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.