"The Strip Show” is a deliberate tease — small, narrow glimpses into the capabilities of Spokane Falls’ visual arts faculty members and a few alumni.
Some of that owes to the exhibition format: All work had to be 10 inches wide by 10 feet high in order to accommodate 30 artworks within SFCC’s 950-square foot gallery space.
The initial impact when you enter the gallery is of totems or banners, each honoring a different artist, but also a range of styles, media, concepts and focal points. Some of the work is abstract, some narrative. A few pieces push the boundaries of taboo, others the limits of technology. This is a slice of what’s happening in visual art.
On one level, the exhibition showcases 14 current faculty members’ studio practices. Sculpture instructor Peter Jagoda’s forged and fabricated steel “Column” is stoic, minimal. On the other
hand, drawing and watercolor instructor Tobe Harvey’s “Spokane Falls” is lavish with imagery and color: conversation bubbles, renderings of rocks and water, bits of textured paper, drawings and paintings layered and pieced together like a vertical journal of the artist’s innermost thoughts. Ceramics instructor Lee Ayars shows “Seven Four-Legged Lidded – Jars on Shelves,” created while instructing students over a two-year span. We get to see the art behind the art teacher.
On another level, the exhibition highlights SFCC’s impact on the artistic community dating back to the 1970s. Rebecca Laurence, for example, earned her associate degree in 1977, before the Association of Fine Arts existed. Her woven, untitled panel chronicles moments — burning logs in a fireplace, hands outstretched, birds flying overhead.
Owen Rundquist earned an associate degree at SFCC in 2000, then a bachelor’s in fine arts at EWU and a master’s from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He now resides in New York.
His untitled piece is sophisticated and subtle, combining powdered pigment, aerosol and collage on paper to express a tree-form against a smoky blackness.
Just a year out of SFCC, Nikki Freeman provides a thought-provoking, refreshingly unpretentious acrylic and paper on canvas entitled “Rockets.” Reading like a graphically graphic novel, Freeman’s piece is as straightforward as her statement: “I make porn, befriend criminals, and occasionally I paint about it.”
Freeman’s statement, along with those of the other 30 artists, is included in a concise brochure providing just enough direction for viewers to “get” what’s happening in the gallery. We don’t know which faculty invited which alumni, nor their influence. And even though there are suggestions of commonality — an abundance of charcoals, numerous students who work in assemblage — this exhibition is also an homage to the multiple ways by which art communicates the human experience.
After all, it’s also a teaching exhibition, a lesson for SFCC students that the public is invited to sit in on.
“Strip Show 10x10: SFCC Faculty/Alumni Show” • On display through Sat, Feb. 4 • SFCC Fine Arts Building • 3410 Fort George Wright Drive, Spokane • Artist Reception, Thurs, Jan. 12 from 2:30-4:30 pm • www.sfccfinearts.org/gallery