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Art for All 

Museums are not always indoors and exhibits don't always require entrance fees

click to enlarge Jeff Moore and his 11-year-old daughter Shelby play ping pong on a mural by Susan Webber at Riverfront Park during a July groundbreaking event for the park’s renovation. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Jeff Moore and his 11-year-old daughter Shelby play ping pong on a mural by Susan Webber at Riverfront Park during a July groundbreaking event for the park’s renovation.

"Public art offers moments in a day to look at things differently, or to think of things differently," says Laura Becker, executive director of Spokane Arts.

Here is some of the area's newest public art.

PING-PONG TABLE MURALS

When construction kicked off on Riverfront Park in July 2016, the public gained murals painted on ping-pong tables. Debuting on July 8 to kick off construction for the redevelopment of the park, the murals will be up on construction fences during the duration of the construction, making for a much more visually appealing view than dirty construction curtains.

"The hope is that there will be a field of ping-pong tables, and people can play on public art," says Becker of the murals' ping-pong table format debut. "Then they will be reimagined throughout the summer."

Twenty tables-turned-murals are involved in this project. The only guidelines were that they be family-friendly and not political. "We find when we drill down on a theme, it isn't as good as when we say, 'Do what inspires you and represents your body of work,'" says Becker.

NEW MAPLE STREET BRIDGE MURAL

Artist Todd Benson's new mural on the Maple Street Bridge is brightening the scene along the route. Located predominantly on the east side of the northbound lane of the bridge, with a smaller portion on the west side, the mural was painted in late July.

As Spokane's Waste to Energy Plant celebrates its 25th anniversary, this was a chance for Benson to highlight and honor the plant. "People put their trash out and don't think about where it goes," says Benson. "This is a chance to honor the people who work there and to be mindful about the work."

DIAL-A-STORY

Pay phones are a fading scene on the landscape of cities these days; however, three new phones were installed in August in the West Central neighborhood.

Dialing different numbers allows you to hear personal stories of the neighborhood, based on writings done by West Central residents at Spark Central, an innovative local nonprofit education center. 

"It's helping people respond to their place," says Becker. "It's a lovely and great experiment that blends so many different forms of art," she says of the visual, written and audio art combined for this experience.

Phones are located in the West Central Community Center parking lot, Dutch Jake's Park, and near BATCH Bakeshop, and will be up for at least two months.

SIGNAL BOXES

Thirteen of Spokane's signal boxes were transformed into pieces of art last year and 19 new boxes got the artistic treatment in 2016, with installations taking place in April and May, coinciding with the "Cleaning the Corridor" neighborhood improvement on East Sprague. This year's project showcases the artwork of 18 new artists.

The city asked for a theme of "history and industry."

"We wanted to encourage artistic freedom with the designs," says Ellen Picken, program manager for Spokane Arts Fund. "Each box is unique, from Morse code to abstract caribou."

Artists created digital designs, or scanned handmade artwork, and Standard Digital Printing printed and installed the vinyl wraps, as well as an anti-graffiti coating. The selection of vinyl is easy to clean and even replace if any major damage is done. 

"From locals to visitors, we hear positive, even excited responses to the artwork," says Picken. "They say, 'Let's cover them all!'"

One box at a time, people. One box at a time.


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