From the moment we can first curl our chubby fingers around a green Crayola, we're driven by the urge to make pictures of the world around us. We can do it nice - on appropriate paper with the right colors in the right places - or we can do it raw - all over the living room walls in pulsating arcs of orange and purple and red.
For most of us that urge vanishes, pushed underground and only let loose for the occasional phone book doodle. The visual arts become something that other people - far more cerebral or talented people - do. As if chastened by our own lack of talent, we don't talk about the visual arts with the same excitement we'd use when talking about, say, an upcoming Death Cab for Cutie show or a bold new theatrical production. And yet, the quieter, more solitary joys of the area's galleries and museums have just as much to offer. Standing there in the hushed quiet and carefully adjusted light of a gallery space, we find ourselves silently interacting with whatever's in front of us. Emotions and thoughts rise to the surface -- a curling blue shadow suddenly brings back a memory of winter six years ago, the milky white surface of an encaustic reminds us to go to the grocery store before going home. The gallery space becomes a mirror and the visual arts are not so much a distraction as they are moments for meditation.
So, without further ado, here are this fall's opportunities for reflection and appreciation, courtesy of the Inland Northwest's many museum and gallery spaces.
The Northwest Museum of Arts & amp; Culture (MAC)
If you've ever looked carefully at old black and white photos of Spokane, you've probably noticed surprising things about the city. There was once a time when the streets were packed with pedestrians in overcoats, gloves and hats. We had real cable cars that navigated downtown with productive efficiency. People once stood in lines around the block at the State, the Fox and the Palace theatres. Arts and entertainment, not to mention a more stylish mode of dress, were once a big priority here in "Spoklahoma." The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is currently running "Spokane Memories: Photographs from the Permanent Collection," a show of such old photographs from their permanent collection (which now includes more than 100,000 prints and negatives). Look for images from longtime Spokane photographers Charles A. Libby Sr. and Jr.
In addition to the Spokane Memories show, there are five additional exhibits on view at the museum, including a show of works by part Yurok artist Rick Bartow, a mesmerizing installation by Walla Walla printmaker Keiko Hara, "Cultivating Spokane," a celebration of the city's gardens and parks, Mexican devotional folk art and "Ancient Threads, Newly Woven: Recent Art from China's Silk Road."
On Oct. 16, the museum opens "MAC Art: Eye on the Permanent Collection," a full-scale exhibit of works from the permanent collection. It's the first such show for the museum since moving to their new digs three years ago and it gives the public a rare opportunity to see the extraordinary breadth and depth of the MAC's extensive collection. And finally, the museum continues its emphasis on historical photography with the traveling collection "Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives," which opens on Dec. 10. Many of the images in this show are already indelibly seared into the contemporary American brain, including man's first walk on the moon and a series of grainy photographs chronicling the Wright Brothers' experiments in flight at Kitty Hawk.
Jundt Art Museum
Gonzaga University's Jundt Art Museum has, in recent years, offered everything from "Images of Christ" to an exhibit of shopping bags. This fall, the Jundt repeats their successful Drawn to the Wall exhibit with Drawn to the Wall II, featuring large, moveable wall pieces by regional artists Bradd Skubinna, Kay O'Rourke, Scott Kolbo, Allie Vogt, and Jeanette Kirishian. On Oct. 22, the internationally renowned ceramic artist Patti Warashina is on display with new, anthropomorphic vessels inspired by and representing the human form. Contemporary art aficionados and ceramic collectors won't want to miss this exhibit, which runs through Dec. 15.
The Jundt makes good use of its space; in addition to the main Jundt Galleries there is also the Chancellor's Room, where one will find the flaming red curlicues of a Dale Chihuly chandelier as well as a selection of Chihuly baskets, bowls and floats. The long hallway leading to the "main" exhibit is in itself a gallery space, and right now the "Arcade Gallery" is offering "From the Garden to the Table," a representation of "flower, fruit, vegetable and garden imagery selected from the permanent collection." Beginning Nov. 4, the Arcade Gallery presents rare "Eastern European Prints: 1960-1984," curated by Dr. Laura Brunell of Gonzaga University's political science department and Dr. Tony Osborne from the communication arts department.
WSU Museum of Art
It's been exciting to watch the WSU Museum of Art flourish under the directorship of Chris Bruce, who came to the museum just last year after a successful stint as curator for the Experience Music Project in Seattle. The Pullman campus is currently home to a dramatic outdoor exhibition by some of the nation's most recognizable sculptors, including Deborah Butterfield, John Buck and Tom Otterness. Unifying the works is the fact that all were fired at the Walla Walla Foundry, which is now considered one of the most important bronze foundries in the United States. Inside the museum, legendary Northwest artist Jim Dine (photographer, sculptor, printmaker and painter) has a survey exhibit of large sculpture, all built at the Walla Walla Foundry. On Oct. 25, WSU professor and well-known Northwest artist Patrick Siler will have a show of expressionistic figurative work representing decades of painting, printmaking and sculpture.
Moses Lake Museum
OK, so maybe it's a long drive, but we think the current show at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center is worth it. "Biographies of Loyal Retainers" is a show of 52 Japanese woodblock prints by Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi (1798-1861). These exquisite prints narrate the story of the Ako Vendetta, which took place on Jan. 30, 1703. Forty-six samurai visited the powerful noble Kira Yoshinaka, hoping to revenge the death of their master, Asano Naganori. The proud Yoshinaka refused to commit hara-kiri and was subsequently killed and beheaded by the samurai, who turned themselves over to the priests of a Buddhist temple at dawn the following morning. These Ukiyo-e woodblock prints are technically sophisticated for their era and offer a fascinating window into Japanese history.
The Art Spirit Gallery
The current exhibit, "Kidnapping the Muse" by Robert Grimes, combines sculpture and painting in amazing wooden wall pieces that offer a stunning interplay of shadow, color and movement. On Oct. 8, look for drawings and paintings by frequent Inlander contributor Michael Horswill. Steve Adams brings in his enormously popular glass work - including candlesticks, orbs, bowls and vases - on Nov. 12. And December is the sixth annual Small Artworks Invitational, which consists of a selection of pieces 12 inches and under by a number of regional artists. The gallery also regularly features work by the 30 artists it represents, including Don Ealy, Glenn Grishkoff, Mel McCuddin, Chris Antemann, Beth Cavener Stichter and more.
Chris Kraisler Gallery
Just a few blocks off the over-utilized main drag in Sandpoint is the Chris Kraisler Gallery of Contemporary Art. They currently feature work by Allie Vogt, Stephen Schultz, Barry Tinsley, Bill Barrett and Michael Speaker. Their next show, opening at the end of September, is "Nature on Stage," by David Kraisler, who revisits and reinvents his work from the 1980s in this show of "animal landscape" paintings.
History buffs and fans of "old" Spokane should hurry down to Colburn's to catch an exhibit of work by longtime Spokane painter Ivan Munk, ending Sept. 30. Judy Patterson's "Impressions of Five Mile Prairie," a collection of collage and "hand-stitched paintings," runs through October. "Kiko," a show of Asian-themed art by Keiko von Holt, Patti Osebold, Olivia Waterman and more is the November exhibit, followed by an as-yet unnamed show in December.
Corner Gallery in NIC's Boswell Hall
Opening Oct. 4-29 is a collaborative drawing exhibit by Gordon Wilson and Scott Kolbo. On Nov. 8, NIC welcomes graphic artist and Western Kentucky University professor Matt Tullis, whose edgy-cool one-month exhibit, "Alternative Typestyles," deals with the avant garde in typography and design.
The North Star Ceramics Center has everything the professional and amateur ceramicist requires - from tools and kilns to glazes and classes. They also have a nice little gallery in the adjoining Creighton, which kicks off their fall season with "Oceania - Terra Firma," introducing work by Spokane artist Sandy Roistacher. On Nov. 5, sculptor Matt Boland takes over the space with "Matt Boland: Self-Expressions." Finally, "Twelve Potters Potting" takes place on Nov. 19-20 and features a dozen area potters doing what (we assume) they like to do best.
In case you hadn't already noticed the brightly colored moose statues all over Sherman Avenue, Coeur d'Alene has been enjoying a year-long love affair with the moose. In fact, the first show of the Devin Galleries fall season is "Moosterpieces," by "contemporary impressionist Terry Lee. In October, be sure to check out Melissa Cole's "Color and the Living Form." Cole's distinctive, highly patterned work is densely populated with toucans, orcas, grizzlies, salmon and tortoises; her designs are deeply influenced by the aborigines and other tribal cultures. In November, the Devin pays homage to the art teachers of Coeur d'Alene school district #271 with "The Gifts We Bring." And in December, "Art in Miniature" offers small works by more than 100 artists. The Devin also carries a wide range of limited edition prints, originals and sculpture by J. Nelson, Miska, Dale Terbush, Jeannette Oostlander, Frogman and more.
The Gellhorn Gallery at Interplayers
Hats off to Interplayers for so successfully marrying the visual and theatrical arts with their new Gellhorn Gallery. Their current show, "Our Parents Ourselves," featuring Mel McCuddin, Melissa Lang and Lanny deVuono (among others) references and is inspired by their current production of Painting Churches. A mixed-media display of work from Inland Craft Warnings will coincide with their Oct. 1-Nov. 6 production of Dracula, followed by Ed Cornachio's digital photographs for their one-month run of Inspecting Carol, which opens on Nov. 18.
Good Works specializes in fine, locally made handcrafts, including glass, pottery, woodcarving and jewelry. Their current show is by Richard de Grandpre, who works in glass. In October, the gallery spotlights the delicate handmade paper works of Patti Sgrecci, followed by the mad inventions of scientifically inclined artist Tom Dukich in November. December brings a group show of the gallery's ceramic artists.
The Huneke Gallery at Spokane Art School
The faculty at the Spokane Art School is a little broader than most - the school boasts more than 40 artists teaching each session and this fall, you can see their work in the art school's Huneke Gallery. On Oct. 11, Whitworth art professor Scott Kolbo presents "Mean Town," a darkly intriguing look at community and how it is shaped by both environment and perception. Using vaguely familiar forms (for instance, the pillars in the NorthTown parking garage or the crisscrossing escalators of River Park Square), Kolbo renders a bleakly nightmarish parallel universe in which people refuse to get involved in one another's lives, creating a landscape of alienation and disposability. "Mean Town" runs through Nov. 24.
Koehler Gallery at Whitworth College
The Koehler opens its season with an exciting new show culled from the college's permanent art collection. Working with local art restoration professional Clara Woods as well as senior art students Crystal Walker and Shelly Williams, Whitworth art professors Scott Kolbo and Barbara Filo spent the summer laboring in grimy obscurity restoring and cataloging more than 400 pieces of art. The permanent collection includes a print on metal by Ed Kienholz, paintings by Kenneth Callahan and Basque Suite by Robert Motherwell. In addition to the restoration project, the college also provided funding for a specially commissioned piece by Seattle artist and professor emeritus Pauline Haas. Look for it, as well as a number of newly restored pieces, in the college's new academic facility, Weyerhaueser Hall.
On Oct. 11, Spokane artist Rik Nelson shows what's possible when used and discarded materials are viewed as raw material. Using shapes cut from aluminum can lids, laundry detergent bottles, plastic soap dispensers and other recyclables, Nelson makes large-scale pieces that incorporate both poetry and ecology.
On Nov. 30, Whitworth's junior art students exhibit their works in various disciplines, through Dec. 15.
The private ceramics collection of developer Jim Kolva and his wife Pat Sullivan is of such quality and magnitude that it's not surprising the civic-minded pair would one day open up a gallery of their own. Their first show, opening in time for the Visual Arts Tour and up through Oct. 31, features current residents of the Archie Bray Foundation, including Albion Stafford, Kowkie Durst and Ben Krupka. In November, Quarry Tile's artist in residence Sandra Trujillo exhibits large-scale tile panels inspired by the Olympics and other magnificent human endeavors. We're especially excited at the prospect of December's show, which features the wild metal constructions (and a new line of furniture) of emerging artist Tim Biggs.
Lorinda Knight Gallery
The first show in Lorinda Knight's fall schedule is the kind of thing Spokane cognoscenti and conceptual arts lovers salivate over. "Textuality" explores the building properties of books - notably their pulpable, malleable pages. Byron Clercx takes such high-profile books as The Collected Works of Sigmund Freud and Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag and uses them as raw material for symbolic sculptural pieces.
In November, Kathleen Cavender brings "Internal Dialogue," a show of work that represents a new, more abstract and intuitive direction in her richly textured landscapes.
And in December, don't miss Caren Furbeyre's "Color and Light Structures." Furbeyre uses three-dimensional fabricated acrylic pieces, liquid, transparent color and shifting planes of light to explore fluidity, interactivity and non-permanent edges.
Spokane Falls Community College
The SFCC Gallery has quietly become one of the city's best-kept secrets when it comes to edgy, often under-represented (at least in this area) contemporary art. Director Tom O'Day takes his educational mission seriously, which is how Spokane gets the kind of works you'd otherwise have to travel to New York or Chicago to see.
The gallery opens its season with a faculty exhibit, but it's a faculty exhibit with a twist. "Shift: Works in Transition" will never be the same show from one week from the next; works are scheduled to change throughout the length of the exhibit.
Fans of the "Juxtapoz" zine won't want to miss the exhibit opening Oct. 19. "Pop Surrealism: Bad Ass Low Brow and the Juxtapoz Aesthetic" promises to celebrate the murky edges where surrealism and commercialism, highbrow and outsider art, intersect. Be sure to attend the exhibit lecture, featuring former Center of Contemporary Art program director Larry Reid on Oct. 19. Ought to be a good time.
Although Studio 901 is just a little over a year old, it's quickly become one of our favorite venues. The space is tiny - not much wider than a child's bedroom - but it extends all the way from the street to the alley, leaving plenty of room for their ever-changing shows. Jacki Putnam's "Pit-Fired Ceramics" are first up, followed by longtime Spokane artist Dan McCann through October. McCann likes to work inside the box - creating small minimalist worlds inside old crates, cigar boxes and even Altoids tins. On Nov. 19, emerging mixed-media artist Kathleen Delaney Carr exhibits, and her show runs through the end of December. Studio 901, we'd like to add, also has one of the best magazine and alternative music selections in town.
Garland has turned into a bona fide little arts district, largely through the efforts of Sue Bradley's Tinman Artworks. This inspired space includes not only original art but contemporary literature, children's books, handcrafted jewelry and other intriguing objects. They also run periodic lecture series and other social events. Their September show features the haunting, darkly engaging works of Mel McCuddin. In October, the gallery pairs Felisa Carranza's mixed-media works with paintings by Jere Smith. And opening Nov. 19 is an exciting show of new enamel paintings by popular Spokane artist Ken Spiering.
Visual Arts Tour
Recent budget cuts handed down from the office of the mayor mean that this Oct. 1 event could be the last of its kind unless private entities either take it over entirely or work collaboratively with one another. As we go to press, Visual Arts Tour is still happening and downtown will once again be the scene of nocturnal, half-drunken arts appreciation on foot. We can't let this vital Spokane event go the way of the 8-track tape, folks. Be there.
Inland Craft Warnings
"Crafts" get such a bad rap. It could be that our first experience with crafts involves things like popsicle sticks, acrylic yarn and glued-on googly eyes. Fortunately, Inland Craft Warnings is here to educate us on crafts in the fine art sense. This three-day exhibition and sale takes place Nov. 12-14 this year and includes jewelry, handmade wooden furniture, pottery, hats, photography, tile work, metal sculpture and more.
Spokane Art School's annual holiday art show and sale is perfectly timed to coincide with that brow-furrowed moment when you're starting to wonder what the hell to get that certain someone on your list. Mark your calendars for Dec. 2-5.
Visiting Artist Lecture Series
This year's theme is "Populism in Contemporary Art - Links Between Culture and Art" and there's perhaps no one more qualified to speak on that subject than Doug Harvey. The provocative, humanely witty art critic for the LA Weekly is that rare breed of arts writer who can look upon both a new show of Angeleno outsider art as well as the vast, commercially phenomenal Thomas Kinkade empire and treat each with the same amount of criticial inquiry. While he might not find merit in the work itself, Harvey makes salient, thoughtful points about what such art says about our culture and ourselves. He will be in Spokane on Oct. 5-6 as part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series, which takes place at EWU and SFCC.