by Ann M. Colford

Downtown isn't the only place to see art this Friday. The city's newest art venue, Tinman Artworks, opens its doors on West Garland for the first time Friday evening, just in time for the Visual Arts Tour. Occupying the space held by Ratel's Art Supply for many years means that gallery owner and artist Sue Bradley hasn't had to change the vibe of the space. As a long-time customer of Ratel's, she knew the area. And while there were a couple of other vacancies in the block when she first took the space, new tenants have moved in since, revitalizing the area yet again.

"Everyone here is kind of re-energized," she says. "We've got the Blue Door Theatre improv group right next door, which is a hoot, and there's a gaming center going in next to that. They're bringing some nightlife to the area."

Bradley sees distinct advantages to being in a multi-use area like Garland rather than in the midst of downtown, despite the differences in traffic volume. "I think this stretch of Garland functions something like a mall," she says. "We have the theater at one end, and then we have food vendors and the great stores. And we have free parking. The parking is free, the rents are lower, and it's a neighborhood. Those are all pluses."

Just a couple of blocks away, mixed-media artist Felisa Carranza has been in her combination studio and gallery, Estudio de Arte Felisa Carranza, for about four years now. Although she generally opens the space only by appointment, Carranza will open her doors for Friday's Visual Arts Tour and again on Saturday afternoon. The Spanish-born and French-educated artist says she loves the light in her south-facing storefront.

"I really like this space because I have such good light here," she says. "I can have lots of sunlight -- when there is sunlight, that is -- all through the day.'

Drawing people to her studio has been a challenge during past art tours, but Carranza does what she can to get the word out.

"It's been difficult to get people up here for the arts tours, so I send out invitations," she says. "It's always a good reception, even if there's not as many people as I'd like."

This weekend, she'll have large acrylic and mixed-media canvases like the ethereal El Toro ("The Bull") and the delightfully tongue-in-cheek Gallina Sin Plumas ("Chicken Without Feathers"), along with her sculpture series, Sounds of the Cave, several newer giclee (zhee-CLAY) prints, and many smaller works.

Also north of the river but closer to downtown lies the Spokane Art School's Huneke Gallery at 920 N. Howard, near the Spokane Arena. "We think of ourselves as being downtown, but sometimes it seems to take a lot of effort to get people to cross over the river and through the park," jokes director Sue Ellen Heflin. Parking for events at the school can be either a joy or a headache, depending on the schedule at the nearby Arena, and the availability of parking directly affects gallery attendence. "The Arena definitely has an impact, because of the parking issue. Who's showing makes a difference, too, but generally we get a good turnout for the Visual Arts Tour."

Local artist Patty Dike Haag, who teaches at Spokane Falls Community College, will show her series of paintings called Water Signs through March 7, with a reception on Friday evening for the tour. "We'll have some light refreshments," Heflin says. "Nothing fancy, but there'll be something to munch. With nice paintings to look at and great people to talk to. It's always a fun night."

As far as outside venues go, don't forget some of the more obvious venues, like the Jundt Art Museum, the MAC and especially a smaller venue like Whitworth's Koehler Gallery.

On the south side of the river lies the Corbin Art Center at 507 W. Seventh Avenue, in the historic former home of D.C. Corbin, one of early Spokane's most influential citizens. The mansion is on the Spokane Register of Historic Places and it is within the Marycliff-Cliff Drive National Historic District. One of the Center's instructors, Susie Snider, will exhibit several of her richly colored pastels in the gallery through March 6, and the Center will be open through 9 pm on Friday for the arts tour.

"Light and shadow play the biggest roles in her compositions, and she always has fun subject material," says director Lynn Mandyke. "You can really see the versatility of pastels in her work."

Besides the art on the wall, the building is a work of art itself. And at this time of year, when the surrounding trees are bare, Mandyke says the view of the city lights from the front door is spectacular. She says the Center will be sure to stay open all the way through 9 pm to catch folks who want to make one last stop on their way home up Stevens Street.

Publication date: 02/06/03

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