It’s been said that artists are dreamers.
With enough imagination to fill the night’s sky – and pack the house at his first “official” First Friday art opening last week – Art, Music and More gallery owner Seth Everts is nurturing artists’ dreams into being, while his own aspirations continue to evolve by making art in every media more accessible to everyone.
More than 300 people attended last Friday’s artwalk reception inside the downtown Spokane gallery’s completely remodeled, sleek new space – complete with a music stage, professional stage lighting, film screen, coffee bar (opening soon) and artist’s studio.
The sky is the limit beneath the gallery’s soaring, 14-foot-high ceilings. After a year of renovations, a new artist hangout and gallery experience is being crafted for visual artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, performance artists and musicians.
“We’re really all about developing artists in a positive way,” said Everts, who started his business in a Spokane Valley Mall kiosk three years ago.
He soon moved to a small, mall storefront, and now has a deep, richly textured, inviting space on Second Avenue next door to an upcoming winery, around the corner from Interplayers Theater and down the street from Taste, a trendy new bistro.
“My goal when I started out was to work with independent artists – didn’t matter where they’re at, if they had a resume, were established or not, if they were just starting out or starting over. I really wanted to make it available to everybody and give everybody an opportunity,” said Everts.
“We’re getting a lot of emerging artists because we want to work with them. Emerging artists are open-minded and are wanting to learn from everybody else. It’s that whole synergy that happens.”
Everts’ concept is somewhat similar to an artists’ cooperative in that artists select, hang and rotate their own artwork without having to seek the gallery’s approval. They pay a small monthly fee for wall space and Web space, according to their needs, as well as a commission on sales.
Artists can rent the studio space below the gallery by the hour, week or month, and also are encouraged to make artwork inside the gallery to create an interactive art experience.
Anyone can come in, artist or not, and for $10 receive a canvas and try their hand at painting in an inspired environment, or rent the basement studio.
A percussionist and a painter, Everts encourages people to express themselves on more than one platform, and makes it easy for artists to segue into new media.
While First Friday receptions are free and dedicated to visual artists and DJs, third Fridays will highlight musicians, filmmakers, poets and authors, sometimes for a small cover.
Four acoustic singer/songwriters – Allen Stone, Brian Myers, Brandy Perry and Kevin Vance – will be featured on March 20 ($6 cover).
This month’s featured visual artist, Jeremy Stebbins, was filmed in the new gallery space as he worked on his mixed media paintings before last week’s opening. His artist profile was screened above his artwork, and the 20-year-old emerging artist sold two of his paintings during the reception.
A graphic arts student at Spokane Falls Community College and graduate of Medical Lake High School, Stebbins explores light and spirituality in his work.
“To excel into the light is the core philosophy of what I want to do with myself,” he said.
He describes his painterly landscape “Excel” as a visual interpretation of how light excels darkness. A road cuts diagonally through the lower half of the composition with a car driving into the light at the horizon. A cross is carved into the road.
“It’s a myriad of different themes that wind together and they all connect back to the cross,” Stebbins said.
He also creates works that portray his passion for skateboarding. One of his paintings that was sold last Friday, “Keep It Real,” depicts a skateboard grinding a rail.
At age 12, Stebbins’ back was broken in a car accident, ending his ambition to be a pro skateboarder. His painting titled “Mend” has pieces of canvas roughly stitched back together.
“This was a very humbling experience for me,” he said. “I want to use it like my art, to excel. There’s more than broken concrete. There’s smooth concrete everywhere.”
He aspires to “paint a picture of hope, even in a world that’s broken.”
Another artist whose work is already selling is photographer Hanne Zak.
She was in Las Vegas over the weekend for the West Coast Conference basketball tournament, shooting the Gonzaga Bulldogs as the photographer and photo editor for GU’s school newspaper, The Bulletin. She’ll follow the team into the NCAA tournament.
“I’ve latched onto the basketball team. It’s a unique opportunity as a student to be able to network and talk to the people who are doing this for a living here,” she said, enjoying the high-profile assignment.
Her true passion, however, is travel photography. Having visited all seven continents, she has a portfolio that’s already varied and extensive.
An untitled work printed on canvas captures a man praying at the Western Wall in Israel on a trip she took in January.
Zak said it was difficult to shoot because of the distance, which was the closest she was allowed to get to the men’s area of the wall, and because of the crowds who came between her lens and the site.
Yet the photo captures the subtle shadows and textures of the rocks, along with the multitudes of prayers, written on paper and tucked inside the cracks.
Lynn Hanley, an artist who has been creating artwork for more than 30 years and has exhibited on both the East and West Coasts, is exhibiting oils on canvas and mixed media, with plans to bring in her sculptural work – semi-abstract bronze and clay figurative pieces.
“It’s exciting in the way Seth is working (the gallery), combining all the media, and creating a center for the creative community,” said Hanley. “This is a very interesting approach and a fully creative idea.
“This is a very big, bold step.”