Arts & Culture

Friday, September 23, 2016

Prost! Oktoberfest at the River returns for another run this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:47 PM

  • Photos provided by Vision Marketing
Prost! Oktoberfest is here!

The second annual Oktoberfest at the River runs today through Sunday at the Spokane Convention Center, and it's expected to be bigger and better than last year's inaugural edition.  

This year, Oktoberfest has doubled the amount of games from the previous year, says Tom Stebbins, co-owner of Vision Marketing, the company that heads up the event. Stebbins says they've also added Silver Spurs to their entertainment, a local dance group that performs to traditional German music. The last Oktoberfest was attended by 7,948 people and this year it's expected to attract even more, Stebbins says.

"I watch people come in and it's just a happy place," Stebbins says.

The event is $10 per day with no reentry, $15 for the weekend with in and out privileges and $5 on Sunday. Admission is free for children 12 and under.

The event is family-friendly, with activities like a "Rootbier" Garden, Bocce ball and cornhole for the kids, but after 8 p.m. the event becomes 21 and over.

Friday and Saturday, there are activities from noon to midnight, and on Sunday the events go from 11 am to 5 pm.

For more information visit the Oktoberfest website.
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Window Dressing's new Creative Enterprise program welcomes 14 local startups

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM

The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program. - WINDOW DRESSING
  • Window Dressing
  • The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program.

After putting out the call earlier this summer for local, creatively-minded entrepreneurs who have a great idea but aren't quite ready (or able) to test out their venture in a storefront space, the Spokane nonprofit Window Dressing recently introduced the inaugural class of its new Creative Enterprise program.

After brightening dozens of otherwise rundown, unused downtown storefronts with local art installations over the past few years, the creative vitality-focused nonprofit is reaching further with its next venture — placing emerging local businesses in un-leased, empty storefronts, allowing them to test their business models before making a big investment in a permanent location.

"It gives creative entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their idea with little risk, and that aspect really appealed to us because it builds infrastructure for young and creative people within the city to succeed," Window Dressing co-founder Ginger Ewing told the Inlander back in July.

It's a win-win for both parties, including the downtown property owners agreeing to let program participants use their spaces at little to no cost, for at least six months, or until a permanent paying tenant signs a new lease.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

TV: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, new to Netflix, leaves questions unanswered

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 4:55 PM

The BBC's adaptation of Susanna Clarke's popular book was engaging, but misses the mark in some major ways.
  • The BBC's adaptation of Susanna Clarke's popular book was engaging, but misses the mark in some major ways.

After breezing through the incredible first season of Stranger Things, and also recently tearing through the thrilling The Night Manager (which won an Emmy last night), this past weekend I faced the challenge of what to binge-watch next. After a cursory scroll through Netflix's homepage, there was one title that caught my eye: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, new to the streaming service this month.

No one wants to waste a weekend binging a show that ends up being terribly written or produced, so after a quick check on Rotten Tomatoes (90) and Metacritic (73), I was satisfied that jumping into this seven-part miniseries from the BBC, released last year, would be worth the time. A brief summary of the show had me sold, too — a tale set in an alternate historical universe, early 1800s England, in which magic is real but has been seemingly lost on the British Isle for the past 300 years. Two magicians, the show's title characters, set out to bring magic back into a respectable status fit for the "modern era." 

The series is adapted from a 2004 bestselling novel of the same name by British author Susanna Clarke. As a major fan of both period pieces and anything relating to sci-fi and fantasy, I thought, this is it — this is my next series to obsess over!

However, after finishing off the seventh and final episode last night, I was left quite disappointed, confused and let down by my high expectations for the magical world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

While I've not read Clarke's epic, 800-page novel that the series was adapted from, I have to hedge a guess that many of the world's intricate details — such as background on the multitude of its characters — simply did not translate well to screen. Though I can't imagine this story would have been better served if condensed into a feature film-length format. Nor does it seem that more episodes were needed to fill in the gaps.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Spokane authors dominate the Washington State Book Awards' fiction category

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 4:58 PM

Sharma Shields
  • Sharma Shields

The Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library today announced the finalists for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards, and three of the five in the running for fiction awards are from Spokane. 

Sharma Shields (The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac), Shann Ray (American Copper) and S.M. Hulse (Black River) are all among the nominees in the Fiction category, along with Ann Pancake and Stephanie Kallos of Seattle. 

Shann Ray
  • Shann Ray
Spokane's Jack Nisbet is nominated in the History/General Nonfiction category for Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony Oct. 8 in Seattle. Winners receive a $500 honorarium, and the judges for the non-children's books are Linda Andrews of Walla Walla Community College, Lisa Bitney of Tacoma Public Library, Pam Cady, of University Book Store, Lisa Gresham of the Whatcom County Library System and Paul Hanson of Village Books.
S.M. Hulse
  • S.M. Hulse

While you wait to hear who won, you can reacquaint yourselves with Spokane's nominated writers with Inlander profiles done in the past year or so: 

Sharma Shields, Monsters & Demons
Shann Ray, Renaissance Man
S.M. Hulse, A Good Year
Jack Nisbet, Kicking Rocks

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Spokane filmmaker nabs runner-up spot in Jim Henson fan film contest

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 10:40 AM

The stone-collecting Gich examines a prize during a scene in Pendleton's film.
  • The stone-collecting Gich examines a prize during a scene in Pendleton's film.

Who ever said puppets were just child's play?

Jim Henson's 1982 puppetry-driven fantasy endeavor The Dark Crystal inspired enough of a cult following to motivate the Jim Henson Company's hosting of the Dark Crystal Fan Film Competition earlier this year. The festival welcomed roughly 30 entries spanning mediums and genres, and a panel of judges whittled the pack down to a group of standouts.

One of the Dark Crystal devotees whose film walked away with a prize happens to be a Spokane native. Young father James Pendleton is the filmmaker behind Gich and the Skystone, which clinched the competition's first runner-up spot in May. Pendleton wrote and directed the film on his own, and employed family help on certain technical aspects of production. Though he's worked on other films in the past (and is presently a crew-member on Syfy's Spokane-filmed show Z Nation), this short film was his debut as a writer/director.

Pendleton's film chronicles the pursuits of the titular, furry figure (a puppet of Pendleton's own making), who happens upon a mysterious stone that crashes down near his home from the heavens above. Before starting work on Gich and the Skystone, Pendleton envisioned his film as a suitable prequel to Henson's fantasy epic. Thus, the "skystone" ends up playing an integral role in Dark Crystal mythology.

Pendleton's prize was an invitation to a private tour of The Jim Henson Company in Los Angeles in late August, a tantalizing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Henson diehard. The trip included a private screening of the winning films alongside Pendleton's fellow victors. "There were definitely a few [films] that gave me a run for my money," he says. "I'm honored to have placed where I did in the competition."

Pendleton has been a lifelong fan of Jim Henson's work, from Sesame Street to Labyrinth and, of course, The Dark Crystal, the latter of which, he believes, has garnered its considerable cult following thanks to the "care and time and energy put into creating the world of the film." Pendleton's film was praised specifically by siblings Cheryl and Brian Henson, the children of Jim Henson, in a personalized letter that the filmmaker received from Cheryl.

"It's beyond an honor," Pendleton says. "It's a dream come true to feel like I've given back to a family of filmmakers that have influenced me so deeply."

Check out Pendleton's four-minute runner-up film below:
   All of the winning films are available to watch on the Jim Henson YouTube channel.
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Z Nation crew shooting around Spokane, including in Inlander's backyard

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 12:16 PM

A group of Z-Nation actors hop on a cart for a ride down to a shooting location near the Spokane River.
  • A group of Z-Nation actors hop on a cart for a ride down to a shooting location near the Spokane River.

On Thursday, the cast and crew behind Syfy's hit zombie series Z Nation assembled in Kendall Yards to shoot a scene for the show's upcoming third season. The Inlander managed to sneak a peek at the set and grab some details on the scene in question.

Several trucks had parked in the barren, dirt-covered area on Summit Parkway just off Monroe, and crew members went about their duties as carts carried people and equipment to and from the shooting locations. Filming occurred on either side of the Spokane River. Fully-costumed cast members sauntered about in ragged clothing, carrying realistic-looking firearms and in many cases sporting elaborate makeup jobs (though no zombies were present).

Marc Dahlstrom, one of the show's producers, chatted with us about the scene, which is intended for inclusion in the thirteenth episode of the show's third season.

"It's a scene that's taking place kind of under the Monroe Street Bridge," Dahlstrom says. "There's that circle roundabout overlook to the Falls, and we've made it basically an encampment where our heroes and some other guys trying to save the world have gathered to plot the next step on what they need to do to save mankind and kill all the zombies."

Much of the main cast assembled on-set for the scene, including Keith Allan, who plays the virus-immune Alvin Murphy, and Kellita Smith, the actress behind protagonist Roberta Warren.

Z Nation's third season premieres on Syfy on September 16. Keep an eye out for filming around downtown today. And check below for more of the photos we snapped on and around the set.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Submissions for Terrain 9 are open; artists have one week left to submit

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 4:12 PM

If you've been following the local arts organization Terrain since its beginning, it's sort of wild to realize that it's already just shy of its 10th anniversary — that milestone comes next year.

Growing to become one of the most widely-attended local arts events of the year, Terrain again hosts its annual, one-night-only arts and music showcase on the first Friday of October; this year that's Oct. 7.

Many of us fondly remember past inceptions of Terrain. The line to get inside the free event always seems to wrap around the block at some point in the night. Arts supporters of all ages are willing to wait to view the innovative local art, and to see and hear live music, poetry and other performances through the night.

But before art can deck the walls and the bands can take the stage, creative folks across the region need to get their last-minute submissions in to be considered for the juried show.

Submissions are due by midnight on August 31 — that's one week from today. All the requirements and details you need to know to be included in this year's showcase can be found online, right here.

Then, to celebrate the closing of submissions for Terrain 9, the Observatory bar in downtown Spokane is hosting a special event Aug. 31, starting at 8 pm. On the lineup are local bands Von the Baptist and Outercourse, with special guests Pastel Felt from L.A.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Spokane Arts director Laura Becker to leave the citywide arts nonprofit this fall

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Outgoing Spokane Arts director Laura Becker, in a photo illustration from the Inlander's 2015 Fall Arts issue. - KRISTEN BLACK / CHRIS BOVEY
  • Kristen Black / Chris Bovey
  • Outgoing Spokane Arts director Laura Becker, in a photo illustration from the Inlander's 2015 Fall Arts issue.

After a little more than a year and a half at the helm of the city's nonprofit arts fund/commission, Spokane Arts executive director Laura Becker is leaving her role there later this fall.

In a recent email letter to the organization's supporters, the Spokane native expressed sincere appreciation for the opportunity to lead the organization since the start of 2015, and being able to contribute to the growth of the local arts community, which has been building positive momentum for several years now.

Becker has accepted a position as cultural affairs supervisor for the City of Santa Monica, California. In her resignation announcement, she writes:
There were several factors informing my decision to move on. First, my partner is wrapping up his time here in Spokane and is moving back to his home state of California. This is a move that I have delayed for as long as possible but ultimately, I needed to consider this relocation a reality for us. In addition, I have been offered and have accepted an incredible opportunity to serve as the Cultural Affairs Supervisor to the City of Santa Monica’s public art program, a role for which my background and experience make me an ideal candidate.

Looking forward, I must prioritize my family and manage my professional life with greater balance – this position and a move closer to my family are a clear path for me. I have great love for Spokane and am honored to have led this organization for as long as I have and with so many accomplishments to account. I am immensely hopeful that Spokane Arts will attract an extremely qualified and passionate leader who can continue the work that we have all contributed to this organization’s young life. Given this decision, I have heavily considered plans for a sound and harmonious organizational transition. 
Becker was hired in fall 2014 to take on the role as Spokane Arts' executive director after the departure of its first leader, Shannon Halberstadt, who left after just a year to relocate back to Seattle with her husband. Becker brought years of experience to her role with Spokane Arts, having worked in administrative positions for several Seattle arts groups since 2001.

During her tenure at Spokane Arts, Becker helped bring in thousands of dollars of grant funds, assisted with the implementation of numerous public art projects like the downtown Mobile Murals project and the traffic signal-box art, and continued to grow October's Spokane Arts Month, along with many other initiatives. 

Until a new director is hired, starting on Sept. 23 Spokane Arts will be led by interim director Ellen Picken, who currently serves as its program manager. Karen Mobley's duties as public art program contractor will also expand, along with those of other staff members.

A search committee for Becker's replacement has been formed, and the job posting for Spokane Arts next executive director is posted online.
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Friday, August 12, 2016

Steve Martin and Martin Short hit the INB for one wild and crazy night

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 11:11 AM

It's going to be funny.
  • It's going to be funny.

Calling it An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, comedians Martin Short and Steve Martin are set to perform on the INB Performing Arts Center stage October 20. And fans of Martin's original stand-up are in for a treat as the show features stand-up — not that it will be the same as the old days, of course (see below) — along with music, film and stories between the two famed actor/comedians. 

The Steep Canyon Rangers, a Grammy-winning bluegrass band Martin frequently lends his banjo talents to, will also be on hand. 

The pair, now 66 and 70 respectively, have known one other for years. working on multiple films together including the Father of the Bride movies and ¡Three Amigos! Most recently Martin co-wrote a Broadway musical with Edie Brickell called Bright Star, and Short worked on Maya & Marty, a summer variety show with Maya Rudolf.

Tickets for October's show go on sale next Friday and start at a whopping $85. Those wanting to get up close and personal with the comedy legends can spend as much as $350. And going against what the show's title might suggest, it's doubtful you'll forget this evening any time soon. 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is just enough to keep fans going

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 1:30 PM

WARNING: An extreme amount of spoilers are contained in the following blog. If you do not wish to know the major plot points of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, or any other Potter story for that matter, please do not continue reading. If, however, you have recently completed the new book, which came out Saturday night at midnight, and potentially care a little too much about these books, please read on.

Is J.K. Rowling out to steal our hard-earned money? Absolutely. And yet for another taste of the Harry Potter world I'd give over all of my galleons. With the hard-bound script of the two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is currently sold out on London's West End until next summer, fans get a glimpse at the future of the Boy Who Lived, beginning  where book seven's too-happy epilogue left off. 

Here playwright Jack Thorne takes the new story, written partly by Rowling, and crafts a piece of theater full of humor, sorrow and ultimately redemption (as we knew it must). That isn't to say there aren't some disturbing elements — Albus as Ron kissing his own aunt; Delphi, a young woman, preying upon teenage boys; and, of course, the idea that Bellatrix and sweet Voldy got it on — but I'm glad the tone is darker here.

Albus Severus Potter is a kid who isn't anything like his father or cool older brother James. He's a Slytherin, the worst thing you could be in a family full of Gryffindors. He's angry and feels alone. When his famous father says he wishes he wasn't his son, the scene is heartbreaking. The one bright spot on Albus' life is the wonderful son of Draco Malfoy, Scorpius. 

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