The Arts Badge

by Sheri Boggs

I still have my Camp Fire Girls vest. Moth-nibbled, crumpled and looking every bit as old as it is, this one garment says a lot about me. In fact, it sorta says too much. Specifically, the damning evidence of my honor beads. Honor beads were small geometric shapes in orange, green, brown, sky blue, yellow and red, and they were given for performing specific tasks in a variety of endeavors - say, "science" or "home" or "civic duty." Instead of making little designs on my vest, I strung my beads on leather cords and let them whip out from my shoulders in dramatic, '70s fashion. But looking at them now, I can't help but notice I don't have a single round red bead (sports). Not one. Sad.

But damned if I don't have lots of four-sided oval green beads. The green beads were for "creativity" and -- I'm proud to say -- I earned a veritable sh**-load. I seemed to get them just by being my nerdy little self. In fact, these days I get paid just to be my nerdy self. The world is an amazing place, isn't it?

So, if you're like me and would rather use your tennis racket as a spaghetti strainer (a la Jack Lemmon in The Apartment) than for an actual game (yawn...), keep reading. You can get a merit badge in this category without even breaking a sweat. You can either do it yourself with materials you'll find laying around the house (or yard, or forest), or you can do it the easy way and visit the region's galleries, museums and other art events.

DIY Arts and Crafts:

Andy Goldsworthy is a Scottish artist famous for his installations - huge balls of twigs, gravity-defying stacks of stones, serpentine leaf formations that turn from bright spring green to deep red as they wind through the grass. One time while interviewing Mel McCuddin, we learned that he and fellow artist Harold Balazs like to leave similar constructions deep in the woods when they go hunting. It's easier than you might think - balancing river rocks is an activity involving both zen-like patience and an eye for design. And who can't make Blair Witch Project stick people and hang them around the campsite for the next lucky camper? While "Leave No Trace" is a noble camping guideline, why not leave behind a little bit of secret, fleeting art for someone to find?

Reverse Body Painting involves nothing more than sunlight and sunscreen. Yes, tanning is bad. Very, very bad. But if you're going to do it, why not paint designs on yourself with sunscreen - maybe a little Mehndi patternwork on your hands or a heart on your left ankle - and see if you can see it at the end of the day? For delicate designs, use a paintbrush and strong sunscreen; for a simple heart or a smiley face, good ol' fingers ought to do the trick.

Make It and Take It, offered by the Tinman Gallery on Garland Avenue, is a monthly class in which, for a nominal fee ($10 or so) you learn how to make something artful and take it home with you. This summer, they have classes for handmade paper cards, handcrafted silver charms and the making of "Totem Pins." Also, be sure to check out the class listings for the Spokane Art School, which offers classes and workshops for both kids and adults.

Outdoor Forts for Grownups are an idea whose time has come. Grab some cardboard or plywood or simply some mosquito netting and sequester off part of the yard as your own hot-weather hideaway. Hammocks, "No kids allowed" signs and a well-stocked cooler are definite must-haves. Extra points given for following a theme with your fort (i.e., "Tiki Hut," "Hidden Jungle Military Complex," "Out of Africa Romance Korner" or "Kiddie Pool Desert Oasis"). Send us pictures of your creations!

Art to Go See

Some walking is involved if you plan to hit Coeur d'Alene's Art on the Green, which takes place this year Aug. 5-7 on the North Idaho College campus. One of the largest art festivals in the region, Art on the Green includes food vendors, demonstrations, live music and stuff for the kids. (Who knew so much fun could be had decorating a gourd?)

The Northwest Museum of Arts & amp; Culture (MAC) has several intriguing new shows opening this summer. First up is Joe Feddersen, a Colville artist, printmaker and professor whose colligraphs, aquatints and monoprints mimic the dramatic patterns found in Native American baskets of the Inland Plateau Region of the Columbia Basin. His works will be displayed along with baskets and cornhusk bags from the MAC's permanent American Indian collection. Tom Dukich's installation "Sonified Weather: Spokane/Seattle" is the artist's fascination with regional weather patterns, turned into sound. Described by the MAC as "a jazz-like composition," the installation is based on five years of governmental weather data with various instruments representing rain, sunshine, barometric pressure and temperature. At the Jundt Art Museum, they're replacing their long-running exhibit of Dale Chihuly vessels with prints by Italian printmaker Peiro Fornasetti. The 39 screenprints on wallpaper date from the 1970s and are inspired by the face of Lina Cavalieri, a woman whose portrait the artist found in a magazine from the 1800s.

Art Walks are a fabulously social way both to see and be seen. Stop in at your favorite gallery, indulge in a little wine and cheese, and chat up your fellow art-lovers while showing off your strappy new sandals or horrific sunburn. In Spokane, mark your calendars for First Friday, which is, of course, the first Friday of every month and the time when live music fills the streets and the galleries stay open for your perusing pleasure. Ever a good neighbor, Coeur d'Alene's Art Walks take place on the second Friday of every month. Sandpoint has yet-to-be scheduled Art Walks for several weeks out of every month and the North Country Artist Trails is a self-guided brochure tour to artist studios and galleries throughout northeast Washington. Participants have varying hours, but all of them will be open to the public the last weekends of July and August.

Regional Galleries

Summer is the perfect time to visit art in far-flung places, which is where the Entr & eacute;e Gallery at Priest Lake comes in. Located near Elkin's Resort on Reeder Bay Road, the Entr & eacute;e has a steady lineup of regional crafts and fine art, including functional pieces for the "yard and garden." The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d'Alene is showing Gonzaga University professor and contemporary artist Mary Farrell beginning July 8, followed by regional favorite Mel McCuddin in late July. There are a lot of galleries closer to home - too many to include them all here, but the Chase Gallery's Palouse-inspired show (running through July) looks like a lot of fun, as does Tom Dukich's other show this summer, the Animal-Human Bond at the Spokane Art School's Huneke Gallery beginning July 18. Dukich makes science, data and technology come alive when interpreted through an artist's lens. Finally, the Lorinda Knight Gallery is a reliable bastion of contemporary art during the summer, featuring Stephen Rue through June and July, and Doug Turman through August.

Publication date: 06/09/05