Downtown is set to come alive with color, art and celebration thanks to the Spokane Queer Art Walk, which is the first of its kind in the state. Nine downtown venues — including the Chase Gallery, the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery and Saranac Art Projects — will host exhibits consisting solely of LGBTQ artists.
Around 40 artists are being showcased across multiple venues, featuring paintings, spoken word, textiles, dance, drag, ceramics and a DJ. The Queer Art Walk happens alongside Spokane's regularly scheduled First Friday festivities.
"It's a wide variety of art that will be there — kind of the rainbow spectrum," says Andrew Whitver, who spearheaded the walk's creation.
Whitver moved to Spokane from Seattle a year and a half ago. He was surprised when, last June, he couldn't find any venues showing LGBTQ art in celebration of Pride Month, and he immediately got the arts group Terrain on board to show queer art for the following June.
"I started thinking about it and I thought, 'Why stop there?'" he says.
Whitver, who created the Capitol Hill Queer Art Walk in Seattle, said that Spokane's will be "bigger, better and have a greater impact." This is due to one important detail: The Spokane Queer Art Walk is citywide, which means several major art venues will be participating, rather than only venues in a certain neighborhood.
"What's interesting about Spokane is that there isn't a 'gay neighborhood' — we're everywhere," he says. "So it does make sense that it's the whole city."
The Queer Art Walk as a whole has no overarching theme, and there's no specific order in which the venues have to be observed. While some venues are curated, others are not: The Spokane Public Library, for instance, accepted and will be displaying any and all art that was sent to them by queer artists, around 30 in total.
Margaret Mount is a local textile artist who will be showing pieces in three venues, including the library, and she notes the importance of using the word "queer" in the title of the event.
"It's a word that didn't always have a positive connotation," she says. "So I love that we are reclaiming it."
The Spokane Queer Art Walk is important to Mount and, she says, to the Spokane queer community at large, because it gives her the opportunity to celebrate her identity through art.
"Being queer has never been an advantage before," she says. "But in this sense it is, which is really cool. Celebrating a historically marginalized group through art is exciting."
Whitver says the Art Walk is really for the younger generations of LGBTQ people. Although he says he no longer cares what others think, he does remember being young and the fear that being queer can sometimes instill, and he hopes the Art Walk will combat it.
"I want to get the young people out there so they can see that [queer people] are everywhere, and they're super diverse," he says. "I want young people to see that all these people are out, and they're being accepted by the community." ♦
Spokane Queer Art Walk • Fri, June 7 at 5 pm • For more information, see facebook.com/SpokaneQueerArtWalk
- Chase Gallery, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
- Downtown Spokane Library, 906 W. Main
- Kolva-Sullivan Gallery, 115 S. Adams St.
- Trackside Studio Ceramic Art Gallery, 115 S. Adams St.
- Terrain Gallery, 304 W. Pacific
- First Ave. Coffee, 1011 W. First
- Art Spirit Gallery in the Wonder Building, 835 N. Post
- Saranac Art Projects, 25 W. Main
- Dean Davis Photography, 216 W. Pacific