Monday, November 3, 2014

Going modern: Recently merged theaters take a new name

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 3:53 PM


Recently merged thespian centers Interplayers Professional Theater and Lake City Playhouse announced today that they have a new name: The Modern Theater.

Spokane's Interplayers Theater officially merged with Coeur d'Alene's Lake City Playhouse in September. As of today, the theaters will be known as The Modern Theater Spokane, and The Modern Theater Coeur d'Alene, respectively. In a press release, Modern Theater Executive Artistic Director George Green says that the new name is one of many changes aimed at making the theater more efficient.

"While it is not uncommon for companies to experience change and re-branding, we are very sensitive of the outcome this will have on both Spokane and North Idaho communities,"  Green says in the release. "We are making our best efforts to revitalize and grow while honoring the positive history that the prior venues exhibited over many years."
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Downtown Spokane interactive art residency seeks applicants

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 4:18 PM

A view of the Laboratory art residency unit's back deck space.
  • A view of the Laboratory art residency unit's back deck space.

The downtown Spokane interactive art space Laboratory is looking for applicants for its new artist residency program. The program calls for artists with a particular interest in interactive art, or "art that responds to the presence of interaction of the viewer," says Laboratory founder and director Alan Chatham. 

Chatham founded Laboratory in 2013 as an alternative space for artists to create and show interactive pieces.

“Interactive art as a fine-art medium is really just kind of beginning to take off,” Chatham says. “So right now there’s not a whole lot of support for it. That’s why we’re kind of hoping to be one of those first organizations to really support and help interactive artists produce work.”

Successful applicants to the residency are to begin working there next month. Laboratory will house the two artists in a recently renovated downtown apartment (located above The Bartlett, at 228 W. Sprague; residents also get free access to all Bartlett concerts during their stay) for 1-3 months, in addition to access to a 200-square-foot studio, mentorship from Chatham, and a monthly stipend. In return, resident artists are expected to produce at least one piece of art for display in the storefront gallery, located at 301 W. Main. While Chatham is personally funding the project for now, he's also starting to look for donations.

So far, applications for the residency have been light, with the majority coming from Europe. 

"The [interactive art] scene in Europe is a lot more vibrant, I think," he says.

Spokane interactive artist Alan Chatham has worked on many public art projects, like this window display at 1011 W. First earlier this year.
  • Spokane interactive artist Alan Chatham has worked on many public art projects, like this window display at 1011 W. First earlier this year.

Artists can apply for one of three focus areas, or "tracks," that provide themes for the residency. The production track is "for people who have a really cool idea and want to make something," Chatham says. The research track includes brainstorming new tools and techniques for interactive art, while the learning track is designed for artists who want to take part in the residency but need to hone their skills. All three were developed with the development of interactive art in mind. 

Interested applicants can apply at the residency's website before the first residency slot deadline of Saturday, Nov. 1. 

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jundt Art Museum's latest exhibit features Southern folk artists

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

"Big Storm A-Comin' (Noah's Ark)", by Alpha Andrews, is featured in "Amen, Amen."
  • "Big Storm A-Comin' (Noah's Ark)", by Alpha Andrews, is featured in "Amen, Amen."

Dialogues on sin and redemption, the intersection of politics and religion, and the experiences of religion in the everyday life in the American South are depicted in Amen, Amen: Religion & Southern Self-Taught Artists, currently featured at Gonzaga University's Jundt Art Museum.

Upon entering the gallery, guests are confronted with contrasting displays on both sides: devils on the left and angels on the right, establishing the battle that takes place throughout the exhibit.

R.A. Miller, an illiterate folk artist, uses plywood, old window shutters and meat packing trays as materials for these representations of good and evil. In fact, much of the art in the exhibit is made up of simple, found objects, from tin and cardboard to framed posters that have been painted over. The exhibit's featured artists were mostly uneducated, and some created their pieces in prison, or for rustic art booths at gas stations. Those on the fringes of humanity often have a unique ability to comment on the human experience and thus spur controversy and debate amongst the broader public.

The 117 pieces on display in Amen, Amen are borrowed from a larger private Carl and Marian Mullis art collection in Atlanta. Since the pieces have been twice removed from their context, once from the settings in which they were created and the again from the American South to the Inland Northwest, extended biographies are provided for each piece, familiarizing us with their backgrounds. 

Gonzaga has chosen to focus on the exhibit's theme of religion and spirituality because of the university's Jesuit affiliations, but other specific subtopics within the collection include creationism, narratives from the Old and New Testaments, examples of faith in daily Southern life, politics and religion, the crucifixion, and of course, expectations of the apocalypse. River baptisms, country churches and haunted houses are among some of the everyday scenes of the American South depicted in the exhibit. Commentaries range from 9/11, the presidential election of 1992, the Contract with America, and capitalism. New Jerusalem is imagined as high rise apartments in a post-apocalyptic depiction.


Each artist in Amen, Amen is distinct in their art styles through repetition. Such trademark images are what make folk artists so identifiable. It's why Howard Finster, featured in the exhibit and who became somewhat of a folk art celebrity in the 1980s, caught the attention of bands like REM and Talking Heads and was asked to create their album art (right). It's why Minnie Adkins was requested to create a nativity scene specifically for this exhibit, making her piece the most contemporary one in the show. Even though the aesthetics may be simple, the symbols and meanings have the potential to be incredibly complex. 

Amen, Amen runs through Jan. 10, 2015 at the Jundt Art Museum, at 200 E. Desmet, on the Gonzaga campus. Gallery hours are Mon-Sat, from 10 am-4 pm.

Attend a public walk-through of the exhibit with Jundt director and curator Paul Manoguerra on Fri, Oct. 10, at 10:30 am.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dan Butterworth kicks off Gonzaga's 2014-15 Visiting Writers Series tonight

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM


Spokane poet Dan Butterworth, who's also a professor of literature and writing at Gonzaga University, is the first guest for this year's Visiting Writers Series.

Gonzaga hosts several writers and poets annually as part of the series, organized by the university's English department and College of Arts and Sciences. Featured artists read their works aloud, take questions from the audience and discuss their careers and creative processes. 

The Visiting Writer Series this academic year also hosts poet Brenda Hillman (Oct. 21), writers Joanna Luloff (Nov. 20), Douglas Kearney (March 25) and Michael Gurian (April 15); and Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson (Feb. 18).

Butterworth's writing has been published by Algonquin Books and Lost Horse Press. Radium Watch Dial Painters, a compilation of his poems, is a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. Tonight, he reads excerpts from this book in the Cataldo Globe Room at 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public. 

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall's arts season is here, and we can't wait for these events

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Our annual, massive Fall Arts Preview issue hits stands today. It’s one of the biggest Inlanders we put together each year, and by far the largest special section focusing on the local arts community. As listings editor, the task of putting together the massive, 13-page calendar of arts events in this section is all mine. It’s a doozy for sure, but it always gets me excited as I sort through all the amazing, innovative events that roll in.

And with this year’s Create Spokane Arts Month happening through October — which is already the busiest month for the local arts scene — this year’s season is more robust than ever. I suggest getting your calendar out now, because there are too many events you won’t want to miss. Here’s a peek at what those of us who worked on the Fall Arts issue are looking forward to most. — CHEY SCOTT

This year's fest moves from Riverfront Park to Avista Stadium. - WASHINGTON BEER COMMISSION
  • Washington Beer Commission
  • This year's fest moves from Riverfront Park to Avista Stadium.

Sept. 26-27
As a newcomer to Eastern Washington, I don’t know (yet) how locals think of the beer scene. But as someone coming from a place (Salt Lake City) with a rather, um, limited number of native breweries, let me just say that navigating the wide array of craft brew options here in Spokane is daunting. Delicious, but daunting. So this Inland NW Craft Beer Festival seems like a godsend of a crash course with its promised 30 regional breweries pouring more than 100 beers. (DAN NAILEN)

Sept. 28
I’ll admit it. I bought my ticket back in May, the moment I heard Conor Oberst was set to play the Knitting Factory this fall. Since high school, I’ve been following Oberst’s discography around like a puppy — whether it was Bright Eyes albums, him and the Mystic Valley Band, solo releases or a collaboration with his fellow indie stalwarts in Monsters of Folk. His new solo album, Upside Down Mountain, has everything that’s great about Oberst: folksy rhythms, raw vocals and gnawing questions (“Say the engine failed when that plane was flying/If you were the pilot, would you curse or would you pray?”). This time around, his usual sad-soaked melodies have a hint of cheer, but — best of all — the storytelling is still poignantly beautiful. (JO MILLER)

Continue reading »

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BEHIND THE COVER: Fall Arts Preview

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM


For this year's Fall Arts Preview issue we enlisted local model Brynne Gadbury as our cover model. We wanted to make this a dynamic, vibrant cover, so we thought of splashing our model with color powder — the same stuff they use at color runs. Amazingly, she didn't mind it. Thank you so much to all of the people who make this arts scene such a vibrant one.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

National Poetry Out Loud competition seeks Washington participants

Posted By on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 3:42 PM


Poetry Out Loud, the annual, national poetry recitation competition, is looking for Washington classrooms to participate in its 2014-15 program. The deadline to apply for this year's program is Nov. 20.

Pioneered in 2006, Poetry Out Loud provides a venue for students in grades 9-12 grade to hone their memorization and public speaking skills, in addition to possibly securing money for their school. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud 2015 is the 10th iteration of the event. 

The competition begins in the classroom, with students then advancing on to school-wide, regional and state-wide finals. Winners from each state receive $200 cash and a berth to the national finals in Washington D.C. Additionally, winning the state competition guarantees the champion's home school $500 for poetry materials.

Any high school may register to compete in the event, but to do so, schools must have at least two to three teachers who implement the classroom segment of the competition before school-wide competition begins in January. State finals take place in March, and nationals are to be held April 27-29, 2015.

Washington state has taken home national honors for Poetry Out Loud over the past few years. Mead High School alum Langston Ward attended nationals as Washington state's representative two years in a row, bringing home $20,000 and first place honors in 2013. More recently, Kennewick's Kamiakin High School senior Elizabeth Mo placed in the top 10 for national finalists for 2014.

In all, almost 23,000 students participated in Poetry Out Loud competitions last year, according to the Washington State Arts Commission website. One of the six regional finals in the state will be held at Eastern Washington University, an official partner of the Washington State Arts Commission and Poetry Out Loud. 

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Terrain 7 music lineup is here

Posted By on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM


Two hundred and fifty-five pieces of art have already been selected for Terrain 7, now the music lineup for the free community arts showcase is finally here. Featuring bands from as far New York to right here in Spokane, the lineup mostly falls into the indie pop or folk rock category, and that’s OK. Note the event is now happening at the old Washington Cracker Co. building at 304 W. Pacific, rather than its familiar location on West First Avenue. The one-night-only event happens on Friday, Oct. 3, from 5 pm-2 am.

Even if you can’t afford the considerably affordable art, there’s always the music to listen to.

The schedule is as follows:

5:30 pm Gypsy Bros
6:25 pm Loomer
7:20 pm Head Hiatus
8:10pm Trummors
9 pm Lost Masters
9:45 pm Heavy Seventeen
10:25 pm Bitwvlf
11:20 pm Bishop Allen
12:10 am Durazzo

In between sets, DJ Audio Affiliated keeps the music flowing. All of these times are subject to change so be sure to pay attention to when you’re favorite act is coming on. 

Want to see this sort of event all year round? Check out the Campaign for Terrain here. 

UPDATE: A previous version of the story said an Australian band was playing Terrain. This is not the case. 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Interplayers Theater to merge with Lake City Playhouse

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 1:33 PM


Following years of financial struggles and narrowly avoided closures, Interplayers Theatre has reached a point where it can no longer can continue. Its board of directors has concluded several weeks of negotiations by signing a deal that will see Interplayers merge with Lake City Playhouse.

Once the documents are finalized at the state level, the 34-year-old professional theater will be officially subsumed by the 54-year-old Coeur d'Alene community theater led by George Green.

"On July 4, our board met with the purpose of closing the theater for financial reasons," says Michael Bowen, president of Interplayers' board of directors. "We [thought] 'Maybe we have to close, maybe we have to declare bankruptcy.'" As a third alternative, board member Ryan Oelrich suggested approaching Lake City Playhouse, the theater that Green salvaged and revitalized four years ago, "to see if they would be prepared for some type of partnership or merger."

"It turns out that Lake City Playhouse had in fact had a couple of board meetings for the purpose of planning for what happens when Interplayers folds. They saw it coming. They were ready."

The terms of the resulting merger are fairly straightforward. Lake City Playhouse will assume all Interplayers' assets and liabilities, as well as operational control of the theater. A significant portion of those liabilities is approximately $92,000 in outstanding debt.

"I'll put a big '-ish' on that figure," says Green. "We've come to an agreement on what the known liabilities are. I anticipate that there will be some future things, and that's not uncommon in this type of situation."

This wasn't the first time Interplayers found itself in dire straits. Two years ago, the theater was saved by a lease renegotiation with landlord Jerry Dicker, owner of GVD Commercial Properties. At the time, Interplayers Executive Director Pamela Brown claimed that Interplayers was "debt-free" and could "start from zero."

But the arrow quickly moved in the wrong direction on the number line. One year later, Interplayers said its 2013-14 season was contingent on its ability to solicit $150,000, some of which was to be used to cover legal fees associated with erstwhile Artistic Director Reed McColm's work visa. The theater raised only about half that amount but persevered nevertheless.

How it managed to do so is a matter of some contention. Bowen says that there was "lack of financial transparency" on the part of the executive staff, and the volunteer board of directors as a group didn't thoroughly audit the "reams of paper" they were given for inspection.

"When we appointed a finance committee of two of our board members to really investigate the finances in late June, it became evident that we were further behind on payments to vendors," says Bowen. "And more seriously, we were tens of thousands of dollars behind on state and federal payroll tax. I wish we'd realized the depth of our financial problems a year ago or we might've been able to change things."

However, the idea of a merger isn't a new one. A decade ago, after months of hand-wringing over red ink, Interplayers considered joining forces with Actors Repertory Theater of the Inland Northwest (ARt). (Incidentally, ARt was led by Michael Weaver, who recently stepped down as Interplayers' artistic director for the second time under such circumstances.) The two theater groups were ultimately unable to finalize the deal. In what would become a recurring theme, Interplayers restructured just enough to move forward alone.

Bowen says Lake City Playhouse — and more specifically, Green — is "the best hope and the only hope we have" to realize the board's primary goal of ensuring that professional theater continues in the same location. "His passion is for the theater. He's a go-getter. He's effective. And he has rescued that theater."

Despite the merger, little will change outwardly in the near term. Lake City Playhouse will carry on "business as usual," according to Green, as will Interplayers' season opener, Broadway Bound. The second-slot production, Hound of the Baskervilles, will likely be replaced "with a viable option" on account of insufficient rehearsal time and unpaid royalties.

Both Bowen and Green point out that the organizations' two months of discussions covered more abstract topics that could affect the venture.

"How is it going to be perceived to have a community theater merge and be the surviving entity of a professional organization? How is the public, how are the artists going to feel about that?" asks Green. "But we need to be clear that we're operating a business over here. The only difference between a community theater as a business and a professional theater as a business is that a professional theater is paying its performers on stage. We're both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and that's why this merger is allowed to happen."

"The goal is to have professional theater in the [N Howard Street] location," he says. "I just want to make sure that both the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene communities understand that this is being done in effort to create something positive for artists and patrons alike."
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

One-night art show "Emerge" in CdA tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM

A piece by Christina Lucky, an Art on the Edge volunteer, whose work will be featured in Emerge,
  • A piece by Christina Lucky, an Art on the Edge volunteer, whose work will be featured in Emerge,

Tomorrow evening, Friday, Sept. 12, nonprofit organization Art on the Edge — directed by one of this year's Peirone Prize winners, Jeni Riplinger-Hegsted — is hosting its first professional art show: Emerge. The show is being held inside downtown Coeur d'Alene's historic Wiggett Building, from 5 pm to midnight.

Emerge features work by 25 local artists who've volunteered with Art on the Edge. The event is free to the public and also showcases live music from local musicians, including the Frantz Brothers and Morgan Dodge, along with a local belly dance troupe's performance.

The show's purpose is to honor the local artists who volunteer to make Art on the Edge successful, as well as to celebrate the diverse and emerging artistic community in Coeur d'Alene. Riplinger-Hegsted's goal is to give people in poverty a sense of choice through creative expression. To her, art is a means of freedom and therapy. Through Art on the Edge, both children and adults can receive educational opportunities to express themselves. 

Proceeds from sales of art featured at the show go directly back to Art on the Edge, allowing the program's mission to continue.

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