As a traveling artist, Spokane painter Melissa Cole is used to a little inclement weather.
“I was in Issaquah at a show once and practically had a river running through my tent,” said Cole, who specializes in colorful paintings mostly of salmon, trout, koi and various marine animals.
Cole half expected to find the same river in her tent Friday as buckets of rain poured down over Spokane, drenching Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition, where Cole and more than 120 artists are camped out for ArtFest.
The annual art show and weekend of live music, hands-on demonstrations and fun, sponsored by the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, continues through Sunday.
“You can’t control the weather, so you just do what you do,” said Dennis Brady, an artist from Sandpoint who creates math-inspired images known as “fractal art.”
“The weather is something I can’t control. If I can’t control it, I don’t worry too much about it,” Brady said.
While Brady and Cole don’t let the weather stop them from sharing their masterpieces, the ominous black clouds moving east toward North Idaho were affecting the crowds Friday night.
“It’s keeping people away, there’s no doubt,” said photographer Ned Fox. The opening night of Art Fest usually brings a fairly decent crowd, but not this year, artists said.
ArtFest volunteers were handing out emergency ponchos. By 7 p.m., the sun was starting to show on the horizon and more people were drifting into the park.
“Saturday is supposed to be really nice,” said volunteer Hannah Robinson.
According to the National Weather Service, today may be the best day to get your ArtFest on. Mostly sunny skies are expected with a high near 67 degrees. A 60 percent chance of rain is forecast for Sunday after 11 a.m., with more than quarter of an inch of precipitation expected in the Spokane. Rain is forecast through Sunday night.
A flood watch has been issued for several Inland Northwest counties including Benewah, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis Nez Perce, and Shoshone counties in North Idaho, and Asotin, Garfield, and Whitman counties in Eastern Washington.
Not that flood watches will stop everyone. For many families, ArtFest is a yearly tradition, regardless of weather.
“We try to come every year,” said Consuelo Thoren, of Mead, who was armed with umbrellas for her family Friday evening. She was joined by her husband, Justin, and daughters Iris, 10, Lily, 7, and Daisy, 6, who was sporting a plastic poncho courtesy of the museum.
“We were looking out the window earlier today when it was really coming down,” Thoren said. “And I thought, ‘I don’t care.’ We really like coming.”
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