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VAT - Dean Davis Studio 

by Leah Sottile

There's nothing keeping you from checking out the largest gallery in Spokane -- even if it appears that there's a building standing in your path. When you walk around the industrial-looking brick edifice, you'll find an untapped and semi-secret part of Spokane lying undiscovered. Just when you thought there was nothing undiscovered about Spokane, too.

The Dean Davis Gallery is tucked neatly into an unassuming brick building on the 200 block of West Pacific Avenue, a section of the street that's really only accessible from Bernard Street by way of Second Avenue. The gallery, which made its truly grand opening with an exhibition of Alden Mason's works exactly two years ago, is, in fact, the largest gallery space in town, with its three spacious show rooms. The space is also home to photographer Dean Davis' personal studio, and that's obvious from the framed photos lying in piles in one room, the oversized Epson cluttering another and the spotlights and vintage cameras in every corner. Sure, Davis knows all there is to know about photography -- he explained to us the temperature, in Kelvins, of his monitor -- but he knows good art, too, and he's spent a lot of time making his gallery a great place to view check it out. And Davis is pulling out all the stops for this Friday's Visual Arts Tour.

The gallery's freshly painted chalk-grey and aged-brick walls have already been spoiled, especially after holding original paintings by Mason (former teacher of Chuck Close) and Tim Lord over the past two years. This weekend, they'll be jeweled with "France, Flora, Fish & amp; F-Stops," an exhibit of various media from four of Spokane's finest artists: Gordon Wilson, Sheila Evans, Rich Greinert and Dean Davis himself.

Wilson, an art professor at Whitworth College, will display his "plein air" (painted in open air) paintings composed throughout France. The modest, soothing oil paintings exhibit the beauty of the French countryside and cityscapes, and highlight some half-eaten French cuisine in the artist's two still-life works.

Evans will display her series of pastels (fulfilling the

flora part of the exhibit's name), with 10 of the pieces illustrating the very same lushly petaled flower. Each is sketched on sanded board of organic forms and beautifies each angle of the flower with rich hues from salmon to turquoise.

Davis will exhibit some of his best photographs ("F-Stops") -- ranging from a close-up aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty to a view down a pallid glacier taken during an ice-climbing trip.

And spattered among the framed art will be Greinert's award-winning fish statues -- representations composed of tupelo gum. The models are frozen, mid-leap, as they fight to swim upstream, and Greinert has captured the true beauty of the natural world in his life-sized statuettes.

And if those four artists are not reason enough to check out the Dean Davis Gallery, maybe the bathroom is. The walls of the sizable lavatory are covered with various samples of Davis' handiwork, featuring everything from advertising photos to Christmas cards he's shot. How many galleries in town can say that art extends even into their restrooms? My guess is, not many.

Publication date: 09/30/04

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