When I first met Gabriel Brown, it was when he launched into Spokane's consciousness as "the guy in the suit" panhandling for such ridiculous things as gas for his Hummer. He was honked at, cursed at, and--improbably--given money. He made the news. And he made a dent in the daily routines of countless drivers along the busy Division Street offramp where he stationed himself for what was an exceptionally well-executed undergraduate art performance.

After graduating from Eastern Washington University, Brown went to Washington State University to pursue a Masters. Since relocating to Spokane, Brown has been popping up in unexpected places with performances like the one at Terrain, an alt-arts happening, and the 2009 First Night festival. Typically--if such as word can be applied to the inventive young artist--typically Brown works with recycled materials, performance and social commentary. As pointed as his works are, though, Brown is a consummate craftsman who, with a bit of a wry sense of humor, brings us into sometimes biting context of his work with deftness and subtle humor.

Such is the case with his latest venture: Great Tasting Goodness!, which opens at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture Friday, July 3. Expect sculpture, photography and, of course, performance by the inimitable Gabriel Brown.

Pre-Hoopfest Foray into Spokane for Art

The line of cars heading out of Spokane was long this past Friday, myself included amongst the throngs bugging out before Hoopfest. Although I'm a recently converted fan of the sport (my partner coaches highschool basketball), my primary goal was to see a few art shows before they came down and to visit friends who live and work in Spokane.

First on the list was the Bohl/Erickson show at Lorinda Knight, which I recently previewed for Inlander. In person, two things struck me. Jen Erickson's work is extraordinarily beautiful and calming, visual deep-breathing that unfortunately does not reproduce well enough in print to do it justice. Second, Bohl's work has become more and more narrative, descriptive and specific than earlier works. It also seems to be projecting off the page more. Combined, these two things could be inferred as Bohl's efforts to reach out more to his audience.

Second on the list was Kolbo/Sterling at Saranac Art Projects. Again, this is work that needs to be experienced firsthand. Sterling's shoulder-high installation of cookie-cutter house forms requires you to walk amongst these familiar yet innocuous forms, wondering at the smattering of holes (caused by purposeful shooting of the forms prior to installation). For me it's a tightly conceptualized contrast of suburban sprawl and urban reality, underscored by its presentation in a somewhat urban setting.

Similarly, Scott Kolbo's work must be experienced firsthand. The exquisite quality of his drawings and prints continues to amaze. Kolbo employs characters like Inge the homeless girl and Heavyman--perhaps a play on Everyman--to illuminate social issues. What continues to impress me about Kolbo is his consummate craftsmanship, his consistency and his continued innovation. And as difficult as his content is, the humor with which he approaches it maintains for me a sense of faith that is surprisingly uplifting. Here's a link to his video documentation of the gallery installation.

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to give unrecognized artists a vehicle for promoting their work. Another is to celebrate the arts community. Erika Ouzounian, an emerging artist based out of Coeur d'Alene, does something similar at Java on Sherman, a popular yet low-key coffee house in downtown Coeur d'Alene (great chai tea and if you can get a seat outside when the cherry blossoms are falling, you'll think you've discovered a bit of paradise).

Ouzounian coordinates the growing grassroots arts program, scheduling local artists to display their work in Java's eclectic space. Most of the artists are at least regionally known, often in varying stages of their career and with differing levels of experience. Typically the work is from emerging artists who, like Ouzounian, have local ties to the area. With few places willing to show more contemporary, experimental or emerging artists' work, Java provides a small but casual space in which to view new work.

Here's the schedule through December:

  • August: Joseph Roberts Acrylic/Glow in the Dark Media
  • September: Corrie Bouchard Acrylic/Mixed Media
  • October: Nick Smoot Photography
  • November: Matt Hawley Ink/Charcoal
The artist for July? Erika herself. The series was produced last winter, said Ouzounian, after returning from warmer climates, to which she is more accustomed. "I think these paintings reflect the desolation of winter and the feeling of being trapped," she said, referring to the cold Northwest winters.

Ouzounian often makes nature a central theme of her work, yet there are metaphysical overtones as well. "I wish to impart the sense of wonder and stillness you get when you're all alone on a full moon night in the woods or how the sky looks and the air smells after a monsoon rain rolls through the scorched high desert lands," she writes in her artist statement on MySpace.

"The precious time each of us can have to be away from everyday routine and people and noise to realize how Eden-like and centering nature can be is important to the growth of each of us. I hope that my paintings can be reminders of those moments."

You can view Ouzounian's work at Java on Sherman (208.7667.0010) beginning July 10 or at Art on the Green later in August.

Outskirts Gallery Worth the Drive

Art arrives in the most unexpected places and formats. It can be showcased at a museum, such as the MAC in Spokane or show up unexpectedly along an Artwalk route. It can be the focus of a contemporary gallery exploration or tucked in amongst beautiful objects designed for your home. And as Outskirts Gallery in Hope, Idaho demonstrates, art does not need to have an urban address to be interesting or cutting-edge.

Located about half an hour north of Sandpoint along scenic Highway 200, Outskirts Gallery shares space with the Hope Market Cafe, a funky space that doubles as a sort of community center. Outskirts Gallery is the brainchild of Kally Thurman, an enthusiastic arts advocate whose eclectic tastes are reflected in this densely-packed space. Big names like Mel McCuddin, Morse Clary and Glenn Grishkoff have pieces here, as do such regionally-known artists like Catherine (L'maitre) Earle and Gary Kaemmer.

Outskirts Gallery also has a growing artist-in-residence program featuring Grishkoff and other artists. In July, University of Idaho professor and artist Sally Machlis will join Grishkoff to teach "Book & Brush: Make Books, Paint Books" on July 18-19. There are also classes in ceramics, brushmaking, and photography scheduled through September.

Contact Kally at the gallery via email (kallythurman@gmail.com) or by phone (208.264-5696) for more information.

As promised, a quick peek at my work, which debuted at Redtail Gallery in Sandpoint yesterday (runs through July 18). We had a good turnout and the show generated a lot of comments. One piece sold right away, which was very cool, and several folks seemed interested in other pieces.

Here are a few images from the show: me, in between One Knight Stand and Den Mother (below left), a piece called Trophy Wife (right) and a view from inside the gallery during the opening (bottom left), with Well Groomed in the foreground.

If it's June in Sandpoint, it's time for ArtWalk, which is actually 2 one-month celebrations of art. The first, which opens June 12 and runs through July 27, is followed by ArtWalk II from July 13-September 14.

Behind this massive, whole-town arts undertaking is the Pend Oreille Arts Council (POAC). Their main gallery is located in the Old Power House building on Lake Street just as you come into town from the Long Bridge. It is there you'll see this piece, "Walter," by Kevin Watson, included in the Things That Go Bump In the Night group show.

Numerous businesses throughout Sandpoint participate in this much-anticipated event, which showcases mostly regional artists, some of whom don't show outside the area and some who are nationally known. Click here for a list of participating businesses.

If you go to Redtail Gallery or see any information stating that my work will be shown in this ArtWalk, please be advised that my solo art exhibition "Paradise LOST and Found" is actually opening NEXT weekend, during the town's Summer Solstice celebration. Stay tuned for more info.

INLANDER PREVIEW: Experience, Filtered

"listening to a large mammal breathe," ANDREW BOHL

Woodcarvings with “ambiguous sex organs” and “drawings of precisely drawn zeroes,” Andrew Bohl and Jen Erickson now on display at Lorinda Knight

Read the Inlander article here.