on loan from private collectors from Sri Lanka, Italy, Mexico, and an American Folk nativity from the early 1900s complete the display.

The museum’s exhibitions are free and open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and noon- 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Closed Sundays and school holidays. For more information, please call Karen Kaiser, assistant curator for education at (509) 313-6613.

Creatively Yours: University of Idaho Faculty Works Featured at Prichard Art Gallery in December and January

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery will present its annual faculty art exhibit, which is a celebration of faculty members' creative contributions in the community. The exhibit will be on view Dec. 11 through Jan. 16, 2010, with an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 11, from 5-8 p.m.

Works by faculty from the university's College of Art and Architecture are featured in the exhibition. The media include photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, books, architectural studies, furniture, product design and design plans. The artists and designers will present a variety of styles ranging from representational to abstract, and modern to post-modern traditions.

The faculty continue their creative output. Their engagement with current issues, be it internationally relevant critical ideas or the local built environment, are presented. This exhibit crystallizes their importance to the cultural and intellectual life of the community,” said Roger Rowley, Prichard Art Gallery director.

The participating faculty include:
John and Miranda Anderson, Bill Bowler, Matthew T. Brehm, Val Carter, Jason Ferguson, David Giese, Lynne Haagensen (see image, below), Mark Hoversten, Frank Jacobus, Delphine Keim-Campbell, Jan Kirchoff, Mark LaMoreaux, John Larkin, Sally Graves Machlis, Phillip Mead, Nels Reese, Randy Teal, Greg Turner-Rahman (image above left) and George Wray.

This exhibit is open to the public and refreshments will be provided. The Prichard Art Gallery hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; it is closed on Monday. The gallery, an outreach facility of the University of Idaho, is located at 414/416 S. Main St. on the corner of Fifth and Main streets in downtown Moscow. Admission is free. Additional information is available at www.uidaho.edu/galleries.

Since going co-op this past fall, Saranac has been lining up a variety of contemporary artists, including the latest exhibition featuring Garric Simonsen and Rick Garcia, which opened last week. Expect paintings that challenge the notion of traditional paint handling and use of space. Simonsen's work in particular captures the frenetic energy and multi-sensory feel of what could be the modern mind or urban experience or both.

Masters in Woodworking Exhibition on the Palouse

Wawawai Canyon Winery Pullman, Washington

Artists in Wood: New Expressions

Wawawai Canyon Winery will exhibit the works of area master woodworkers Ben Carpenter, Jim Christiansen, Geoff Crimmins, John Elwood, Bill Hendrix, Ed Krumpe, Kristin LeVier, Will Simpson, Gerrit Van Ness and Len Zeoli. “Artists in Wood: New Expressions will be on display from December 3rd through February 2010.

Of the group involved in the upcoming show, six artists have recently displayed their work at the Dahmen Barn with great success. The group formed as a means to support each other’s creativity and similar interest in wood as a medium. Critique and a sense of vision are common threads amongst the artists. Woodworker, Jim Christiansen (see image, above) has functioned as mentor to many of the artists.

“He makes his shop, his knowledge and his critical skills readily available. We gather around him because of his kindness and support,” said Len Zeoli.

Zeoli further explained how the group is working to establish itself, “Our small band of woodworkers has recently come together to show and market ourselves as fine artists. The long-held distinction between fine art and craft is often about the media associated with it, especially painting. In my mind, this distinction is artificial. Pieces created in wood may be functional—but they may also be significant works of fine art. Our initial success has stimulated us to continue producing new works and to develop a personae for ourselves, which I must say is in its infancy. There is great talent, skill and vision amongst us. People don’t have to go to the big cities to see some of the best work in wood that is available today. We hope to make ourselves known to our friends and neighbors on the Palouse, and to draw people from further away who will come here for the variety and beauty we have to offer as a group of artists and as a region of Washington state.”

Indeed, the pieces in the show range from purely sculptural works to those that are functional…such as furniture, turned bowls and artfully crafted wooden spoons.

LEFT: Rhea Giffin,
Mindful Navigation

Quite a few galleries have end-of-year exhibitions, including Tinman Artworks in the Garland District, Spokane, and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho's The Art Spirit Gallery. Often this is a way to summarize an exhibition year or feature works in a slightly different format.

For Tinman, the annual exhibition often includes the "regulars" and newcomers. Familiar names like Harold Balazs, George Flett and

Some standouts include Rhea Giffin, who had a show (along with Virgina Carter, whose whimsical ceramics are well-matched to Giffin's pieces) at the Tinman earlier this fall but is new to the end-of-year exhibition. Giffin is one of my favorite 3D artists whose work is easily some of the best in papier mache, an underrated art form.

Other new artists include John Blessent (beautifully crafted metal jewelry) and E.L. Stewart (whose paintings are really growing on me since I saw her Dorothy in the Trees at Tinman's Ozvitational exhibit).

Sheila Evans is exhibiting at both Tinman and The Art Spirit with pastels (SEE IMAGE, RIGHT) that are just lovely. Often a painter is distinguished by his/her handling of the medium, specifically the ability to render light, lightness and color in a way that is beyond merely believable. Evans does that. Lovely.

Another artist included in both exhibitions is Mel McCuddin, whose work I don't mind admitting I deeply covet. It's figurative. It's got a bit of an edge to it. Little bits of surrealism. Amazing color. I could look at his paintings for a long time.

Elsewhere at The Art Spirit Gallery, which was packed this past Friday for the opening, artist Glenn Grishkoff showed a series of new brushes that delighted viewers with Glenn's characteristic off-beat humor. Michael Horswill is doing these mask-like wall pieces that incorporate some of his former object assemblage, really fascinating.

Other artists you'll want to be sure and see: Frank Boyden (SEE IMAGE, LEFT), Victoria Brace (her paintings are just getting better and better), Gina Freuen (ceramics with quite a bit of new stuff), Claudia Pettis (odd yet charming paintings of sheep), and Allen and Mary Dee Dodge (whose work I like but not love, yet their latest enamel and metal work shows Balazs' collaborative influence and is a fresh interpretation of the Dodge's vibrant color work).

Thirty-four artists total at Art Spirit and every inch of space carefully and purposefully used. Hats off (as usual) to Steve Gibbs for a diverse exhibit that is able to target specific markets without coming across as schlocky and never loses site of the art in artful display.

Friends invited us up to Holly Eve a few years back, where I bid and bought one of Bill Klein's watercolors at this annual Sandpoint community fundraising event. He's got a nice, clean style, befitting his work as an architect. And while his linework can be a little shaky at times, he has a good eye for the beauty of planar shapes, angles, shadows and textures. Check out his retrospective at Panhandle State Bank Building through February 28.

For more Sandpoint arts news, you're better off googling for the latest Facebook account than relying on some of my links!

Seems like every time I turn around my trusted www links have migrated to facebook, where keeping the website up-to-date is sooooo much easier for folks than having to go through one's web developer or similar third party.

Case in point: Pend Oreille Arts Council has a new facebook page with lots of event news, photos, and more current postings than their website has had all year (or maybe it just seems that way).

Jacklin Arts Center December "Les Beaux Arts"

I haven't yet been to the Jacklin Arts Center but get lots of press info.

Mostly regional/local arts. Community-centered. A nice variety of exhibitions, including watercolor, woodworking, etc. Check them out!

Speaking of anachronisms, Morse Clary continues to use the book form as a "sculptural metaphor," as he describes it. Building on the premise of an open book, Clary articulates richly layered ideas that "read" as story, concept, emotion, setting.

They're both visual and verbal, with titles like Dialogue in Contrast (above) and Crossroads (below). They feel familiar, yet also rarified, old, sometimes appearing like an artifact of a forgotten language.

Clary, a college art instructor for 30+ years, engages the viewer, giving just enough information for us to want to reach out and learn more. His exhibition of "Journeys and Journals" continues through December 11 at NIC's Boswell Hall Gallery.

I love irony. It's one of the most basic yet versatile tools an artist has. James Green works in stone lithography, a printing method founded upon our earliest awareness of stone carving and image making. In his recent works, including an exhibition entitled In Defense of Thingness at Eastern Washington University, Greene explores the paradoxical state of image making.

From his statement: "What are we to make of a culture that considers digital books to have an infinite lifespan but considers stone tablets obsolete? If anything, stone tablets have more than proved themselves capable of survival into the future, while my digital photo files of only 5 years ago are a challenge to maintain and retrieve without some kind of digital corruption or data loss.
For this exhibition, I consider our current technological moment while working with my hands to produce objects that stand out specifically because they are obsolete. I have grained and leveled 12 long-forgotten lithography stones (once used for commercial printing) in order to reinvigorate the value of satisfying craftwork and careful execution needed to perform this obsolete technological process. The objects depicted are things I either own or regularly use to perform tasks. All of them have been outstripped technologically, but all of them represent things that have proven successful at surviving into the future. These objects reflect a humanness and concreteness that is bound specifically to the interest they hold as things. "

He also works in photography, prints and installations. I won't get to his show at EWU before it closes December 10, which is too bad because I was just talking with one of my editors about the lack of exhibitions showcasing truly contemporary art. And here's one of them (that won't get covered locally, unfortunately).

While it's not the kind of work I can immerse myself in the way I like to with narrative art, I appreciate the conceptual depth and challenge. It's this chicken/egg approach of the thing versus the image of the thing versus the making of the image versus the potency of the thing within our visual lexicon. The image above, for example, is a blower used for making fire. As Greene mentions, this is an object that has remained fairly unchanged over time. Not many objects can be regarded as such; there's such a bent to revise, improve, technologize.

For more mindblowing, check out his website at Valuistics.com.

Envy is not a pretty thing but I'll admit to it when it comes to Mary Maxam. At first, I envied her poise and patience when it came to teaching. When I met her 9-10 years ago, she ws the senior member of the visual arts faculty in Lakeland School District (the visual arts faculty consisting of her, myself and two junior high teachers).

Then, when I had opportunities to visit with Mary during rare unstructured collaboration days, I had all the more reason to envy her exceptional painting skills. Like this humble little painting of a reflective gift box shows, Mary Maxam knows paint. And color. And light.
With her specialties including fly fisherman, landscapes and the occasional still life, Mary shares her artful gifts via a self-titled website on which she has recently added "daily paintings."

Ok, so now I envy her one more thing: retirement (and time to paint).

Katherine Nelson ReEmerges at The Art Spirit

She's been abroad for a bit, charcoal in hand and a keen eye for the delicious curves that populate her often haunting charcoal drawings. A field in Provence, France. The ridiculous curled lip of a sneering gargoyle. A shaft of light at the distant edge of an overgrown lake. These are the images that come into view from her painstaking process of charcoal drawing.

A long ways away from her beloved Palouse, Nelson nonetheless expresses elements of these foreign vistas as if they were a second home, fraught with all the mystery and moodiness that her earlier eastern Washington landscapes possessed.

At The Art Spirit until November 28.

If the drive through the Palouse doesn't inspire your feelings of belongingness to our uniquely western landscape, perhaps these painters will

October 16 – December 5, 2009

Six innovative contemporary painters from four different Western States exhibit work featuring diverse approaches to technique and media.

Squeak Carnwath--A UC professor whose work comes across as a cross between outsider and Pop Surreal, with a hint of lyricism. She works in sculpture, but mostly painting and also printmaking, layering and interweaving images, works, icons and symbolism in a deceptively unschooled-looking, flattened style. Right: Fly, Fight, Fugit.

Roll Hardy--Portland artist whose unsentimental paintings of detritus-filled spaces capture the quiet drama of urban places in transition. Devoid of people, the impact of humans on his landscapes are nonetheless everpresent. There's often a surreal light quality and hazy paint-handling that lends to their overall feeling of inevitable evolution.

Travis Ivey--A younger Wyoming painter whose earlier realistic style has evolved to address the impact of human development on the formerly wide open lands of his native state. Fences, oil rigs and other signs of humanity invade Ivey's distinctly western landscapes.

Mary Josephson--Also from Portland, Josephson's works channel Frida Kahlo's subject matter and outsider-art approach to the figure, with a little bit of Picasso, perhaps. There's an apparent joyfulness to her color use that is undermined by what feels like analytical distance or maybe even skepticism. The results are portraits that attempt to get at the elusive inner quality of the subject.

Kasey Keeler--With a background in Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana, there is an openness to her work that reflects the sense of space we traditionally associate with the west. Yet there is nothing sentimental about her use of color and shape. Instead her style tends toward consummately painted, luscious surfaces that are extremely conscious of the fragile balance between the land and steward.

Michael Schultheis--From his home in Seattle, this cerebral artist transforms color and shape into mathematical notations, resulting in abstract layerings of paint that still retain a sense of expressionist movement. If they were likened to landscapes, one could easily see the gray weight of a Seattle shoreline or the golden glow of a western sunset--albeit expressed in his enigmatic artistic script.

Recording to Scale still on view at Lorinda Knight, Spokane

Bad weather and end-of-week apathy kept me from going to this opening for Lanny De Vuono and Linda Kraus-Perez but fortunately the work is still up until October 31. De Vuono is on sabbatical from Eastern Washington University in Colorado right now, presenting here some new work and a few pieces from 2008. Kraus-Perez is an EWU alum and has taught at various colleges locally.

From Lorinda Knight Gallery press release:

"Lanny De Vuono and Linda Kraus-Perez explore the relationship between nature and culture. DeVuono’s paintings often come in several parts as diptychs or triptychs. Kraus-Perez uses caulk to build varied low relief before she adds pigmented oil paint.

DeVuono is interested in how we construct interpretations of nature. Her subjects include the sky (with planes flying among the clouds), the earth (often with buildings dotting the landscape) and water (with helicopters hovering over the dark waves). Sometimes she takes a distant view of a flooded landscape or mountain range. Sometimes she focuses on individual trees or building elements. The variation in scale among parts and the box-like construction of the paintings reinforce the idea that we create cultural artifacts in order to reflect our own perceptions of what exists in the world.

Kraus Perez invented a process that recalls the way remains of previous events have been embedded in the strata of the earth. She might take notice of her grandmother’s knick-knacks or wilted flowers or the crumbs left over from last night’s dinner. It’s all material for her invented calligraphy. She builds up fragments of color, texture and line to create varied levels of content. The shapes and colors seem to be in flux, emerging from and sinking into the background layer.

Both artists are recording to scale artifacts and features that may be distant in space or time and yet tug at our attention because they matter here and now. "

New MegaSite/Blog/Social Network: Artaculous

Because you're not busy enough tweeting and facebooking...

This came across my email "desk" the other day courtesy of my editor at Inlander. A new art website, Artaculous. According to their site, their target audience is:

Music, Fashion, Painting, Theatre, Graphics, Photography, Architecture, Communications Design, Philosophy, Filmmaking, Performance, Media, Design, Culture, Information Technology, Producing, Dance, Bodyart and Others.

Sounds kind of broad-based to me but, hey, if you want to know what's happening in the hip haven of Paris bodyart, then this might be the site for you.

Fall Arts Preview: Idaho Only

It's the last-ditch effort by area communities to host art shows and events before winter weather makes us all cabin creatures.

In Moscow, Idaho, ReUse/ReWork/ReCycle runs through October 30th at Third Street Gallery. It's one of many interesting art events going on there, often overlooked by the media here. Fed by University of Idaho, Moscow is a vital arts community alongside its across-the-stateline college town twin, WSU in Pullman.

For more information on what's happening in both these cities, call 208-883-7036 or e-mail us at kburns@ci.moscow.id.us or kgarrity@ci.moscow.id.us and ask for the Moscow Arts Update from 9/21/09 with loads of good info on arts, theater and even dance in the area. Or check out their webpage.

At North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, illustrator artist Elaine Green is showing work at Boswell Hall through October 30. If you've ever seen her lush, moody charcoal works--like Haven, above left--you know Green creates a window into an elusive world of shadow and light with every piece.

Nearby at The Art Spirit Gallery, Mary Farrell will be showing new work October 9-November 7. What I appreciate about the work from this Gonzaga University arts professor is her expressive drawing style. From the oldest figures studies in her earlier career to the surrealist floral studies that writhe across the page in bold, black strokes, Farrell's line qualities are simply vibrant.

The Jacklin Arts Center in Post Falls (405 William Street, Post Falls, ID at 208.457-8950) continues to make inroads into the local art scene with community-oriented events and art exhibitions. Mostly regional, not cutting-edge contemporary nor beyond the conservative, they are nonetheless hosting consistently good and various shows.

Through October 9th is the woodworking by Charlie Benson, Everett Best, Dan Chadwick, Russ Fairfield, Ron Gooley, Carl Herron, Dick Kurth, Jack Mellon, Greg Moffat, Jim Osmanski, Jerry Poindexter, Rick Riddle, & Dave Wallace. Watercolorists on hand include: Beverly Peterson, Wes Hanson, Jo Simpson, Ginger Rose, Jackie Jewett, Joanne Sandifier, Chris Twardowski, Colleen Buzolich, Marilyn Sullivan, Bobbi Wieber, Gail Johnson, Sharon Cummings, Sue Braun, Woleen Corey, Lois Bloomenfield, Janet Punte and Susan Jacklin.

Upcoming in October is Sally Machlis, a University of Idaho professor known for her assemblage pieces that deal with travel, information organization and processing, imagery and symbolism.

Ancient Arts Resurrected on Canvas: Peter Cox at The Art Spirit Gallery

We humans are so visually overloaded, it's not easy to remember the impact of a single image, yet I have. That's the testament of art, for you. It can beyond the visual to visceral, like the first time I saw the work of Peter Cox. It was one of his older pieces and it was on display at The Art Spirit Gallery as part of a general exhibition, the name of which I definitely do not remember.

What I remember was the face on the canvas staring back at me, an untitled figure study, like one of many Cox does in preparation for larger works. From 1985, it is of a powerfully built man clothes incongruously in what appears to be a leather jacket and a codpiece. His eyes stare past you, a shaft of light catching along his brow, glinting off the metal of the Roman/Greek helmet in front of him. His hand seems to be holding the diamond pattern that levitates in front of him, possibly the design on his shirt but perhaps not. Something in between. A bit of trickery, artfully done, nudging at your willingness to believe.

It's the feeling of that painting that I can't shake, don't want to. It's a feeling I get when I read a story that resonates, one based on archetypes and ancient mythologies told and retold through generations. There's something ancient about a Peter Cox painting, yet his colors and use of paint and ability to create ambiguous space within the canvas is undeniably a modern artistic sensibility.

That feeling isn't present in all the paintings at The Art Spirit Gallery, which I profiled for a recent Inlander story, at least not for me. Some, like Death of Eurydice or Vespers were almost too much for me, a lot of energy, action, organized chaos.

What I'm really drawn to is the stillness, the intensity of works like Mask Study--which has a mirror-like feel to the figure's torso--or Shaman--the androgynous figure painted as if carved from glistening clay. These works speak to a familiar part of me that feels connected to something more, something older, something mysterious and vital.

All that in paint on canvas, as if by magick.

Never Too Early to Think About College

That was the message to my beginning Art 1 students the other day when Northwest Collage of Art (Poulsbo, Washington) sent their representative to the high school where I teach.

Normally I'd only have that presentation to my "advanced" students but this year is different. In addition to focusing more on creativity and problemsolving with my students, I wanted to give them more career guidance and a better understanding of the options available to them...regardless of their high school status.

So freshman gawked when the presenter, Kevin Hyatt, ran short films and way-cool animations made by NCA students. Juniors' eyes popped at the mere mention of college. And seniors looked thoughtful at the prospect of being on the verge of maybe moving on to something...other than high school. College, another job, another place.

So it's appropriate that this photo of work by former student, Promise Tangeman, caught my eye (she's now a very successful designer). It begins with hope and ends with a promise. I wonder which of my students will actually do that...go to art school. Or go on to college at all. Or go on to create a life with art.

Teaching is an act of faith. An investment in a future that one can never predict.

On one hand, I believe that the act of creation is not always something we can see. It might be a moment when something crystallizes in our psyche, a fleeting glimpse into what could be or how to adjust what currently is. It's a ghost of an idea, chased down and pinned to paper, canvas, metal, clay. It's elusive sometimes, damn elusive.

On the other hand, artists usually produce...things, images, spaces, things that occupy space and our field of vision. And so the act of creation isn't just thinking about an idea but executing it, rather bringing it to life.

Out in their little slices of heaven, artists on the Little Spokane River Artists Studio Tour will be doing just that September 26, 10 am-4pm. I'd go if for no other reason than to chat with Harold Balazs. Or to see the latest from Tim Ely, an extraordinary bookmaker. Or any of the not quite two dozen artists participating.

Check out the Tour's website here for more information.

Coming from up in the panhandle, a drive down south to the nearly twin college towns of Moscow (University of Idaho) and Pullman (Washington State University) is not a quick trip. Better make it worth it and get two for the price of one, so to speak, especially when gas is nudging back up to three bucks a gallon.

Reason One
The photography of Mark Klett and Peter Vincent at U of I's Prichard Gallery. From the press release:

"Klett’s main concentrate is human interaction with the environment, both personally and as a society. Trained as a geologist, Klett established his artistic perspective on the Western American landscape as the chief photographer for the Rephotographic Survey Project (1977-79), which rephotographed scenes visited by the first photographic surveys of the West in the 1860s and 1870s.

Vincent, a local artist, has spent more than 20 years photographing the American Hot Rod with many books and magazine publications. He has a particular interest in car culture and its expression at the Bonneville Salt Flats and the endless variety of dry lakes and drag strips that dot the American landscape. Most of his photographs for this exhibit will be black and white, with a few select works in color."

Reason Two

The WSU art faculty exhibition at the Museum of Art, through September 26.

It's always surprising to me that the local press (in this case it would be Spokane-area media) doesn't make more of the proximity of such an impressive institution. When I lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, local media clamored to support the arts at nearby Lehigh, Lafayette and even Muhlenberg College. Sigh...

Regardless, there is quite a diverse mix of faculty at WSU, including a refreshing concentration of sculptors. The exhibition ranged from the geometric abstractions of Chris Watts (below right), to Io Palmer's viscerally provocative installation using hair, to engineering tech Tim Doebler's stone carvings and assemblages.

While there at the Museum, don't forget to take a look at the adjacent gallery: Emily Ginsburg through September 30; Craig Cully through October 30; Mary Woodall through December 13.

An Expression of Faith: Corita Exhibit Open at Gonzaga University

Somewhere along the line the distinction between religion and faith becomes all-too-clear. Give me the latter over the former anyday. Give me someone like Sister Mary Corita who walked the talk, giving religion a good name (for a change) and, more importantly, exhibiting through her art the breadth and depth (and even the questioning of) her faith.

In what has to be one of the more unusual shows in this year's fall art college lineup, Gonzaga University presents "Corita" through December 12. It's a collection of work by a Catholic nun whose printmaking--as well as her alignment with avant-garde philosophies and methods--landed her on the cover of a 1967 Newsweek: "The Nun: Going Modern."

Her story, as you may discover from the Corita Art Center website, is fascinating and unorthodox (pardon the pun). While a nun of the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sister Corita had earned her art degree at the Immaculate Heart College, as well as her master's in art history from USC.

As an instructor and a practicing artist, Sister Corita earned the nickname "joyous revolutionary" for her willingness to engage in the debate about everything form the Vietnam War to racism and social injustice. Not without ruffling the feathers, including of the local Cardinal, Corita's brand of artistic activism eventually lead to her withdrawing from the order in 1968. She continued to make art, though, leaving behind a legacy of exuberantly colored works.

What I love about Frank Lloyd Wright:

  • he was an innovator whose designs are still celebrated today,
  • he was a consummate craftsperson whose attention to detail can be seen in everything from his drawings to his use of unusual materials to his insistence that the interiors be appointed in a style of furnishings that matched the overall architecture
  • he overcame adversities (many of them a result of his unconventional lifestyle choices) to persevere and further develop his unique aesthetic
On vacation back east recently, I found out a landmark exhibition of Wright's work was being shown at New York's Guggenheim--an unusual structure he designed in the 1930s to house the Guggenheim's growing collection of similarly unusual non-objective (abstract) artworks.

Wright's exhibition, "From Within Outward," celebrates the museum's 50th anniversary. It included extensive sketches, such as the rendering at left. The sketches themselves are beautifully rendered on vellum and drafting paper, in delicate but firm strokes of the pen with occasional overlays of ink or watercolor wash. Notations in the corners, bits of comments about construction or location. A glimpse into the mind of the artist.

There were videos and abundant photographs of architectural sites, site plans, the buildings during construction and in finished form. The models made by architectural grad students were exceptional, bringing to life the mastery and vision of Wright's designs for such places as Unity Temple or Taliesen. The only things missing, to my mind, were more interior shots of his designs.

here to go to the exhibition site and view a video tour of the show.

Frank Lloyd Wright's influence was far-reaching, inspiring architects to integrate the buildings into the landscape in a way that continues today. He broke outside the box-mold of building to create organic structures that simulated movement, the natural elements and reflected his deeply-rooted philosophical and faith-based beliefs about unity and spirit.

One can see his bits of his influence in local structures like the Cutter houses, which hugged into the landscape moreso than the designs of his contemporaries. Where can one see more tangible evidence? Wright designed the Archie Boyd Teater Studio in Bliss, Idaho, as well as three private residences in Seattle such as the William B Tracy House (click here for a Flickr series of photos).

Another thing that struck me about the exhibition was the fact that it was so heavily attended. True, it was the closing week of the show. And it was summer in New York City along the so-called Museum Mile which runs up the east side of Central Park. And New York City is a destination for people the world over, evidenced by the numerous languages being spoken in the long, snaking line of eager museum-goers waiting outside for their chance to shell out their hard-earned clams to climb the inner spiral that is the inside of the Guggenheim.

Is it possible that New Yorkers are just more culturally literate than others? What would happen if such as show was held at our beloved MAC? Surely Seattle audiences could do justice to attendance figures. But what about here? These are things I wonder as I continue to write a blog I don't know is even being read.

Talk about busy! This coming weekend, Vintage Barn in Rathdrum, Idaho will be gearing up for its biannual antique show, only to turn around the following weekend and head to the prestigious Country Living magazine national show.

Vintage Barn is the work of Rolane and Dean Hopper (click here to read about them in Country Living magazine and here to read about them in the Coeur d'Alene Press). Spokane shoppers might remember them from the antique shows put on by the Farm Chicks, who have really made it big and are also contributing editors to the magazine.

The Hopper's 10-acre, turn-of-the-century farm is transformed into an eclectic sale appealing to collectors and browsers alike:

  • Primitives
  • Handmade or refurbished items in the cottage or so-called shabby chic style (such as this adorable charm, right)
  • Vintage western goods
  • Clothing
  • Garden and yard art
  • Fresh-baked treats to eat
  • Music
  • and some excellent people-watching!
Admission to the Vintage Barn event is $4. Dates: September 12, 9am-4pm. Get there early and be prepared to do quite a bit of walking. Call 208.640.1318.

Joining Vintage Barn this year at the Country Living fair is an enthusiastic Virginia Shawver, an artist who operates The Rusty Bird. Shawver is shown (left) with one of her trademark bird-themed pieces. You can contact her at 208.623.2150.

The Country Living fair is September 18-20 in Columbus, Ohio. For more info, click here.

There is something compelling about Ross Hall's photographs, something that makes them as powerful today (or more so) than they were when he first created them beginning in the 1930s. Some of his photos are so obviously posed, others so stylized and dramatic they could easily come off as silly under a less skillful eye. Yet what comes through in the unmistakably lush grayscale of traditional black and white photos is Hall's sincerity and reverence for the north Idaho landscape and those who populated it. His artful liberties with his subject matter were a hallmark of his generation, like Maxfield Parrish through the lens, simply a matter of style.

And the results were often stunning, like "Fishermen's Phantasy," left.

One of the most popular images from 1934 image, entitled "It's a Wonderful Life," a depiction of a snowy Sandpoint First Avenue. Other memorable images include his stunning winter scenes, beautiful landscape photos, and works portraying life for a panoply of loggers, Native Americans, townsfolk and recreational fishermen.

All in all, Hall amassed more than 60,000 negatives, according to his website, which also includes a treasure chest of information about Hall, his beloved and recently passed-away wife, Hazel, and son Dann.

The photos themselves are, to be sure, beautiful to look at. And with a twinge of nostalgia, one can't help but feel the pangs for a time that seemed simpler and a landscape more majestic and wild. Moreso than the photos, though, is the appeal of the story of Ross Hall himself: a pioneer of sorts who overcame adversity to engage in a lifelong romance with everything he photographed. What a legacy.

At Entree Gallery Reeder Bay location, Nordman (Idaho), 208.443.2001. Through September 30th.

Spokane Eye Clinic "SEES" Benefit in Incorporating Artwork into New Facility

Shortly after the Spokesman-Review printed a Dallas Morning News article on the healing power of artwork on the walls, I got a press release from the Spokane Eye Clinic about the artwork they'd recently commissioned.

The Clinic has adopted the approach espoused in the article, which is to treat the whole person, to understand that subtle things like color, imagery and pattern affect our emotional state--sometimes profoundly--including recovery.

The Eye Clinic's new south-side facility (at 427 South Bernard) features regional artwork specifically geared towards the Clinic's patients.

"Because so many people who visit the Spokane Eye Clinic are visually impaired," stated their press release, "special attention has been given to selecting high‐contrast pieces."
Jennifer Bardsley's vibrant wildlife images (above left), for example, will appear in the children's waiting area.

Kathleen Cavendar's luscious landscapes (below right) are also featured. Other artists included are David Govedare, John Clement, Mary Lehener, Fabian Napolsky, LR Montgomery, and Dale Nunn.

Folks across the country tuned in for the first broadcast of "Ready Made Radio," the latest creation by Bernadette Vielbig, a nationally known artist represented locally by Lorinda Knight Gallery. Vielbig, who is also an instructor at SFCC, created the new public radio program with the help of a grant by Washington State Arts Commission.

The show airs every Thursday at 3pm PST on KYRS, 89.9 or 92.3 FM. Internet listeners, such as those listening from as far away as Seattle during the first broadcast, tune into www.kyrs.org. To listen over the web, simply click on "Listen Now," then the yellow volume knob.

Vielbig has been interviewing local people in the arts, starting with Tom O'Day, a fellow instructor at SFCC who, as Vielbig quipped, "likes to blow things up." Other interviewees include Gabe Brown, a performance-based and installation artist who recently had a show at the MAC, and yours truly, who got an opportunity to talk about the current/continuing state of apathy for the arts in our culture.

Broadcasts are fairly spontaneous and lively, peppered with questions, snippets of music or other audio provided by the interviewee, and infused with Vielbig's trademark mahogany-toned laughter. Vielbig is always looking for interesting stories...contact her at 509.747-3012 or via email at readymade@kyrs.org.

Four Reasons to Go To Sandpoint

Outskirts Gallery in Hope Idaho

Small, intensive art classes in this historic town overlooking the lake with internationally-known artists.

  • August 29 is the 1-day brush workshop with Glenn Grishkoff.
  • September 12-13 features Tom Woodward and Glenn Grishkoff for "photographing the brushed landscape."
Contact the gallery at 208.264.5696 or organizer kallythurman@gmail.com.

ArtWalk II 2009
Continuing through September 13, more than 40 businesses and art venues. Emerging to well-established artists. Don't miss: Ben Olson's photography at Downtown Crossing; Ruth Hargreaves' paintings and Will Venard's sculpture at Taylor-Parker Motor; Dan McCann's assemblages at Pend Oreille Winery, and the photography show at the Pend Oreille Arts Council gallery (in the Power House).
Go to www.ArtInSandpoint.org for specific locations.

Artists' Studio Tour
Only one week remaining to tour artists' studios throughout the beautiful Bonner countryside, including out through Sagle, in Sandpoint and up into Hope. Go to www.ArtTourDrive.org.

Sandpoint in general
Log on to www.sandpointonline.com for movies at the Panida, concerts, places to eat and a whole bunch of cool stuff to do. No shortage of fabulous restaurants. Fun little shops to wander around. Gorgeous lake. Good karma.

It was like walking into my high school mind at Object Space the other day when BV and I checked out Object Space, an alternative arts/happening/music kind of space at 1818 1/2 East Sprague. They were hosting a punk reunion of sorts and surprisingly, it made the media rounds.

The face behind the space, more or less, is Bruce Hormann, who is gritting it out locally to make a difference in the Spokane arts and culture scene. He's an artist, whose installations (another surprise) made the media rounds when the Spokesman profiled him this past February (read article here).

Living in Idaho as I do and otherwise occupied teaching, etc. as I am, I'm admittedly a little lapse when it comes to this aspect of the artscene. It was like a shot in the arm. Maybe there is some hope for the arts in our area...

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...to Tinman Artworks OZ-Vitational

They're a little short on tigers and bears but lions are in abundance at Tinman Artworks first ever OzVitational art exhbition. More than 40 artists will be participating, many of them regional and regulars at Tinman. Others jumped over the rainbow at the chance to make something unique for this exhibition, which is hosted by Tinman Artworks in Spokane's Garland district.

Some highlights: a tornado blown in specially from Allen and Mary Dee Dodge's collaborative work with sculptor Harold Balazs.
Ric Gendron's creepy-cool "Mr. Stubbs" painting.
Karen Kaiser's drawing from the original book series (there's a book series? Who knew?)
Gordon's Wilson's cinematic mixed-media drawing.
Margot Casstevens and Kurt Madison's custom jewelry box made from the "remains" of Dorothy's house.
Melissa Cole's "Lion in Poppies," shown here.

Some of the work is schlocky. Some of it is stunningly crafted. All will delight and tickle your nostalgic nose.

Every now and then you meet someone whose output--in this case, Nik Meisel's artwork--makes you wonder about the input. Whimsical isn't quite the word (and besides it's often overused and misconstrued), yet there's a certain child-like wonderment with bits and pieces of everyday life that's both odd and charming. Rubberbands and string laminated to create a page, a jar filled with breadties and wrapped in fishing line, a book with all the images cut out. Things reference other things which reference other things. And places and states of being. As indecipherable as the neural networks inside the brain until you pull back and consider context.

Elemenoh, for example, is Meisel's most recent installation at Saranac Art Projects in Spokane. The title, said Meisel, "comes from my experience as a child trying to find my initials in the alphabet by repeating the alphabet as a verbal mantra where after "k" came the word elemenoh and then 'p'."

He adds: "It was an occasion where I was using the wrong tool to investigate and was consequently being misled."

The piece, which uses letters, pages from a book, a dead tree, yarn and other items, resembles the vaguely familiar form one might have in a dream. It's slumped along the floor like a body that could easily be about to evolve or decay back into the ground. Some of the pages float like tendrils hanging from the tree as you make your way through the forest, maybe lost, maybe not. Memories are like that; they can go either way on us.

On his website, Meisel talks about how his work develops out of play..."culminating in a sort of forgetting and remembering of assumptions and possibilities." There it is again--that fine line between odd and charming, an in-between quality that catches one off guard and invariably twists into a smile of recognition. Maybe even envy.

Whimsy at Tinman Artworks in Spokane

It's an effective pairing of two similar but unique artists at Tinman Artworks in Spokane's Garland district. Dara Harvey and Erin Crooks-Wallace are exhibiting through August 2 with works that share a bit of whimsy.

Dara's pop-surreal stylings invariably allude to darker things, even though her paint handling is expertly light and clean. With Harvey, color is luxurious wonder to be melded and blended and layered in such a way as to always suggest both movement and suspended animation. Her odd assortment of characters cavort on canvas, morphing themselves from 2D to 3D sculptures and back again, this exhibit showing numerous of her paper mache, cloth-formed and mixed-media figures.

Erin Crooks-Wallace starts with a painting surface and collages onto or builds up the surface with bits of text, painting, drawing, and ephemera that might range from a coin to a scrap of clothing. The overall effect is actually sort of scrapbookish, although her crafting is very clean and she has a strong sense of composition. The other plus for these works is in her ability to work in a variety of media--chalk, paint, sculpture--and still maintain a consistent feel to the work, which is generally light-hearted and fun to look at.