Feat of Clay -- After more than 10 years and countless colorful plates, bowls, tiles, switch plates and teapots, the popular DIY ceramic painting shop Art by Yourself is closing. In spite of being a regular participant in such downtown celebrations as First Night and Rally in the Alley, owner Andrew Baucom says that business had been down by 50 percent over the last two years and cites possible causes including, but not limited to, the closing of the Monroe Street Bridge, the lack of parking space during evening hours and uncertainties over continued retail development in certain quarters of the Davenport Arts District.
Art by Yourself will be open until Aug. 1, and Baucom is asking patrons to come pick up any unfinished projects, and/or redeem unused gift certificates. It's always hard to see a favorite neighborhood business go the way of the California condor, but the departure of ABY (and Bitters several months ago) also raises the larger question of what's happening with a corner of Spokane (Railside Center) that just a few years ago was being talked about as the city's best chance for a hip downtown arts district. At any rate, ABY's closure is just one more refrain of an all-too-familiar chorus: Support it, or it's gone.
Gut Instincts -- In a similar vein, we're happy to report that the Met Cinema -- which was on hiatus during all the Metropolitan Mortgage fallout -- appears to be back on track. Met Theater Manager Michael Smith landed a one-week engagement of Super Size Me (see review, page 32) starting this Sunday, and hints that Love Me If You Dare -- a "wickedly delicious" romantic comedy from France in the tradition of Amelie -- may run later this month. Regular Met Cinema-goers might notice that ticket prices are a little higher than usual -- each ticket carries an extra $2 Met Preservation Fee. Smith says that the fee will apply to not only Met Cinema but all future Met shows and will be in effect for at least the next year. As far as we're concerned, $2 is a small price to pay to preserve both indie/foreign cinema and a local treasure.
Striking a Flint -- The recipients of the 2003-2004 Flintridge Foundation Award have just been announced, and we're pleased to note several familiar names. Given biennially to artists from California, Oregon and Washington, the Flintridge Foundation awards a $25,000 grant to 10 artists "whose work demonstrates high artistic merit and a distinctive voice for 20 or more years." This year, Pendleton fine artist James Lavadour (who exhibited at the MAC when it opened in 2001) and Pullman's Robert Helm are both "East Side" recipients of this prestigious award. Congratulations, gentlemen.