Fall Arts Preview - Visual Arts

by Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & ARTISTS TO SEE & r & Santiago Sierra: Spokane's Visiting Artist Series has long been one of the highlights of the year -- kudos to the folks who toil to bring the Inland Northwest a taste of the larger art world. The first artist on the 2005-06 schedule is Santiago Sierra, a Mexican who has photographed working conditions around the world as a way to underline inequality. It's art with a conscience and a message, but it's also compelling in its own right. Known for his acts of artistic activism as much as his shows, Sierra will share his work and stories of sticking up for the underclasses of all societies.

(Santiago Sierra will speak at the EWU Art Auditorium on Nov. 15 at noon. Later that day, he'll speak at the MAC at 7 pm. Finally, he'll be at the SFCC SUB at 11:30 am on Nov. 16.)

Kay O'Rourke: One of Spokane's favorite artists is back with an original show at Lorinda Knight Gallery in November. Her show is called "Fractured Silence," and its 10-plus large pieces were all inspired by poetry O'Rourke has been reading in recent years.

"Language is the seed of inspiration for the works," says O'Rourke. "I love how sometimes a few sentences trigger an image in my head. So I took a couple lines and created a painting or a drawing from that."

The line "I gallop through barracks stripped of soldiers" from Pablo Neruda's "Dream Horse" had O'Rourke dreaming of a world without soldiers at war, where a fanciful red horse can gallop unhindered.

"This has been really exciting," says O'Rourke. "I've tended to let my mind take the language and go with it. I trust my instincts more now."

("Kay O'Rourke: Fractured Silence" runs at the Lorinda Knight Gallery from Nov. 4-26. Call 838-3740.)

Tim Roda: Seattle photographer Tim Roda has been turning heads with his compelling, slightly askew family vignettes, and now he'll be bringing them to EWU for a show starting on Sept. 29. A recent MFA grad from UW, Roda lets you sneak a peek at his family life -- or does he? At first glance everything looks normal -- his son playing with toys, Roda cooking a meal -- but when you look closer, it gets weirder. Roda wears a blond wig, or a housecoat, or his arm morphs into a giant clay mitt. It's also as if he makes his home in some kind of abandoned factory in which he sets up these elaborate tableaux to photograph -- or is it really his home? It's "American Gothic," as dreamed by David Lynch.

(The Tim Roda exhibit runs at the EWU Gallery of Art from Sept. 29-Oct. 28. Call 359-2494.)

Kim Matthews-Wheaton: If uncluttered landscapes are your thing, the Columbia Plateau of Eastern Washington is heaven. Barren but for the occasional ribbon of water or rebellious coulee, the forms are bold and simple -- it's a forlornly beautiful place to paint. At least that's what Kim Matthews-Wheaton thinks. Since 1997, she's lived in Moses Lake and painted the stark scenes of her own backyard.

"She's good at capturing the visual essence, and they hold up really well [representing] the structure of the landscape," says Karen Mobley, director of the Spokane Arts Commission, which invited Matthews-Wheaton to show at the Chase Gallery starting Nov. 15. "They're really, really beautiful, and some of them are quite large. It seems like something people will really respond to here."

(Kim Matthews-Wheaton shows at the Chase Gallery in Spokane City Hall from Nov. 15-Dec. 30. Call 625-6081.)

Harold Balasz: If there's such a thing as a living institution, it probably looks something like Harold Balasz. He's tall and distinguished-looking, with a shock of wild gray hair -- and he's quick with tidbits of offbeat wisdom whenever the moment calls for it. This fall, he turns 77, so he's got the requisite years to earn "beloved community treasure" status. His work's not too bad either. Just after having finished work on the massive fountain in Riverfront Park, he's back in his studio preparing for a show at Coeur d'Alene's Art Spirit Gallery next month of all-new art.

"I don't make art anymore," Balasz corrects me. "I just make stuff."

As we talk, he tells me about his latest inspirations, including the music of Tom Waits -- especially Mule Variations. "There's a spoken-word poem on there called 'What's He Building in There?' That's been the story of my life." He also just read From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, which is about the building of a cathedral in 12th-century England. Balasz is fascinated by works that thrust skyward, especially watchtowers that have been springing up in places like Watts in L.A. and rural India.

"There's significant art being done in our time, but mostly by outsiders," he says.

As for his show at Art Spirit, "It's almost all new stuff," he says. And the subject matter? "I'm interested in everything except creamed carrots and Lawrence Welk's music.

"Right now, I'm into sequential stuff, kind of like cartoon strips, but that doesn't make any sense. I think I'm calling it absurd surrealism, or surreal absurdism or something like that."

("Harold Balasz: Codices and Stories" is at the Art Spirit Gallery from Oct. 14-Nov. 5. Call (208) 765-6006.)

Makoto Fujimura: Despite his ancestry, Makoto Fujimura studied art as an outsider in Japan. He is an American -- in fact, he was the first American to be accepted to the Japanese Painting Doctorate program. He's been a superstar of what you might call modern Asian art -- fusing traditional Japanese subjects with contemporary treatments, including abstract expressionism. He was the youngest ever to have a piece bought by the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, and his work is on the walls of many corporate HQs across the Pacific Rim.

Fujimura has long been an advocate of returning beauty to its central place in the art world, and his feelings were only strengthened after experiencing the terrorist attacks of 9/11 up close; his New York studio is near Ground Zero.

"I am increasingly hopeful," Fujimura has said, "as I observe evidence that we are all in a larger process of re-examining ourselves."

(Makoto Fujimura will share his view of art, along with some of his work, at Whitworth College's Weyerhaueser Hall, Room 203, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 7 pm. Call 777-3258.)

Scott Fife: Big Trouble is not the kind of book that jumps off the shelf at you, begging to be read. It's nearly 900 pages long, and it meanders over 50 years of American history. But people should read it, especially around here. I think it's the most important book of Inland Northwest history to come out in the past 15 or 20 years. Anthony Lukas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning super-journalist, killed himself just a few months before the book was published in 1997. So the book just kind of sat there, unchampioned, discovered only by the few hardcores who keep their eyes open for such stuff.

In December at the MAC, you'll get another chance to be exposed to the story via Scott Fife's 28 cardboard sculptures inspired by the book. Fife's busts have the look of old Roman ruins found under some rubble, subtly hinting at the history they embody in the wrinkle of their brow or the sweep of their hair.

"They've been rediscovered," says Fife of his works from his home in Seattle. "They are these monumental figures, and they reveal the destruction -- the effect of time."

And it has been a while, as Big Trouble documents the 1905 assassination of Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg, along with the subsequent investigation and trial. The controversy embroiled attorney Clarence Darrow, future Sen. William Borah and even President Theodore Roosevelt -- all of whom are represented.

But the truly compelling part, which not only inspired Lukas to write the book but also caught Fife's attention, is how the entire drama played out as a flashpoint in the American labor movement. Miners from North Idaho were blamed for the assassination because they wanted better working conditions and Steunenberg -- once one of them -- had started to side with mine owners (many of whom lived in Spokane).

"Anarchists, socialists -- all these groups disturbing the status quo, and people all over the country were frightened," says Fife. "Roosevelt even called them 'undesirables.'"

Of course, such progressive roots are long forgotten in Republican-dominated Idaho -- perhaps proof that in the long run, the mine owners won the fight, as they did in 1905. It was a turning point in regional and national history, which is why Fife -- who grew up in Moscow -- has unearthed these nearly forgotten faces so a new generation can ponder what they were fighting about.

("Big Trouble: Scott Fife's Idaho Project" opens at the MAC on Dec. 15. Call 456-3931.)

Dr. Norman and Esther Bolker: There's another form of art that underpins the wide world of art, and that is the art of collecting art. Think about it: There is no Michelangelo without the de Medicis. Most working artists depend on selling their work to keep doing what they love. So the current show at the Jundt looks at this art form from the perspective of a couple that has collected prints since the mid-1960s. Norman and Esther Bolker, former Spokane residents, have just given the last of their 800-plus piece collection to Gonzaga University, and their favorite pieces are on display this fall at the Jundt.

"Some art has only a passing appeal, while some has appeal for centuries," the Bolkers write in the show's notes. "The art of collection is based on recognizing the difference."

They did pretty well on that front, having collected the likes of Picasso, Rembrandt, John Steuart Curry and Jan Lievens. And on Sept. 22, the Bolkers will be at the Jundt for a lecture and reception. It's your chance to thank them for making such a generous gift to Gonzaga -- and to art lovers across the Inland Northwest.

("Artists' Portraits" from the Bolker Collection runs through Nov. 19 at the Jundt Art Museum. "Collectors' Choice" runs through Oct. 14. A lecture by Jundt director Scott Patnode and reception for the Bolkers is on Sept. 22 at 6 pm.)

GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS & r & The MAC: Along with "Scott Fife's Idaho Project" and "The Mapmaker's Eye" shows, this fall marks the last time you'll be able to see the long-running show of permanent collection items, "Children of the Plateau Tribes" (which ends Nov. 27).

The other major show opening this fall at the MAC is "Drawn to Yellowstone," which offers a wide variety of works depicting our nation's first national park. There are more than 70 pieces in the show, some from giants of landscape painting like Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt. "Drawn to Yellowstone" opens Nov. 5.

The Jundt: Along with the ongoing Bolker Collection shows, the Jundt will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall. To celebrate, Jundt director Scott Patnode wants to turn his walls over to Spokane. "Through My Lens" is a non-juried photography exhibit running from Oct. 21-Dec. 14. In other words, as Patnode puts it, they'll take stuff "until we run out of wall space." The only rule is you must live within 50 miles of Spokane; deadline for entries is Oct. 16.

And in December, paintings by local artist Lanny DeVuono will be on display. Her show is called "Parallel Views."

Lorinda Knight Gallery: Along with Kay O'Rourke's show in November, Lorinda Knight has a show of abstract works, "Far and Near," by local artist Ryan Hardesty, which runs Oct. 7-29.

From Dec. 2-31, local favorite Wendy Franklund Miller will show new encaustic paintings, while EWU art instructor Lisa Nappa will display her ceramics.

Art Spirit: After Harold Balasz's show ends in early November, Coeur d'Alene's Art Spirit Gallery will show the slightly whimsical, stylized charcoal sketches of Katherine Nelson, depicting the rolling hills of the Palouse. Her show runs Nov. 11-26. Then comes the annual Small Artworks Invitational, a holiday tradition in which local artists display small-size creations. It runs Dec. 2-31.

SFCC gallery: Iron & amp; Wine isn't just a hip musical act -- it also describes two of Walla Walla's top exports. The Walla Walla Foundry has become one of the most trusted places for sculptors to get their work cast -- and as a result, an arts colony of sorts has coalesced around the facility. World-famous artists like Jim Dine and regional favorites alike use the Foundry to make their dreams real. This fall, the SFCC Gallery of Art is hosting a show of work from a variety of artists who use the Foundry, including Terry Allen, Robert Arneson, John Buck, Deborah Butterfield and Jim Dine. The show runs from Sept. 19-Oct. 20, with a lecture on Sept. 22. Sorry, but Walla Walla wine not included.

EWU Gallery of Art: After the Tim Roda show, EWU will host a show of works by two well-known regional artists, Sally Graves Machlis and Cathryn Mallory. Machlis teaches art at the University of Idaho, while Mallory is the director of the Gallery of Art at the University of Montana. Both work in mixed media. Their show runs from Nov. 3-Dec. 7.

Huneke Gallery: Local sculptor Richard Warrington will show at the Spokane Art School's gallery from Oct. 3-28. Warrington has been a working artist outside Cheney since the mid-1970s, and his distinctive, expressionistic sculptures appear in many corporate settings and as public art. After that, the gallery will host its Fibers Exhibit, with a variety of artists represented, from Nov. 3-23.

Prichard Gallery: The University of Idaho debuts an innovative new program this fall called "Week Spot." These week-long sessions create a tight focus on an artist. For the week of Oct. 4-11, it's filmmaker Bill Morrison, who gained notoriety for showing his avant-garde film Decasia at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002: His films are also part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Made entirely of found film in various states of decay, Morrison describes the 70-minute film as "a portrait of humanity using decay, our battle with time, as its common language."

From Oct. 14-Nov. 19, photography will be on display, with the works of Montana photographer Richard Buswell, who documents the vanishing parts of the American West, and "Extreme Horticulture" photos by John Pfahl.

Corbin Art Center: The watercolors and mixed-media work of Terri Austin-Beech will be on display from Oct. 7-Nov. 19. Austin-Beech had a gallery in Post Falls, but has since moved away. This marks her first show back in the Inland Northwest.

Chase Gallery: Regional art is always on display in the clean, well-lighted space just outside City Council Chambers at Spokane City Hall. This fall, along with Kim Matthews-Wheaton, it's the wry ceramic sculptures of Keith Simpson (Oct. 4-Nov. 11).

Tinman Artworks: Garland Avenue has been even more revitalized since Tinman opened up and offered a regular schedule of exciting shows. This fall starts with Spokane Art School instructor Judy Patterson (Oct. 7-29). Then it's one of Spokane's most eclectic and distinctive artists, Ildiko Kalapacs, whose brightly colored golems can be seen on the sides of a few buildings around town. Her show runs from Nov. 4-27. Finally, neon artist Ken Yuhasz teams up with another distinctive artist, Mel McCuddin, for a combo show that runs Dec. 2-31.

Avenue West: One of the new galleries along West First, Avenue West, has the watercolor show "Fire and Ice: Disparate Views" by Marilyn Matherly and Cheryl Halverson for the month of October. In November, it's jewelry by Beth Viren. In December, Avenue West's own Dian Zahner shows her paintings and weavings inspired by Mexico.

Kolva-Sullivan Gallery/Red Sky Gallery: Ceramics are always the medium of choice at Kolva-Sullivan, and this fall is no different. Opening Oct. 7, there's a show of works from the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Mont. The next day, there will be a workshop, too. In November, Bray resident Trey Hill will open his show on Nov. 4. Next door at the Red Sky Gallery, it'll be works by Rosemary Coffman. Starting Dec. 2, they move from ceramics to paintings by Dana Harvey. But don't worry, ceramic sculptures and pots from Chris Kelsey will be at Red Sky.

SPECIAL EVENTS & r & Visual Arts Tours: Thanks to the tireless dedication of local volunteers at the Spokane Art School, the Downtown Spokane Partnership and the Lorinda Knight Gallery, tough times at City Hall have not spelled the doom of the beloved tradition we know as the Visual Arts Tour. On Oct. 7, from 5-9 pm, upwards of 30 local galleries open their doors with snacks, sips and glittering conversation. Many galleries open new shows that night to add to the excitement. Pick up your Inlander on Oct. 6 for a full schedule and map.

Bear Necessities Auction: You may have come to love them -- heck, you might have even named a few of them. But now it's almost time to say goodbye -- unless, of course, you're willing to take one home forever. That's right, the "Bear Necessities" campaign is drawing to a close, and all those colorful bears that have camped out around downtown are about to be auctioned off, with all the proceeds going to fund the Ronald McDonald House.

The big auction celebration will be Oct. 8 at the Davenport Hotel. Your $150 ticket gets you dinner, wine and hors d'oeuvres. Most important, however, it gets you a front-row seat to the auction, when you can bid to put one of these big boys in your back yard or place of business. And even if you don't make the Davenport event, they'll be raffling off several of the bears during the week leading up to the final event.

Inland Craft Warnings: It's a tradition akin to snow falling around here: November means Inland Craft Warnings. Spokane's big juried arts and crafts show and sale is back at the Convention Center from Nov. 11-13. So save up some of that Christmas spending money for a one-of-a-kind, handmade gift.

Yuletide: & r & Spokane Art School's big fund-raiser offers holiday shopping for those who like to support local artists. This year, the gala weekend is Nov. 25-26, but the sale will run through Dec. 24, so you'll really have no excuse for missing it.

For more of our Fall Arts Preview see our Arts and Culture section or pick up hard copy of our paper.

Pride Night Out: Arts & Culture Crawl @ Human Rights Education Institute

Wed., June 16, 6 p.m.
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