When Shannon Halberstadt took the job last year as the executive director of Spokane Arts, the city's nonprofit arts organization, there was some excited buzz within the city's cultural landscape. She was already a known entity in the Seattle arts community and was coming here to energize a scene that was already on the rise.
But today, the Spokane Arts board announced Halberstadt had put in her resignation. She's moving back to Seattle, where her husband has taken a new job.
Spokane Arts came into being as a nonprofit shortly before Halberstadt arrived. Before 2013, the Arts Commission was a city-run organization, but then joined with the Spokane Arts Fund to create the nonprofit. In the little time she was there, Halberstadt said she was pleased with what the group accomplished.
"I really enjoy the work that we’re doing. We have such a good team. There’s so much potential there and we’ve done a lot of good work in a short period of time," Halberstadt told the Inlander today.
Part of her work includes the introduction of Create Spokane, a month-long series of events all over town taking place in October. And just last night was the latest installment of the popular Cultivate Spokane salon series. She also helped spearhead the ongoing Spokane Mural Project.
The Spokane Arts board of directors says they will engage in a national search for an executive director, but have already named an interim replacement in Luke Baumgarten. That name should be familiar to Inlander readers — he was a former staff writer and arts editor for the paper and currently writes a monthly column. Most recently, he's been working in advertising at Spokane agency Seven2. Baumgarten is also one of the founders and producers of Terrain, the event in October that has begun spinning off other events throughout the year.
"I’m excited to jump in there," says Baumgarten. "One of the things I’ve found super helpful in the Terrain work I've done is finding partnerships. I’m really excited to see who in the community would be interested in working with Spokane Arts and what kind of ideas they have."
Baumgarten says he will also throw his hat in the ring for the permanent position.
Halberstadt says she'll stick around on a part-time basis for the rest of the calendar year. And when she moves to Seattle, she's not going to keep Spokane's culture a secret.
"I’m always going to be an advocate for Spokane. Having this perspective for Spokane and understanding what’s happening here. It gives me a great opportunity to spread the word.
In conjunction with the upcoming Create Spokane Arts Month in October, Spokane Poet Laureate Thom Caraway is overseeing the curation of a new anthology of poetry about Spokane and by Spokane-based poets, called the Railtown Almanac.
While the collection has already received more than 50 submissions since a call went out earlier this summer, there's still time to submit your work for consideration. The deadline is this Friday, Aug. 15. Caraway hopes to receive work from poets and writers of all ages and backgrounds, including high school students.
In an email to the Inlander, Caraway says the seed for the idea was planted after he was chosen as the city's Poet Laureate last October.
"One of the things I wanted to promote was the huge diversity of talented poets living in Spokane, in so many different stages in their careers," he writes. "I think some people know about EWU's MFA program, various university reading series, and other people know about the Spokane Poetry Slam... but there hasn't really been a comprehensive collection of all the different kinds of work going on in town."
Caraway was also partly inspired to create the collection after seeing the success of the local writer anthology Spokane Shorties, released in April as a fundraiser for the annual Get Lit! literary series.
Railtown Almanac is to be co-edited by Caraway and Jeffrey G. Dodd, and published locally by Sage Hill Press. Writers can submit up to five poems about Spokane, or, if they're residents of the area, they can also include poems on any subject. Both previously published and unpublished work is accepted, and submissions are open to all ages and staged of writers, "from high school kids to retired folk," Caraway notes.
Poems can be submitted online, via a link on the Sage Hill Press website.
Though the summer months aren't typically known as a busy time for local theater groups, the next few weeks are packed full of stage shows across the Inland Northwest. Several new performances open tonight, and even into next week with the arrival of Broadway's touring production of The Book of Mormon at the INB Performing Arts Center, opening next Tuesday. May other local performances are continuing their runs for a few more weeks before the fall season starts.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY | Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre brings this new musical to life for this first time in this region, starting tonight. Opening weekend student rush tickets are also available for $10 with proof of school ID.
Aug. 7-24 • Thur-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun at 2 pm • $27-$49 • Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Rd.
LEGALLY BLONDE | Beginning tomorrow night, a cast of young, local actors in grades 7-12 tell the story of Elle Woods, a blonde fashion-focused sorority girl who decides to attends Harvard Law. Opens Friday.
Aug. 8-17 • Wed-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2 pm • $10-$19 • Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard • spokanecivictheatre.com
EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL | A group of college students spend a weekend at an abandoned cabin in this one-night-only rock musical based on the Evil Dead horror films. This production lets audience members get close to the action with "splatter zones" in the front rows.
Sat, Aug. 9 • Showing at 6 pm and 9:15 pm • $29-$34 • Riverside Place, 1108 W. Riverside • evildeadtour.com/spokane
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN | Christian Youth Theater - Spokane's stage adaptation of the classic film depicts actors discovering the ways their lives will change as silent films fade to cinema with sound.
Through Aug. 9 • Fri-Sat at 7 pm, Sat at 2 pm • $13-$14 • Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague • bingcrosbytheater.com
AVENUE Q | Sesame Street-style puppets and adulthood meet in this hilarious musical. The themes in this show may not be appropriate for young children.
Through Aug. 9 • Thur-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $14-$20 • Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave. • lakecityplayhouse.org
THE ODD COUPLE | Two opposite personalities attempt to coexist as roommates in this one-time staged reading by Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.
Wed, Aug. 13 • 7:30 pm • $25 • Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Rd. • cdasummertheatre.com
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM | Fairies, lovers and a play within a play in this Shakespeare classic remind us that the course of true love, and life, never did run smoothly.
Through Aug. 17 • Wed-Sun, show times vary • $12-$28 • Interplayers Theater, 174 S. Howard • interplayerstheatre.org
COEUR D'ALENE MURDER MYSTERY THEATRE | There are still two evenings of mystery left in this summer series. Each show has a limit of 50 people, so reserve your spot in advance.
"Mafia Murders" on Aug. 15 and "A Taste for Wine and Murder" on Aug. 22 • $30-$35 • Coeur d'Alene Cellars • 3890 N Schreiber Way, Coeur d'Alene • cdacellars.com
THE EMPIRE SINGS FLAT | A heroic hand model attempts to save the princess from the dastardly Dorf Vader in this original, locally-written, Western-themed melodrama.
Through Aug. 24 • Wed-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $16-$18 • Sixth Street Theater, 212 Sixth St., Wallace • sixthstreetmelodrama.com
THE BOOK OF MORMON | Written by the creators of South Park — Trey Parker and Matt Stone — this nine-time Tony award winning musical has seen great success since it opened on Broadway in 2011. Its music was also co-written with one of the composers and lyricists of Avenue Q, Robert Lopez.
Aug. 12-17 • Showtimes vary • $45-$155 • INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • bestofbroadwayspokane.com
As the summer heatwave continues, so does artists' work on new murals along the walls of four downtown railroad overpasses. Today, work also begins on a fifth mural recently added to the line-up of the Spokane Arts-led project.
With some additional funds secured toward the project, the arts vitality nonprofit chose another site for a mural to brighten the dark and dirty corridors dissecting downtown's streets. In June, Spokane Arts approached long-time local artist Tom Quinn about re-envisioning a familiar montage he painted at the intersection of Division and Sprague more than 20 years ago. The current mural, showcasing Spokane's unofficial mascot — the marmot — has long been a fixture of downtown, but as the Inlander mentioned in our big Sprague Avenue profile back in May, Quinn isn't a fan of this particular body of work, calling it "grotesque:"
“Even I don’t think it looks like a marmot,” he says. “People would come by and say, ‘Is that a gorilla?’”
Quinn has other well-known murals around town — the Gonzaga mural that’s now in storage, the faded train murals in Hillyard, the Felts Field mural at the airport, the fish mural farther down Sprague — but the marmot mural was his first, painted in two weeks in June of 1993.
An underpass like that is a difficult place for a mural. “Greasy mud” and pigeon guano drips down, Quinn says. The relative privacy means people pee on the walls. Then there’s the vandalism, too — someone recently felt the need to leave a miniature graffito in the marmot’s nostril.
“I would love to repaint that sometime,” he says.
Quinn's design for the current mural's replacement still highlights iconic features of the city and the region's history, and there's even a marmot or two as a tribute to its forebearers.
Spokane Arts program manager Austin Stiegemeier says the decision to add a fresh look to the existing mural was partly due to Spokane Arts' partnership with the Downtown Spokane Partnership and the economic development group's long-planned efforts to spruce up what it's calling the Division Street Gateway, a main entrance into the city from I-90.
"We didn't put a call out [for submissions] for this one because of the unique situation that he'd painted it a long time ago," Stiegemeier says. "We wanted to do something new there, but also give credit to and do something with the artist."
Quinn's new Spokane-centric mural should be completed sometime in October, while the four ongoing murals at the Maple, Howard, Cedar and Wall street overpasses are set to be finished by September.
Also on the topic of public murals — Spokane Arts just this morning put out a call for volunteer artists for a separate project it's calling the Mobile Murals Program. The inaugural project in the program is to create temporary art fences around Spokane residents' favorite downtown eyesore — the vacant, weed-filled pit at the corner of Division and Third.
With a goal to create a visually-pleasing barrier around the blighting site, local artists or artist teams are invited to submit their designs — to be painted or displayed on plywood panels — by a deadline of August 25. The panels are then set to be installed in early October. If mural space remains after this first round of submissions, a second call for more artists could be announced in September.
For more than a decade, the Tinman Gallery (811 W. Garland Ave.) has been an arts and culture business fixture in the Garland District, as well as to the greater Inland Northwest arts community, showcasing fine art by the region's top artists.
Yet all good things must come to an end, and yesterday Tinman Gallery owner and longtime arts supporter Susan Bradley announced that this month's is the last show and art sale at the gallery before she officially retires at the end of July. The gallery-wide sale, titled "Tinman's Greatest Hits," features artwork Bradley has collected over the past 11 years by the following artists: Harold Balazs, Mel McCuddin, Kay O'Rourke, Ric Gendron, Ken Spiering, Timothy Ely, Virginia Carter, Stan Miller, Marianne Figgins, Charlie Palmer, Ilse Tan, Len Heid, Kathleen Cavender, Scott Kolbo, Melissa Cole, Val Pate, Gay Waldman, Sheila Evans, George Flett, Kevin Red Star and Terrence Guardipee.
Bradley says it wasn't easy to decide to move on from the gallery, but she wants to spend more time with her husband who retired last October, and also plans to focus more on the four arts nonprofits for which she serves as board member: the Spokane Art School, MAC Foundation, Artist Trust and the Garland Business District.
"It's a difficult decision because I really loved helping the artists get their works out there," Bradley says. "I have really appreciated getting to know the artists and the people who came in to buy the art."
This morning marked the first day of the final show and sale, and already half a dozen pieces have been sold. Bradley estimates about 100 or so pieces she's bought for the Tinman's collection are offered for sale — artwork she personally doesn't have room to hold on to. Many of the artists included in the show aren't extensively producing and showing as they once were, so Bradley considers it a "last chance" for collectors to purchase their work.
Along with the artwork, the gallery's inventory of bestselling, art-related and children's books, handmade candles, greeting card and other gift items is on sale for 50 percent off original prices.
As far as the future of the Tinman Gallery space, located adjacent to the Spokane Art School's headquarters, Bradley says she'll announce its future planned use in the coming week.
"Tinman's Greatest Hits" started today, July 8, and continues through July 26. The gallery is open Tues-Fri, from 10 am-6 pm, and Sat, from 10 am-4 pm.
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