Arts & Culture

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

UPDATED: Downtown Spokane River access point opens Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 4:16 PM


Fans of the Spokane River can plan on enjoying it even more with new, unprecedented access when the downtown Spokane River access point has its grand opening Wednesday.  

The new access point is located just east of the Convention Center, right underneath the Division Street bridge. The grand opening will start at noon and last about 30 minutes, include a few words from Mayor David Condon as well as representatives from other community stakeholders, and feature children from the Northeast Youth Center paddle-boarding with Outdoor Recreation Supervisors. 

Anyone with non-motorized boats (like kayaks, canoes and paddle boards) is invited to try out the new access point directly after the ceremony. Here’s information on parking and make sure to visit the Spokane River website for a map of access points on the water trail.

City of Spokane Parks & Recreation Marketing and Communication Director Monique Cotton says this new access point shows how city organizations are focused on bringing people to the river.

“This river access point symbolizes our commitment – as a city and as a community – to invest in our greatest natural resource, which is our river,” she says.

Cotton references the Riverfront Park Master Plan as another example of city commitments; the master plan says one of its core principles is “bringing people to the center,” that is, drawing people to the Spokane Falls and the park surrounding it.

“There are very few cities that have a large river running directly through them, and even fewer that have direct access to that river directly in the downtown core,” she says. “It’s a very unique opportunity that we want to celebrate to reconnect with the river.”

The project is the result of collaboration between City of Spokane Parks & Recreation, Spokane Public Facilites, Avista Utilities and the Spokane River forum. It was first visualized in the 2011 Spokane Convention Center Completion Study.

Parks and Recreation and Spokane Public Facilities passed an agreement in Fall 2013 that funded the development of this river access point; the access point then had to clear permitting falling under Spokane Municipal Code (Section 10.19.010, Ordinance C-C-34982 Section 1) which allows permits to be given to access to the south channel between Havermale Island and the South bank known as the forebay. The permitting process officially began in Spring 2014.

Those who want expert guidance on what to do and where to go from the trail can sign up for a $15 guided tour on Saturday, September 5 – all proceeds will go back to the Recreation Fund. More information will be available in the next few weeks at and 

UPDATED, Aug. 24, 2015: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the City Council allowed non-motorized boating west of the Division Street Bridge. That is inaccurate. Spokane Municipal Code allows permits to be granted by the Chief of Police to allow entry in the forebay (which is the south channel between Havermale Island and the South bank). The area allowed to be accessed from the new access point is clearly marked; it is unsafe and illegal to leave this marked area. The post has been corrected to reflect this information. 
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Spokane is Reading's 2015 book and author

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 2:31 PM


There's still plenty of time to kick back and lose yourself in this year's selection for Spokane is Reading, the 14th annual community reading program.

This year's selection is Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic best-seller by Emily St. John Mandel. The highly acclaimed, award-winning book is Mandel's fourth, and was nominated for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award; it also won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Station Eleven was named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, and a screen adaptation is reportedly in the works.

Station Eleven is a dystopian tale set in the near future, after a pandemic flu kills off most of the world's population. It follows a traveling band of Shakespearian actors and examines the types of relationships that sustain us and the nature of fame. Here's more on the book (which we've just placed an order for) from its jacket:

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly-acclaimed previous novels.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.”

Mandel is set to give two presentations in Spokane is Reading's tradition of bringing the authors it features to Spokane — one at CenterPlace Event Center in Spokane Valley at 1 pm, and a later presentation at the Bing Crosby Theater, at 7 pm, both on Thursday, October 29. Both events are free. Auntie's Bookstore will be on hand selling copies of the novel, and the author will meet fans and sign copies of her work following each talk. 

A joint effort by the Spokane County Library District, Spokane Public Library and Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane is Reading began back in 2001 as a community-wide effort to encourage local adults to read and make connections through literature. Last year's book selection was Karen Russell's fantastical Swamplandia! and 2013's event highlighted Seattle author Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Ken Spiering reflects on building the Riverfront Park Radio Flyer

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 9:16 AM

Ken Spiering stands on his steel concrete art "The Childhood Express" in a never-before-seen photo, taken in Winter 1990. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KEN SPIERING
  • Photo courtesy of Ken Spiering
  • Ken Spiering stands on his steel concrete art "The Childhood Express" in a never-before-seen photo, taken in Winter 1990.

If you've ever been to Spokane, you've probably seen the world's largest Radio Flyer wagon. It's in Riverfront Park and it's really quite large – 12 feet tall and wide and 27 feet long. The big, red wagon, officially named "The Childhood Express," is nearing it's 25th birthday in January. 

Ken Spiering is the artist behind this iconic Spokane monument, and in an Inlander exclusive, he shared three previously unreleased 1990 slides depicting its construction. 

“I’m really happy with how well it’s held up and how loved it is. I don’t think you get much perspective on that in the first decade, but after this length of time," Spiering says, regarding the 25th anniversary, "I’m just thrilled with the way this city has received it. How can one not feel tremendous for being a part of making it?”

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Author Cheryl Strayed helps honor local YWCA Women of Achievement in Oct.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 4:05 PM

Northwest author Cheryl Strayed comes to the YWCA Women of Achievement luncheon in October.
  • Northwest author Cheryl Strayed comes to the YWCA Women of Achievement luncheon in October.

Cheryl Strayed
— reeling from divorce, heroin addiction and her mother’s death — once hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and then wrote a best-selling book about her experiences, which later became a film starring Reese Witherspoon. October 1, she comes to the YWCA’s Women of Achievement luncheon as the keynote speaker and to help celebrate the six winners of the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, which has honored local women for 33 years.

Selected by committee from a slew of nominations from people in the community, the winners are all inspirational, high-achieving females in their respective fields.

And the 2015 Women of Achievement Awards go to:

• Arts & Culture, Louise Kodis — a nationally recognized artist, Kodis’ permanent art installations can be found all over Spokane

• Business & Industry, Janet Schmidlkofer — CEO of the Spokane Valley-based K&N Electric, which builds cranes for hydroelectric dams and repairs large industrial electric motors

• Carl J. Maxey Racial and Social Justice, Jo Ann Kauffman — President of Kauffman & Associates, a professional services firms that provides strategic assistance for organizations and government agencies that work with American Indian, Alaska Native and other diverse populations

• Community Enhancement, Marty Dickinson — Executive Vice President at Umpqua Bank and sits on the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation board

• Education, Asa Bradley — Physics Professors at Spokane Falls Community College and a published author who also holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University

• Science, Technology, and Environment, Peg Currie — Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Health Care, overseeing six hospitals and 2,700 nurses

The event runs from 11:30 am-1:30 pm. Tickets are $125 for individuals – with proceeds benefiting the YWCA of Spokane, which among many things works to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the community. For an extra $15 you can purchase a personalized autography copy of Wild. 

Anyone wanting to catch up with Strayed's work before she arrives in town, should also check out her advice book Tiny Beautiful Things. It may just change you. 
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Four scenes that will convince you to watch Hot Rod with us next week

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 1:34 PM

A week from today, Thursday, Aug. 20, we're going to be pulling a big-ass stunt at Kendall Yards and you guys are all invited. You do not need the spirit of a dolphin and/or hawk to attend, but it is suggested.

Yes, we are showing Hot Rod, perhaps the best movie ever made about the worst stuntman ever to walk to the planet. It marks the first time we've taken our Suds and Cinema series outdoors and, well, we're pretty excited. Also, the movie is totally free and, again, outdoors at Kendall Yard's Nest. This is the plaza next to Central Food. For the more visually inclined, it's this place.

Beer will be provided by River City Brewing and served up by The Tap Mobile, Spokane's only mobile beer bar. Beers are $4, like usual, and we'll get those frosty bronsons served up to you at 6:30 while you set up your politely sized chairs and/or blanket for a movie to start shortly after 8. Again, be polite with your set up, don't do this.

If you've never seen Hot Rod, here are some things that might make you realize the awful truth that every moment you've spent since this movie came out has been wasted.

A reason to never say "cool beans." Not ever.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

VIDEO: Z Nation at Northern Quest Resort & Casino offers Season 2 preview

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Syfy series Z Nation was filming the tenth episode of its second season today at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino’s mock casino, normally used for training new employees.

After watching a scene where the cast is welcomed to Northern Quest, the Inlander had a chance to catch up with Co-Executive Producer Jodi Binstock. She gave a rundown on what to expect in Season 2.

“Some of the episodes you won’t even believe, they’re so insane,” she says. Here’s a brief episode-by-episode preview, courtesy of Binstock. SPOILERS: Don’t read if you want to be surprised!

The crew resets for a scene where a chief, owning a Northern Quest Casino set in Arizona, is warned of a huge wave of zombies. - MATTHEW SALZANO
  • Matthew Salzano
  • The crew resets for a scene where a chief, owning a Northern Quest Casino set in Arizona, is warned of a huge wave of zombies.
1. A catch-me-up from last season
2. “A breakneck, action show that is just incredible from the minute it starts until the minute it ends, it is just nonstop action.”
3. “Takes place on a modern-day wagon train, sort of a Mad Max-type of episode.”
4. Takes place inside of a greenhouse that used zombies for compost in hopes to make an herbal vaccine. “There’s blaster zombies that are nuclear-radiated zombies.”
5. There are Mennonites. “It’s a crazy episode, I’ll just tell ya.”
6. Warren and Vasquez perform surgery on each other.
7. Stars the Spokane River "playing" the Mississippi River.
8. Titled “The Collector.” A collector of live zombies captures Murphy.
9. New Mexico and aliens. “I know you think ‘What the hell does that have to do with Zombies?’ –– You’ll see.”
10. The Northern Quest episode.
11. Running from a fire set in episode 10, get holed up in a hotel.
12 and 13. Set in Mexico with a cartel-like gang.

A lightly-edited Q&A, including insider info about selecting Northern Quest Resort & Casino, setting fires and shooting the series in Spokane, is included below.

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INTERVIEW: Pastor Rob Bell on why everything is spiritual

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 12:01 PM


He’s the controversial pastor who famously questioned his belief regarding the traditionally held Christian view of hell in his 2011 book, Love Wins, causing many in the religious community to label him a heretic and worse. This Friday, Michigan megachurch founder/Oprah-approved spiritualist/gay marriage advocate Rob Bell comes to the Knitting Factory. Yes, the Knitting Factory, where people often arrive wearing little, drink a bit too much and listen to music with lyrics not always compatible with righteous teachings.

As part of his Everything is Spiritual speaking tour, Bell uses the TED Talks approach to discuss the how and why of existence in a fascinating and inclusive way. While he’s toured under the Everything is Spiritual moniker since 2006, he says this 2015 tour is new, full of fresh ideas and includes a different-shaped whiteboard behind him to better illustrate concepts.

Also note: For just $101 tomorrow, you can score some pre-show conversation with Bell, priority seating and a signed copy of The Zimzum Of Love, the most recent book he wrote with his wife Kristen about marriage.

We caught up with Bell earlier this week.

INLANDER: Instead of asking why you’re coming through the Knitting Factory of all places — I’m turning this around — why aren’t more pastors coming through this place or places like it?

ROB BELL: I can’t answer for other people. But I can tell you that I was in a band at Wheaton College that broke up because of the usual problem — we all had to get real jobs (full story on that here). And somewhere I stumbled into an art form called the sermon. What happened to the sermon?! Like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was a sermon, it’s the ultimate provocative art form where you’re inspired and convicted and moved. And I got into pastoring because of the art form. I started a church, but I felt the art form needed to be freed for all people. A particular religion over others was never interesting to me. I wanted to talk to people about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. How do you worry less? These are questions that all people have. The first Everything is Spiritual tour was in 2006 and I thought there was a way to take this further — to take this to this place where I hang out, where I see my favorite bands. It felt like a homecoming to places like the Knitting Factory.

Are you still a pastor? Does that ever go away?

Four years ago, I left Mars Hill Bible Church (different from the now defunct Mars Hill Church founded in Seattle by Mark Driscoll) and moved to L.A. with my family. I feel like more of a pastor than ever, now that I’m no longer carrying an institution on my shoulders. I don’t have a local flock, either, if that’s what you’re asking.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is coming to Spokane

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 12:34 PM

Yes, it's really true. George R.R. Martin is coming to the Lilac City later this month.

The murmurs have been quiet unless you've looked for them, but Spokane's own Auntie's Bookstore is leading the charge to get the acclaimed author to come visit the bookstore in person.


Although there isn't a major mention (we had to dig to find it) of Martin's guest appearance at the World Science Fiction Convention, happening Aug. 19-23 — also known as Worldcon; this year the event is going by the name Sasquan — on the event's website, we can confirm it via info on the author's site, and his personal Live Journal account

This following except from another blog post by Martin also refers to his Spokane visit:

Truth be told, six months ago I was seriously considering skipping Sasquan. Not something I do lightly, given my history, given how much I have loved worldcon over the years. But I've been to Spokane, and while it seemed a pleasant enough town I wasn't dying to see it again... and I do have a lot on my plate right now. But that was before Puppygate. Once that kerfuffle broke, I knew I could not possibly stay away. When your family is being attacked, lied about, and threatened that's not the time you want to skip the family reunion.

Okay, so what the heck is Puppygate? Without going too much into the incredibly complex details and backstory, the controversy concerns the annual Hugo Awards, which recognize the best science fiction and fantasy works of the previous year. Considered to be one of the premier accolades bestowed upon sci-fi/fantasy writers, the honors are presented each year at Worldcon. Winners of various categories are voted upon by paying members who attend the event or who register to support it, but maybe otherwise can't attend in person. 

But, this year, the Hugos were rigged. A voting bloc called "Sad Puppies" led a campaign to get a specific list of "anti-progressive authors, editors and fans" to the top of the ballot. Here are the resulting top nominees in each category.

To sum it up, the Hugo Awards' Puppygate is really similar in its warped ideology to Gamergate

Martin's presentation schedule at Sasquan includes a reading on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 3 pm — the description for the event is "an excerpt from The Winds of Winter," the long-anticipated sixth novel in the GoT series. On Friday, Aug. 21, at 11 am, Martin and author Robert Silverberg host a panel to talk "about whatever they'd like to!" On Saturday, Aug. 22, Martin hosts an autograph session at 2 pm. The last panel featuring the author is on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 1 pm, titled "Colleagues as Family," and is a conversation between Martin and fellow fantasy writers David Gerrold, Connie Wills and Vonda N. McIntyre.

Okay, now how do we, the public and avid fans of Martin's, attend? Worldcon offers one-day membership rates to allow locals to check out this international event that's been touted as a super big deal for Spokane since it was announced over a year ago. The ticket prices are a little steep ($40-$70/day, depending on the day), but until recently, the only way to attend was to purchase an attending Worldcon membership for $240. 

And it should be noted that there is tons more to see, do and learn from at the event beyond the panels and signings featuring the incredibly popular GoT author. Check out the complete schedule for the event here.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nominations for Spokane's 2015 Urban Design Awards open

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 2:15 PM

The 108-year-old SIERR building renovated by McKinstry won an Urban Design Award in 2013. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The 108-year-old SIERR building renovated by McKinstry won an Urban Design Award in 2013.

Calling all urban designers: submissions are now open for the 2015 Spokane Mayor’s Urban Design Awards. 

The awards, which began in 2007 and take place every other year, celebrate the architecture, urban and landscape design which, Mayor David Condon says, help shape the Spokane experience.

“Spokane is defined in part by how it is experienced through its many varying lenses and attractive features that include beautiful architecture, historical buildings, plazas, parks and landscapes,” Condon said in a press release. “The Urban Design Awards encourage and recognize the talents of those who add to this sense of identity and place by sharing their creativity in the public places we all enjoy.”

This year’s awards are also unique in the partnership between the City of Spokane and Spokane Arts, to facilitate further awareness and knowledge of how excellent design and city planning make Spokane even more, to steal from the motto, “near perfect.”

As for the award-giving process, the call for entries is open until midnight August 14 on, which includes a 15-point summary of design qualities sought.

Winners from the last time the awards were given, in 2013, include the SIERR/McKinstry building, the new Westview Elementary, the SFCC Music Building renovation, and the Fountain Cafe at Riverfront Park. 

The submissions are first assessed by the City’s Design Review Board which recommends entries to the Mayor’s office, which will present the awards in late October at the closing party for the second annual Create Spokane Arts Month.

In need of some inspiration on what calls for good urban design in Spokane? Look no further than the current issue's cover story, on the Lilac City's rich architectural history. 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Harry Connick Jr. got an eyeful of Spokane during his visit Monday

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 4:32 PM

Wow! The pride of NOLA was in rare form in Spokane Monday night. Not only was Harry Connick Jr. letting ’er rip with his nine-piece band, but he had the audience in stitches with his banter.

First, the music: The highlights were definitely the New Orleans tunes on the set list, putting his soulful piano playing center stage. He ran through a couple crooner numbers early — “The Way You Look Tonight” and Sinatra’s “More” — but you could tell he was just clearing his throat. The audience also got a sneak peek at three cuts from his soon-to-released new album — the first, “Tryin’ To Matter,” a riff on some offhand wisdom from his Dolphin Tale co-star Kris Kristofferson. Along the way, he played the trumpet, the organ and even the acoustic guitar. The guy is ridiculously talented, and the show was a rare treat in front of a rowdy, almost-full INB Center.

The show also had the feel of an impromptu summer camp, as he paraded a series of teens — his kids, friends’ kids, tour staff kids — up on stage. Heck, he even brought young Washingtonian Daniel Seavey from Vancouver with him, one of the youngest contestants ever on American Idol. After America chose someone else, Connick struck up a friendship with Seavey and he joined him Monday night, singing the old Marvin Gaye/James Taylor song, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” Even Martina McBride and her band wanted in on the Harry Connick Summer Camp and were in the audience, on a stopover between Santa Barbara and Helena. (Hey Martina, why no Spokane gig?)

But the very best part was hearing about his experiences in good, old Spokane. Let’s just say, he got a pretty accurate tour — but not the one the Chamber of Commerce types might have scheduled.

The morning of the show, he and his buddy Tucker decided to go golfing; they asked the driver to find a Starbucks. Instead, he took them to a local coffee hut. “You know about this?” Connick asked the audience. “They ain’t wearin’ no clothes in there!” When he blurted out to the baristas, “Where’s your all’s clothes?” one of them turned on him and snapped, “It’s a lingerie espresso stand!” Duh! “I’m from New Orleans, and we ain’t got nothin’ like that,” he added.

But the punchline? Tucker, you see, is one of his friend’s kids, along for the summer tour/camp. He’s 15 years old and he got a big old eyeful of Spokane in all its glory.

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