Spokane and Spokane Valley have something to boast about; a stunning river that flows through like a vein, its banks ripe with history where men and women settled to benefit from the flowing abundance.
Now a metropolis, the area often forgets the river; its sound lost to traffic. Still, it flows with the help of three major tributaries: Chamokane Creek, Hangman Creek and the Little Spokane River.
Next Saturday, two dozen artists will display their creations during the Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour. “The river feeds us,” said artist Jill Smith, “It’s inspiring to be on or nearby a river bank.”
The participating artists will display their wares at five locations within minutes of each other and the river. Two of the sites are actually next door to each other in parklike settings where a creek runs through the properties of Smith and Gina Freuen. There, greeters will guide visitors to designated areas including the artists’ studios.
Both Smith and Freuen are ceramic artists and their studios will allow visitors to be privy to their processes; Smith’s raku work and Freuen’s curious porcelain and stoneware vessels. Freuen will be sharing her outdoor setting with jewelry artist Cheryl DeGroot, photographer Doug Edmonson whose realistic photos form abstract concepts, glass artists Katie Patten and Leonard Tinnell, painter Jessie Rasche, and Will Richards who creates organic-looking lamps from the shades to the ceramic bases.
Smith will host the works of three other ceramic artists as well as the work of AnnMarie Lewis (Tacky Cowgirl) who handcrafts handbags and aprons.
The three other studios on the tour will be hosted by nationally known garment designer Hulda Bridgeman, painter Victoria Brace whose specialty is portraits, and Patti Osebold, who makes Japanese sculptural figures out of clay, and dressed in hand-made decorative paper.
A spring that flows off the aquifer to the Little Spokane River runs through Bridgeman’s property, where visitors will be guided by ribbons and life-sized stuffed dolls that point the way to artists Sheila Evans, Neicy Frey and Katherine Nelson.
Brace will open her front door to reveal the works of papier-mâché artist Rhea Giffin, painter and mixed-media sculptor Dara Harvey, painter Gordon Wilson, and jewelry maker Kris Howell. Osebold will welcome visitors into her home where jewelry artists John Blessent and Deb Ellis, and painter Pauline Haas will be exhibiting their work.
Light refreshments will be served at each site but a food stand will be set up near Smith and Freuen’s with parts of the proceeds going to the Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley whose mission is to preserve and sustain the area.
As Smith stood on the bridge that crosses the creek on her property, she motioned toward the banks and said, “This valley is rich in history and culture. No doubt, Native Americans sat right here on the banks and made art or tools. We’re just carrying on what they did.”