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 or 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.