click to enlarge Artist Kate Vita - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
Artist Kate Vita

Just less than a year ago, Spokane artist Kate Vita was preparing a show called Naked, a series of portraits she did of friends who'd sent her photos of their makeup-free, unsmiling faces.

"There is an invisibility that happens to women of a certain age, and I think that a lot of my friends share that experience," the artist told the Inlander's Chey Scott in a story we did about the show. "'It was very nice to be seen' is what a lot of them told me."

Vita died recently after a struggle with cancer, and her friends and artistic peers mourned on Facebook through the weekend. She was still working on colorful portraits into this year, and you can find samples and videos of her work on her Facebook page.  You can also find a remarkable set of her work on her blog.


Not only did the paintings in Naked showcase a remarkable talent, Vita also had a remarkable life before moving to Spokane, including working as an animator on shows like Ren & Stimpy and Duckman.  She also worked with her husband and fellow artist Richard Vander Wende on the remarkable Window Dressing project for Sharma Shields' The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac for Get Lit! in 2015, and had work featured in a couple of Terrain shows as well.

click to enlarge Sharma Shields sitting in the Get Lit! Window Dressing project Vita worked on with artist Richard Vander Wende.
Sharma Shields sitting in the Get Lit! Window Dressing project Vita worked on with artist Richard Vander Wende.

Vita captured her artistic philosophy this way on Facebook "about" page:

"I paint because I see things that stop me in my tracks, that make me feel alive, that remind me to stop and pay attention. I try to record them so as not to forget. Not what they actually were, but how I felt about them. I’m sharing those records here so that perhaps you can see in them some of what I did — and, in that way, we can be connected."

click to enlarge Some of the portraits in Naked. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
Some of the portraits in Naked.

Funny Girl @ Spokane Civic Theatre

Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 14
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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine and The Oregonian. He grew up across the country in an Air Force family and studied at...