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An Artsy Holiday 

by Ann M. Colford

First Friday is always a big day for local galleries, but in December the holiday season adds a glow of excitement -- along with great opportunities to pick out one-of-a-kind gifts. It's also a time to hang out with art-loving friends, and that's just what Tracy, Darcy and Sue have in mind for Dec. 3.

The friends begin at the MAC, where the museum is featuring the first full-scale exhibition of art from the permanent collection since opening its new space, along with Keiko Hara's atmospheric abstracts and the exotic devotional art of the Soul of Mexico. Stopping at the museum shop, the friends find local beadwork and jewelry and an assortment of unique toys.

Next is a brief diversion into the literary arts with a visit to Auntie's, downtown's independent bookstore. Along with books and calendars for friends and family, the women each choose an angel from Auntie's Angel Tree and buy a book for a local child in need. With that, they can feel less guilty for selecting a book or two for themselves.

As the sky darkens, they stroll through the park to see the treasures at Spokane Art School's Yuletide sale of fine arts and crafts. Yuletide spotlights the work of more than 50 artists and has been a Spokane holiday tradition for many years.

Back downtown again, the friends stop to view Christmas Tree Elegance on the mezzanine level of the Davenport. At a buck a ticket, it's easy to enter the raffles for these visions of holiday extravagance.

Infused with holiday spirit but needing some sustenance, the three make their way across the street to Moxie, where Chef Ian Wingate's creative fusion cuisine fits right in to the day's artistic theme. His signature Char-Grilled Chipotle Glazed Meatloaf is just the right combination of bold design and homey comfort, like the best in diner food gone uptown. The transformed space, formerly Great Harvest, is a work of art itself, and the three friends find space at the curving counter where they observe the buzz of activity and admire the beautiful plates emerging from the kitchen.

After dinner, the serious gallery-hopping begins. At the Lorinda Knight Gallery is the opening for the colorful transparent constructions of Caren Furbeyre, featured for the month of December. Walking west again, they're drawn to the Catacombs, the cozy hideaway built into the former boiler room of the Montvale Hotel. To warm up, they splurge on a dessert of S'mores, that mainstay of campfires on long summer nights. This inspired creation comes to the table complete with a flaming clay pot and skewers for toasting the marshmallows, along with enough graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate pieces to make four S'mores. Add in a hot cup of coffee, with maybe a fortifying shot in it, and the friends are revived for another round of gallery visits.

Right around the corner are three relatively new art spaces: Avenue West, representing several local artists; Good Works Gallery, featuring contemporary pottery artist Sam Sloan in December; and Tres Chic Jonque, where Diane Culley (formerly part of Avenue West) shows her hand-painted furniture and home decor items. A couple of blocks away, they find the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery, this month highlighting the work of Tim Biggs. Art lovers Jim Kolva and Pat Sullivan collected ceramics for many years and now have opened a gallery space on the street level of their loft apartment building at 115 S. Adams St.

The weary art aficionados wander back to the wine bar at Niko's, where the extensive wine list offers something for everyone. They conclude by reminiscing over glasses of fine wine.

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