ArtFest starts Friday for three-day run

Spokane’s outdoor feast for eyes, ears and taste buds opens its annual three-day run on Friday in historic Browne’s Addition.

ArtFest, now in its 23rd year, will encompass more than 100 artists and their wares, musicians and a food, wine and beer garden in Spokane’s Coeur d’Alene Park, at the corner of Third Avenue and Chestnut Street.

“ArtFest is always such a fun event, there’s a certain amount of magic about it,” said Jill Strom, public relations coordinator for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The MAC is the sole event sponsor now that its previous partner, the Spokane Art School, has closed.

Various artists will demonstrate their skills, and there are several hands-on activities just for kids.

Handcrafted jewelry, sculpture, pottery, photographs, furniture, paintings and blown glass by many of the region’s most respected artists are just some of the creations that will be available.

“This isn’t resale stuff,” Strom said. “These are original pieces of art. I think that’s what makes this very special.”

Frequent ArtFest exhibitor and photographer John Clement is bringing hundreds of his sweeping Western landscapes.

Subtle and painterly, the photographs capture ephemeral scenes at such spots as the Palouse Prairie, Yakima Valley, Columbia River Gorge and Rattlesnake Mountain, near his Tri-Cities home and studio.

Clement said buyers often tell him the images “trigger memories” of special moods and places where they grew up and to which they’re deeply attached.

Potter Brad Henry of Bend, Ore., will be making his first ArtFest appearance.

His youthful take on ceramics drew HGTV cameras to his studio a couple of years back.

Oval serving platters, whimsical mugs with thumb rests, vases of all sizes and bowls – in either Asian or contemporary styles – are just a few of his signature pieces. They’re designed for daily use and tolerate freezers and microwaves, he said.

Embellished in colors and shapes seen in nature, Henry’s work possesses a fine art flair and hopefully elicits pleasant emotions in buyers, he said.

Harpist Philip Boulding of Olalla, Wash., an ArtFest favorite, will be selling three sizes of the handmade Celtic harps he creates in his Magical Strings studio.

And he’s expected to mesmerize audiences Sunday morning, performing traditional and contemporary harp music from Ireland, Scotland and Madagascar.

“There’s something archetypal about the harp – it’s part of the human psyche and it just draws people in,” said Boulding, who also travels the country giving concerts and teaching others to play.

He makes it a point to attend ArtFest.

“I love talking to people. And it’s a charming park, with lovely old trees and an old elegance about it. The ambience is very nice,” Boulding said.

Musicians will rotate in and out throughout the celebration, raising spirits with the sounds of everything from country to rock, klezmer to harp, bluegrass to jazz.

Concert headliners Too Slim and the Taildraggers – self-proclaimed purveyors of “Swampy Americana” – will be joined by the Underworld Orchestra’s “blazing, five-piece horn section” on Saturday night.

“I think that’s going to be a really big draw,” Strom said.


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