For the Fall Arts Preview this year, Chey Scott writes about Olive + Boone Custom Millinery, owned by forward thinking designer Erin Haskell. Over 100 people packed the White Room to view "Mademoiselle," a runway show displaying Haskell's designs on Aug. 22. Photos by Young Kwak.
This week’s Inlander dives behind the scenes of the Museum of Arts and Culture where, over a year after Executive Director Forrest Rodgers was rehired, things are still very rocky. Some staff members say there’s very low morale, and they lay a lot of the blame at Rodgers.
A recent state investigation that cleared Rodgers of accusations of gender discrimination and illegal retaliation, but ended with a devastating critique of the impact his leadership has had on the MAC.
Yet, in a limited space, it would have been impossible to include every complaint the staff directed at Rodgers or Rodgers response to every complaint. So we’ve done the next best thing: We’ve posted the investigation below, then posted Forrest Rodgers’ letter to the board in response to the investigation.
Feel free to browse through the entire investigation and read Rodgers’ letter to the board, and determine for yourself whether Rodgers has been good for the museum, whether the staff were justified in their complaints and whether the Inlander fairly portrayed both sides.
Don't let today's rain damper any plans to head out and about to check out all that's new and creative at this month's First Friday. Just make sure to bring a hooded jacket or an umbrella and you'll stay nice and dry as you jaunt between venues to sample music, beverages and art at participating venues in downtown and beyond. We've put together this Google map to make it easy to find out what's happening and where so you can plot your route on the go.
View First Friday - September 6, 2013 in a larger map
The long-running professional production group made public their serious financial issues (they needed north of $150,000 to keep afloat) earlier this month. But today, the theater's board of directors announced that they were shutting down the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.
Not closing for the season, mind you, but for good.
People who made donations during the panicked plea for cash a few weeks back were told that their contributions would be used to settle the theater's debts, which in a release from board president Joseph Andersen, were said to be substantial.
"With both season ticket and individual ticket sales down significantly this year, there is no indication Coeur d'Alene has an appetite for the type of presentation our organization, in its current form, is consistently able to produce," wrote Anderson.
He went on to say that the board chose not to solicit more funds from individuals or businesses to keep the theater afloat because they were unable to offer a "fresh face and revised vision for our organization."
[UPDATE 4:36 pm]
Michelle Mendez, the former executive director of the CDA Summer Theatre just got back to me. She, along with artistic director Roger Welch, were let go on Monday evening after they were "excused" from a board of director's executive session meeting.
"I'm shocked. We raised $60,000 in less than two weeks," says Mendez of the rapid fundraising efforts the theater engaged in during the tail end of the theater's season.
Mendez, who was executive director this year and spent the three years prior as business manager, says the locks on the CDA Summer Theatre offices have been changed and she hasn't had a chance to retrieve her personal belongings from the building.
The reason she says this came as such a shocker was that she and her staff had prepared a proposal for the board to retool the theater, including trimming down to three shows. She thought those changes, along with increased fundraising, would help solve the theater's financial woes.
But, she says the board was not keen in increasing their fundraising from the community. In the past, the theater — unlike most other nonprofit artistic organizations — has relied almost entirely on ticket sales to fund the operation, rather than going after donations, grants and other funding options.
"The statement came from a board that was notinterested in doing any kind of fundraising at all," she says, adding that she's recommended increasing fundraising since she arrived with the organization four years ago.
In the issue of the paper currently on the streets, we told you about the upcoming Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre production of 9 to 5: The Musical and how excited the organization was for that staging, which opens on Thursday night.
Well, as of this morning, CDA Summer Theatre says that this could be their last production ever.
Faced with less-than-stellar ticket sales this summer, executive director Michelle Mendez says that unless things turn around with 9 to 5, in addition to an influx of donated cash, the professional summer theater, which has been operating since 1967, will close its doors.
"By the end of the month, we will have a good idea as to whether people care enough for us to continue. We need donations and we need to know if people want to come next year," Mendez told The Inlander today.
Local theater fans are likely reading this right now and saying, "hmm, this sounds familiar" because it does. Interplayers Theatre in Spokane made a similar plea earlier this year. That theater raised enough money to continue on.
Mendez says this isn't a ploy to raise money. This is serious, she says.
"It’s not a warning. This is definitely what's happening. We have never done this before," says Mendez. "We’ve taken donations. But we’ve never said, 'If we don’t get your money, we might not continue.'"
Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, a nonprofit organization that hosts four shows each summer and features a professional cast from around the country, generates about 98 percent of its revenue with ticket sales. The other two percent comes from small grants and donation, Mendez says.
Some of the shows they've brought in this year have cost as much as $100,000.
The theater company's website currently features a massive "donate" button, which is a not-so-subtle hint of what they'd like you to do. In the meantime, they will hold off from announcing any shows for next season.
Since 1978, people in Spokane have gathered in Riverfront Park at the end of July for the annual Royal Fireworks Concert. A 60-piece orchestra plays George Frederick Handel’s Musick for the Royal Fireworks with a fireworks show incorporated into the finale. Musicians come from all over the country to participate, and some have come from out of town each summer for over two decades. It has become a tradition in the music community.
Just two weeks ago, the official announcement came out from nonprofit arts group Allegro Baroque & Beyond, which had produced the concert since its birth: They would no longer continue funding the community event, and this year’s 35th annual Royal Fireworks Concert would be their last.
In an effort to continue the concert, founder David Dutton will lead a town hall meeting Monday, Aug. 12, at 7 pm. Dutton will discuss the Royal Fireworks Endowment and what needs to be done to continue the community event in the future.
Dutton says there was a large response from the community through Facebook expressing the desire to continue the annual concert. The town hall meeting came about in response to the amount of feedback, Dutton says.
The hope is that 50 or 60 people show up to the meeting on Monday, Dutton says, to show that there is community support for the continuation of the concert. From the supporters, Dutton is looking for people to volunteer for positions in a new organizational structure that has been created as well as pledges or donations to go towards the endowment fund.
Dutton will still need to find an organization willing to be the fiscal head of the Royal Fireworks Concert. However, the town meeting is the first step in keeping this community event alive.
The town hall meeting is Monday, Aug. 12 at 7 pm in the Great Hall of St. John’s Cathedral located at 127 E. 12th Ave.
The Spokane Arts Commission announced the winners of its biannual All-Media Juried Show last week at the First Friday Artist Reception at the Chase Gallery.
Meg Shiffler, gallery director for the San Francisco Arts Commission, judged the every-other-year competition. This year’s winners were Chase Boston for his digital print Blood Meal, Erin Mielcarek for her ceramic Single Again and Ellen Picken for her graphite-on-panel drawing St. Gertrude’s Chasm. All the winners are Washington-based artists.
In a letter to the public, Shiffler says that she looked for honesty in the winners and finalists. “To me (honesty in art) means that the works feel fresh, the materials are not overworked and there is a genuineness about them that draws the viewer in,” Shiffler says.
More than 300 works of art were submitted for the exhibition this year, but Shiffler chose about three dozen pieces for the show at the Chase Gallery in City Hall, which will continue until Sept. 27. The competition, which is regional, drew submissions from artists all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Submissions on display include etchings, wood mosaics, India ink and oil paintings, photographs and mixed media. One artist listed “collected tears” as a medium in her ceramic piece.
The Chase Gallery is in the basement of City Hall, outside of the City Council chambers. It is open during regular business hours and through council meetings on Mondays.
While it may be pouring down rain this morning, hopefully the weather won't put a damper on anyone's plans to mosey the streets of Spokane to check out the latest art gallery shows, live music and other First Friday events happening tonight. Once again we've compiled all the evening's events into a handy Google map to make it easy to find out what's happening and where.
View First Friday - August 2, 2013 in a larger map
Upon moving into our location in Kendall Yards, there was a lot of talk among the Inlander staff about this miraculous painting that was hanging in the entrance of the new building. We’d never seen anything quite like it and soon realized it was a Ben Joyce piece. (You can see it in the video below.) I became stunned by this guy’s talent after doing a little research, and really wanted to talk to him. I met him at his studio, which is tucked away in a little unassuming warehouse in North Spokane.
When meeting Joyce, a Gonzaga grad, I quickly noticed a few things: He loves his art, he loves his family, and he loves Spokane. Here’s a look at some our discussion.
When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
Going through college and thinking, “Oh, I need to become a business professional out in the world” and having the approach that being an artist is a hobby, it was really a little bit of a battle. I was thinking, “What am I going to do?” but then also, “Why am I ignoring this talent?” Having a wife, and thinking of a family, I thought there was never going to be security with the artwork. But it just got to the point where it became such a strong calling that I couldn’t turn it off, and so I decided to stop ignoring it and went after it.
How did you develop your style, which you’ve coined as “abstract topophilia?”
I was hitting a wall with traditional landscapes. I was unable to capture that real pride of place. So I thought, there’s got to be a way to create that pride of place in an actual fine art piece, and that’s when I came up with this idea of painting from an aerial perspective. It really allows the individual to populate it with their own connections and histories. I become, essentially, the viewer, and they’re telling me what the piece is about.
Your work centers on a love of place, so why is Spokane the place for you?
Right away the pace of the city was one that I enjoyed. Then having met my wife at Gonzaga (who is from Spokane), we always knew we wanted to live here. And you do kind of miss it, it’s just one of those towns. With the roots that she has and Gonzaga and, you know, it’s kind of everything you need in a city. We can live a comfortable life, rather than living in a rat race somewhere and trying to compete and trying to justify and prove yourself to other people. That’s not what my work is about. I’m not about trying to compete with other artists. It’s just a whole different life that I want to lead. I’ve always wanted a family and to make living off my art, so Spokane is a great place to do it.
Do you participate in First Fridays?
Yeah, the First Fridays are a great event. I’ll do one a year here in Spokane because a lot of the people here in Spokane have helped me get to where I am. Fortunately for me, big things are happening. I’d love to do 10 pieces a year and just give them all to the public. And now that I’m building more security for my family, I look to the people that have helped me get to this point. I think it’s important not to forget about that, and that’s why I’ll do these shows.
What was it like doing your commissioned piece for The Inlander?
Once they said they were in the process of getting this building, I was really excited. You know, it’s always flattering when people hold walls out for your work. They actually wanted a smaller piece for that space, but going in and seeing how dramatic the wall is in the entrance and knowing the business, I thought to myself, how can I not do a piece that’s going to make a statement? Then we just made it work.
Joyce prints his first name on each of his pieces with almost transparent subtlety. He said some people ask him if he writes it in crayon, but it appears to be both an artistic and humble choice. It’s the distinctive final touch on each of his pieces, which are consistently in a category of their own. To see more of Joyce's work, check out his website: benjoyceart.com.
The Spokane Arts Fund, the nonprofit organization that, among many other things, promotes and supports Spokane's artistic community, announced its new artistic director today.
h was selected by the group's board after an exhaustive search. Roach comes to the position from Seattle, where she served as the executive director of the Northwest chapter of the Recording Academy — which you probably know better as the Grammys. Before that, she was the managing director of The Vera Project, a volunteer-run arts and music venue in Seattle.
“This is an exciting time for art in Spokane, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my arts leadership experience to this region. I've seen firsthand how arts can foster the creative cultures that bolster economies and build regional identity," said Roach in a press release this morning. "I'm honored to lead Spokane Arts Fund's efforts to build, network and support arts assets in our region, ultimately contributing to a bright future for Spokane.”
Karen Mobley, who stepped down as director this spring to take the position of program manager, says she knows the organization, which originated last year after the city dismantled its arts department, is in good hands.
"Shannon is somebody I’ve known for a long time," says Mobley. "She has a positive reputation in the region and I feel confident that she has the passion and the energy that’s required of that job."
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