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First Night Visual Arts 

by Sheri Boggs


Of the four pillars of First Night success -- Celebration, Community, the New Year, and Art -- Art plays a vibrant, vital role in First Night Spokane.


"I'm really excited about it," says Denise Bowles, who headed up the visual arts committee with her artistic partner Marty Johnson. "This is a wonderful thing for Spokane." For those who have been on the Visual Arts Tour, the evening will feel rather familiar, except that First Night celebrants might be making as much art as they're seeing.


"There are art projects for the kids and also for the adults," she says. "We're also going to have some art demos and lectures."


Many established Spokane artists will be taking part, and few are more familiar to area art-lovers than Louise Kodis, who was commissioned to design the official First Night Banner, which will lead the Procession of Magical Beings.


"It's quite an honor," says Kodis. "The First Night people wanted something forward-looking and also something that would indicate a celebration. It will be used once a year, so I was allowed to be quite extravagant."


Kodis is also involved in a preview show of Inland Craft Warnings 2002 and an installation at the STA Plaza. "The preview show is a wide sampling of what Inland Craft Warnings has to offer," she says, adding that there will be textiles, glass, clay, wood, mugs and banners, among other things. Inland Craft Warnings, which Kodis has helped guide since its inception, turns 20 next fall. At the STA Plaza, be sure to check out her new piece, made expressly for First Night, Swings, Wings and Sheer Color. Long vines of gauzy, glittery fabrics roped together, swagged expanses of fuschia and teal, and delicate avian constructions "that are very reminiscent of a bird's wing" will all hang from the high ceilings of the STA Plaza the night of the gala. Add a live salsa band playing underneath and you've got yourself a beautiful spectacle.


Resolutions. Whether you make them or not, you might be tempted to preserve your good intentions for posterity at Art by Yourself. Kids and adults can inscribe clay tiles with such resolutions as "In 2002, I will be nicer to my little sister," "I resolve to work out every single day" and "I am going to be the kindest, most benevolent and compassionate person on the earth this year. I really mean it." Art by Yourself will fire the tiles and you can either save yours as a little home reminder or hang onto it until you break your resolution, at which point you can fling your tile to the ground in a symbolic act of defiance. Other pottery happenings in the vicinity include a raku kiln demo and a Potter's Party in the alley (that's the Rally in the Alley alley).


First Night will be your last chance to catch the Shani Marchant show at Lorinda Knight. "The Healing Sea," as her show is called, evokes the transparent depths, silent rhythms and strange denizens of the ocean world. Anemones, fish, sea turtles, coral, kelp and sea urchins -- painted in luminous watercolor -- fill Marchant's horizontal paintings, which gallery owner Lorinda Knight likens to "a brightly colored aquarium in the darkest month of the year." For First Night, Marchant will be giving watercolor demonstrations every hour on the hour from 7 pm to midnight. Visitors are encouraged to create their own watercolor paintings to take home as a memento of Spokane's First Night.


Several group shows round out the visual component of the evening, including some temporary exhibits in unexpected spaces.


"The Music City building is really going to be a hot spot I think," says Bowles. "The Northwest Papier Mache Guild is going to be there. They've got the raku kilns in the alley in back, there will be a few artist lectures and then there's the art itself." Ildiko Kalapacs and David Parker will both present paintings and sculptural work, Jack Smith brings paintings of wildlife, and Daisy Chapman offers a show of landscapes. The Paper Bag Ladies, who had a show at the Chase Gallery earlier this year in September, will demonstrate the art of papier-mache, followed by a demo by artist Richard Warrington, working in buffed aluminum. One room will be devoted to Frankie Hatton's installation, Sensory Awareness. "You'll walk in and there will be paintings, mirrors and lights. It's really interesting," says Bowles of Hatton's work, which chronicles the journey from addiction to recovery.


Another group show takes place at the old Lamonts building at the corner of Wall and Riverside. In addition to the Inland Craft Warnings preview show, you can also view recent works by the artists of the Art for Design group


Glassblower Conrad Bagley, owner of the Cat's Eye Gallery and founder of the Spokane Glass Guild, will be demonstrating his craft at the Spokane Regional Business Center. As long as you're in the general area, head over a few blocks to see the Japanese Cultural Center window at the Fox Theatre, honoring "Oshogatsu," which is what New Year's celebrations are called in Japan.


Moving closer to the festivities at the park, you'll find Melodie Hall's scrapbooking demo, a pastel show by Suzie Snider, woodblock printing with Dayton artist Debbie Baxter and the paintings of Pearl De Merritt. Upstairs in the Kress Gallery, recent works by Harold Balazs form an intriguing backdrop for the shenanigans of Express Theatre for Youth and the musical stylings of Allegro, LaRae Wiley and Case Closed.


Finally, the bonfire in Riverfront Park will lead you to the Ice Castle, by Michael Noble, a glass-blowing demo by Christopher Chorvat, and the Fire-breathing Dragon, by Kerri VanSickle and Lisa Maddux. "It's a real, fire-breathing dragon made out of recycled copperplate," says George Lathrop, head of operations for First Night Spokane. "It has a real fire in its belly, and they're planning to have parchment paper on hand for people to write their regrets from the year on and then feed it to the dragon."

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