We, the makers of this blog, have banded together in an effort to highlight and discuss the visual arts taking place in Spokane. We feel that exploring the diverse, regional art opportunities is an important step in growing an art community. We invite you to look through our events and become a part of our discussions. Thank you for stopping in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Timothy Ely at the MAC

Timothy Ely’s exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Culture, Timothy C. Ely; Line of sight, is a collection of beautiful handcrafted manuscripts, which are the art objects that Ely creates. Each book is full of detail, there are diagrams, maps, pictures, found objects, and Ely’s own made up language filling each book. Ely draws inspiration from biology, chemistry, astronomy, ancient Egypt, alchemy, science fiction and many other things to create one of a kind books. Each book seems to be reminiscing of sacred texts from hundreds of years ago, and at the same time they look like the are from the distant future. Ely says, “My books are atlases of arcane territories and theoretical futures.”
While I would highly advise going to this exhibit there were a number of things that bothered me about the concepts within the art. From what I gathered by going to the museum, and reading the wall texts and the provided literature I got the impression that each book has a theme that it focuses on. However, without being able to flip through the books, or have pictures of each of the pages, or additional texts on each of the individual books the viewer is unable to see how this done within the books or what the themes of any of the books were.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Matt Boland at the Kolva Sullivan Gallery

This evening I attended Matt Boland's art exhibit at the Kolva Sullivan Gallery. Matt was raised here in Spokane and has resided here most of his life. He attended Spokane Falls Community College for a short while and also attended college in Pullman, Washington. After college Matt was a little unsure of what his life had in store. He came to the conclusion that he wanted to pursue his dreams of becoming an artist. "I just wanted to get out of Spokane," he said. So he moved to Georgia to work with another artist. After some time spent there he realized that Spokane is where he wanted to be.

Matt is an extremely gifted artist and sculptor and displays this through his unique artwork. The exhibit appropriately labeled Scream and Shine was of ceramics and mixed media. Clay was the base for his pieces, while some were accented by screws, bolts, paint, and some other forms of mixed media. His biggest inspiration and influence was from comics, cartoons, and horror movies. Matt realized, specifically at the young age of 12, that he was fascinated by horror movies and wanted to create what was happening in them.

One piece I felt a strong connection with was called, "Too Carry My Own Weight" (as seen in the picture to the right). It really caught my eye with the intense struggle and emotion shown in the piece. Matt explained it as depicting the stress and pressures of finishing school and entering the "real world." This is something many people can connect with. One can literally see the emotions that often times may come with the transition to a new chapter in life.

Matt explained to me that much of his work rooted from arguments and/or conflicts within himself. I really think his work can relate to anyone. All of us face struggles and our own battles through life and he has expressed many of his own through his sculptures. It was an extremely interesting exhibit in the way that each individual piece carried its own story and such a strong identity. Do you think that artwork is more relatable and enjoyable to the audience when it is on a more personal level such as Matt Boland's work?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mark Pauline at the MAC

On Wednesday November 17 Dillon and I had the opportunity to go downtown to the Museum of Arts and Culture to listen to a lecture series given by the director of Survival Research Laboratories, Mark Pauline. Mark spent his late teen in the work force learning the difficult labor-intensive way that many Americans make a living. After just a few short years he decided he needed to go to college and after graduating college he began SRL in 1978 in San Francisco.

After his short experience in the defense engineering industry, Mark got tired of making things to hurt people and wanted to extract the hidden entertainment from these robotic machines. He felt as though everyone lives with a certain level of fear about the technologies that surround them, so he created SRL to extract the innate fear of technologies from his audience.

SRL’s focus is to create an orchestra of machines that terrify us while at the same time make socio-political, satirical commentary. A typical show put on by SRL spans anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes long and has a budget between $10,000 to $400,000. Mark personally determines the show size by tonnage of the combined robots, which can range anywhere from 10 to 100 tons of equipment. Many of the shows include elements that intentionally overload your senses, for example in many shows he has screeching, smaller jet engines, grinding, banging and my personal favorite the v1 buzz bomber, loud enough to be heard from 21 miles away.

The artist lecture, opened the public's eyes to a new kind of art, an art that attempts to be "the most original kind of art"-- art that is so complicated that it has never been done before, and shows that require so much time that it will never be done again. We feel that we are connected to this type of work because we feel that any artist's main goal is to be "the most original". Mark stated how his work was so far disconnected from reality, that he needed no explanation behind his intentions, other than "that's just the way things are". What determines if a work is original? Is there a point in time that no matter what one does, it was already done before, and we're just trying to make it better? Does a work have to be original to be good, or is the minimum alteration of “10%” going to become standard?

Roger Feldman at the Brian Oliver

Roger Feldman is no stranger to the Northwest. As a young man he received his BA in art from the University of Washington. He also received an MFA in sculpture from Claremont Graduate University, and then went on to study seminary as well. At this time in his life Roger is a professor at Seattle Pacific University and continues to create works of interest for many people. Mr. Feldman is well traveled, he has works in the United States, Austria, Indonesia and England. His works can also be seen on University campuses such as George Fox University. All of Roger's works have a theological air. His creations symbolize the Holy Spirit, repentance and the tree of life, among other things.

The Brian Oliver Gallery at Whitworth University was honored to host Roger Feldman on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 from 5:00-7:30. His collection of pieces is one of a kind. He used elements of water, desert, clouds, wind and rain to illustrate a theological basis. These were the reoccurring themes. He used renewable materials such as bamboo to bring another aspect into play. By bringing this exhibit to Whitworth he was able to connect with others who have similar theological views, to bring them a new perspective of the meaning of art. I believe that his intent was to show Christ in every part of his artwork. We may have to look very deeply to see the meaning, but it is always there. Christ is always in the background, and at the center of Roger's metaphors. At the beginning of the exhibit was a pallet hanging from a bridge, it was stacked full of old, broken objects. The counterweight was purified water. When talking with Roger he explained to me that this part of the work symbolized purity countering brokenness, with Christ being the bridge. The pallet of broken things represented the world that was broken but was bridged by Christ's purity. As I walked through the rest of the exhibit I found references to water, desert, and renewable materials. The wall of clouds in the exhibit represents the process of water evaporating from the oceans or rivers and being transported by clouds. When you were in the exhibit you could hear running water and rain, yet another link to the resources of the earth. Another part of the work was a wall of water directly behind the wall of clouds and next to it was a wall representing desert. In this work you could easily see the elements of the earth working together. I asked Roger what his favorite part of the work was, and he said that it was the sail that was being used as a projector screen. He said that it was important to him because it represented the Holy Spirit which plays a huge role in his life. These simple yet profound shapes have the ability to affect many. People can visually see what Christ is doing for us. They can also visually see the cycles of the earth, and the harmony that it creates.

Roger Feldman's works are different from other artists, for instance an artist who paints, such of Van Go can only bring out one sense, the sense of sight. Roger creates pieces that can be experienced by sight, sound, and touch. In these works you can actually experience the pieces. The viewer can walk through it, look at it, hear it, and make many other conclusions from their sensory experience.

At first I felt very disconnected from the work because I failed to find any deeper meaning in the piece. At the beginning all I saw was a pallet packed with junk, but after talking to Roger I found the deeper meaning. Initially I was drawn to the wall of clouds due to its aesthetic value. As the conversation with Roger drew on I began to find the deeper, metaphorical meaning behind the work. I then began to make connections with the work, by thinking about Christ in my own life and the analogies that Roger created. I found myself drawn to the metaphor of the world's brokenness and Christ purity bridging the gap. I then understood that Roger was creating a tangible explanation of Christ and what He does for us. In my opinion Roger's creations are unique and extremely creative. He is able to come up with profound concepts backed by deeper meaning. He creates pieces to invoke thoughts, but not necessarily only his own thoughts. He expresses theological ideas but makes the works so that all people can get something out of the work even if they are not religiously inclined.

Given the metaphors and analogies in Roger's work, do you think that many people grasp his true intended meaning behind the piece?

Back to Nature (with community arts)...

The Community Arts in Practice at Whitworth class has been enlisting the local Girl Scouts for their artistic skill and to share some facts about our state’s threatened wildlife.  The project began a month ago with each Whitworth student choosing an endangered animal to research.
Working on the Brown Pelican drawings
While the Grizzly and Gray Wolf were top picks, the research revealed that there are several species that need our protection.  The Whitworth students and Scouts worked in collaboration to design coloring book pages that describe the animals, their troubles, and things you can do to help. 
Painting the Woodland Caribou

The students and Scouts were faced with difficult drawing tasks: we can save the Chinook Salmon by conserving water use – but what does conserving water look like?  The forthcoming coloring book will show you!  The coloring book is meant to raise awareness, promote conservation, and protect our state’s unique and diverse wildlife. 
In tandem with the book, the students created a sculpture of their animal and the Scouts painted them.  An exhibition and coloring book sale (proceeds go to wildlife preservation) is forthcoming – we’ll post the date and location once it is confirmed.
Sample Coloring psge

Nice work!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photographers at the Chase

                Spokane Arts Commission presented four photographers at the Chase Gallery.  The opening was on November 5th from 5 to 8 p.m.  The Chase gallery is located in City Hall.  Artists include Zachary Mazur, Greg Siple, Ian Van Coller, and Jian Yang. The exhibition will be up until December 30.
                Zachary Mazur, Washington, focuses on the interactions between humans and the environment, according to the gallery statements. In this show all of his photographs were black and white.
                Montana based, Greg Siple, also presented in black and white.  His work is a collection of profiles and photos of bikers for Adventure Cycling Association, which he helped found, and is currently the art director for.
                Ian Van Coller is the only artist in the show that used colored images.  He grew up in South Africa which is influential to his work in portraiture.
                Jian Yang’s work is black and white. He is from China, and focuses on spaces and objects which are abandoned or left.
Artist sits and talks with guest
Art goers exchange a few words
                The piece on Adventure Cycling was very interesting.  There was an individual vibe, but yet personal sense that the viewer was invited in to learn about these individual people.  The presentation of these photographs and articles seemed critical to the success of the work.  Each was framed individually and separated with text that told of their stories.  These black and white photos were eclectic and creative.  Each piece consisted of different poses and objects in front of a plain backdrop which always included their bikes in the photo.  This series was dynamic in how there were common threads and themes, but yet different approaches and personalities.
                As a whole, the crowd filtered in and out as the space held a handful of viewers throughout the opening.  The set up of the show was a bit disconnected.  Three of the four artists had black and white photos, while one had color.  It maybe could have been set up in a different fashion aesthetically.  Three of the four artists framed or matted their work, and one did not.  This may have been intentional, but it was not really clear due to the manner in which the pieces were hung.  They were crooked in a somewhat messy way.  If it was intentionally done to add to the works aesthetics, it was not effective.  It did not appear as though it added to the photographs, rather it took away from the actually photographs.

How important is it to unify an entire art show, and does an un-unified art show affect the environment of the show for the viewers?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Reluctant Muse...at the Tinman

"Cupra Alta"
                On November 5th, the Tinman Gallery down on W. Sprague held an opening reception for featured artist, Gordon Wilson, and his show “The Reluctant Muse or How Do You Paint and Olive Tree.”  Wilson’s show consists of a numerous spread of paintings throughout the gallery.  The Tinman Gallery, which also operates as an independent bookstore, strives to enlighten the Spokane community through literature and art.
Woman appreciates Wilson's paintings
Musicians set the mood for Friday art walk at the Tinman
                Wilson currently serves as an art professor at Whitworth University, and was previously the head of the Whitworth Art Department.  Wilson is a painter who has developed a habit for “painting on site,” as he travels to Europe.  His paintings are mainly focused around, and emphasize, the landscape of the scene he is painting.  The process of each painting is strongly influenced by the natural world; the climate, smell, and conditions in which he is painting.
"Green Sky Storm from the Hotel Oassi"
                This show consists of a variety of landscape paintings throughout Italy, France, and Germany.  In each painting, there is either an olive tree, a figure of a lady, and/or buildings.  And, each painting is painted in the same abstract style, with the same palette of colors.  Each painting seems similar to the one next to it, but Wilson depends on the conditions in which he paints in to influence each painting, ultimately making each painting unique based on the influences.
                The one painting in the entire show which stuck out to me was “Green Sky Storm from the Hotel Oassi.”  It stuck out because the sky in this painting was completely deviant from the skies in any of the other paintings.  This piece had so much emotion that was not apparent to me in any of the other paintings, granted that this may have been the only day the weather was bad.  In the bottom third of the painting are the usual buildings seen throughout all the other paintings in the show, but in the top two-thirds of the painting is a very eerie sky over a hillside.  To me, the sky almost serves as an omen to the potential storm approaching.  The specific moment that Wilson decided to paint in this piece leaves room for the viewer to imagine the severity of the storm approaching; whether it was bad or not is not important.  This is what sets this particular painting apart from the rest.
Art goers enjoying the light atmosphere at the Tinman
                This show served as a great venue for viewing new works of art, as well as, getting people to come out and experience all that the Tinman has to offer.  The opening reception was welcoming with the sound of a small three person band, and allowed for people to interact with one another in friendly conversation.  The only thing that I struggled with at this show was that each piece was too similar, and I would have enjoyed a series of paintings that were much more unique to it.
What is your thoughts on “painting on-site?”  Does it really allow for the artist to interact with the landscape at a deeper level, or is it the same as painting from a picture?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chris Jordan at Whitworth University

I attended Chris Jordan’s presentation on Tuesday, October 12. Since I interviewed Chris before the presentation, I expected a longer version of what he talked about during the interview. His presentation contained many of the same eye-opening material that he mentioned in his interview, but he emphasized more on his projects than his biography. Chris Jordan began his talk by saying “There is nothing special about me.” This surprised me because I have seen his work and I do believe it is special. However, he insisted that he is not special, but just loves what he does, and it shows. It is obvious that Chris Jordan is very passionate about his work. His mission is to open the public’s eyes to different issues facing us as humans and our planet. First, Jordan spoke briefly about his upbringing and how he got to where he is today. Detachment was a key concept in his upbringing; whether it was detachment with the world around him or the detachment of him with himself. Then, he spoke about his project known as “Running the Numbers.” This lasted most of the presentation, for good reason. Lastly, Jordan spoke about his newest project known as the Midway Island project. He is planning on returning to Midway to take more pictures of the effects of the Pacific Gyre (an enormous gathering of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean). The Pacific Gyre is killing most of the albatross that live on Midway Island, and not too many people know about this. Jordan is trying to get people involved and let them know about this present tragedy. Furthermore, Jordan is planning on bringing students and a film crew with him in the spring. This way, he can show people the beauty and cuteness of the albatross that live on this island. (More can be learned at Midwayjourney.com)

Jordan’s most well-known work comes from his “Running the Numbers” project. This project is all about the idea of mass consumption and human tendencies. For example, one of Jordan’s pieces depicts 38,000 shipping containers, the number of containers processed through American ports every twelve hours. Many of the artwork in his “Running the Numbers” project is made in Photoshop. He takes a picture of certain objects in different positions, then he stitches those images together however many times he must in order to accurately show a certain statistic. This transcale imagery gives people a visual depiction to relate to the number statistics people hear. Jordan described his work as being able to put huge statistics in perspective in a way that people can understand.

As opposed to such artists like Robert Glenn Ketchum, Chris Jordan shows people the ugly side of what we are doing to the planet, and evokes change. Ketchum’s works show us the beauty of the world and makes one want to keep it that way. Both artists evoke change in community and society. However, they both choose different ways to evoke such change.

I was able to really connect with Jordan’s message about the tigers and how their depletion is increasing at an incredibly rapid rate. This piece shows what seems to be an orange frame with a black background. It depicts 3200 toy tigers, equal to the estimated number of tigers remaining on Earth. The space in the middle would hold 40,000 of these tigers, equal to the global tiger population in 1970. Personally, I would like to see this frame begin to refill. However, how could one person make such a significant difference?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harold Balazs at the Tinman

Harold Balazs is one of the most prominent local artists in the region. Originally from Ohio, Balazs has lived in the Spokane area since graduating from Washington State College in 1951. His works range from delicate jewelry pieces to large-scale sculpture and are currently being exhibited at the Tinman Gallery (located in the Garland district) the whole month of October. The gallery’s mission is to “expand the visual arts community in Spokane” through supporting artists and exposing their work to the community. The current variety displayed makes a stimulating exhibit for the community as well as honoring and supporting the creativity of Balazs.
Enamel, glass, wood, paint, and metal are just a few of the mediums used to create the many expressions of art Balazs has on display. The front room is lined with abstract art works in bold colors done in enamel. In the center is a glass table displaying a variety of jewelry. In the corner is a wooden sculpture painted completely black. Though each of these mediums is very different, they all incorporate rounded abstract shapes that seem to organically fit and flow. Balazs’ pieces seem to come from a place of innate ability and defiance. Both his life and his works say “Transcend the bullshit” and do whatever it is that makes you come alive.
I think honoring Balazs by displaying the range of his works must be very encouraging to him as well as mind opening for the community. His endless hunger to master new techniques is inspiring in itself. His integration into the Spokane community is undeniable. I was an admirer before I even knew who he was. One fateful night during my freshmen year at Whitworth, I went transcending. The “club” (as Balazs called it) prohibits me from explaining what this actually is, but I can tell you Harold Balazs knows of us daring transcenders and is honored by it. Balazs’ work is a part of our every day life, whether we drive by it on division or walk by it at the park or even transcend it. I strongly encourage anyone in the area to visit and understand who the man is behind so much of the art we see around town.