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Fun at the Fox 

& & by Andrea Palpant & & & &

Art is imagined. Art is built, raised up and praised. Art suffers and falls out of favor. Sometimes, an old work of art is rebuilt, reimagined and subsequently, renowned. Such is the story of the Fox, one of Spokane's architectural landmarks. Built in 1930 and opened in 1931, the Fox stood strong as the city's main modern phenomenon and movie theater -- among other things -- until it dropped into disrepair and diminished revenue beginning in the late '70s. A recent endeavor by the Spokane Symphony has put the Fox back on track for physical restoration and public enjoyment.

The Fox will dress again in grandeur for the Visual Arts Tour. Members of the Spokane Symphony will sponsor guided tours of the building itself.

"I used to go to the Fox when I was a kid," says L.R. Montgomery, one of the artists to be showcased at the Fox during Friday night's Visual Arts Tour. "I had a paper route, so I'd pay my bills at The Review, then I'd go over to the Fox and see a movie for 25 cents. The place brings back a lot of memories. The upper level is all art deco. It's pretty spacey -- like going back in time. With silver leafing on the wall, a glass ceiling and red carpet, it's a neat place to hang out."

James Dhillon, another artist to be showcased at the Fox, delves into an artistic process that requires everything but repetition and dependable imagery. In his paintings and mixed media works, Dhillon utilizes everything from a CD-ROM drive for a three-dimensional Y2K painting to a sheet of metal foraged from a totaled semi for a found-object project entitled Slightly Altered.

"My pieces are pretty unique," says Dhillon. "The works explain themselves in an abstract language. I get an image in my head, and then I start doing it. Afterward, I try to figure out what the paintings mean. To me, art is free expression, no limitations."

Dhillon will display at least eight of his paintings on the east side of the Fox in an empty storefront space between Sprague and First.

Sponsored by the Inland Northwest Textile Arts Association (INTAA), the main lobby area of the Fox will feature a contemporary wearable arts exhibit.

"We've got exotic ice-skating costumes, opera costumes, and gowns representing the four seasons," says Debora Harder, who calls herself the "primary instigator" of INTAA. "We also have strange garments made of recycled textiles and various costumes from a current movie production project in Coeur d'Alene."

While acting as the display board for these three art exhibitions, the Fox will itself be on view, as guided tours offer a closer look into the shapes and architectural angles of the building.

"The Fox is the best example of an art deco theater north of San Francisco," says Annie Matlow, marketing director for the Spokane Symphony. "When it opened in 1931, it was the best of its kind at that time. It's retained its architectural significance to date, so it really is a special part of Spokane."

Spokane Symphony staff and volunteers will conduct periodic tours on Friday night from 5-9 pm, giving insight to the interior structure and design of the Fox.

"Many people haven't seen it in years," says Matlow. "When they did, it was usually dark for the movies. Those wonderful elements were not visible. So when we brought up the lights, people saw a whole different building. The building is also art -- so let's show off the building as well as the artists."

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