Through a vintage lens: Artist’s screen prints highlight iconic Spokane sights
Artistically, the essence of Spokane is often conveyed through iconic images like the Clocktower, Pavilion, Looff Carrousel or running statues in Riverfront Park.
But for longtime resident Chris Bovey, 34, there are more landmarks that spark nostalgia for Spokane’s spirit.
On Friday, as part of the Visual Arts Tour, the Blue Door Theater is opening The Bovey Showvey to display the artist’s limited edition screen-printed posters of Spokane landmarks.
Bovey’s work, which features Dick’s Hamburgers, the White Elephant, Finch Arboretum and Mount Spokane, is a vintage look at everyday landmarks.
“I’ve grown up here in Spokane and I go by these things every single day. I have a feeling they get tossed to the wayside,” Bovey said. “The Tradewinds motel – it’s kind of an eyesore, but in its heyday it was a legend. It was glorious. I hope these posters will spark nostalgia and make people want to relook at their city in a different light.”
Bovey, the Inlander’s art director, said he started with an idea for a set of retro postcards and posters, which he pitched to a tourism group. “They didn’t have any interest in it, but I took it to Atticus and they were super stoked about it,” he said.
At first, Bovey took pictures of places he passed daily. He sees Mount Spokane on his way to work, for example.
After stripping the color digitally, he printed transparencies, exposing the image on a screen-printing machine. Then he hand-stenciled each poster with ink.
“You expose the screen to light, and everywhere that doesn’t get touched with light washes out. It becomes a stencil after that,” he explained of the process. “You drag ink across paper, and it leaves an impression of what you had there.”
“It’s amazing when you lay the last color down on your poster and the poster sheens,” he continued. “It’s glorious and it makes it all worth it.”
Bovey said four-color posters take about a week to make, which he does for the tactile artistic experience, estimating he spends about 10 to 15 hours weekly on the posters after he puts his boys to bed.
In the year since he began, Bovey has created about 13 different posters in runs of 15 to 35 per poster that are sold at Atticus Coffee and Gifts for $20 each.
Most of the posters on display at the Blue Door Theater have already sold out, but Bovey said he’ll continue to make and sell new pieces at Atticus. He’s also unveiling his latest landmark poster tonight, featuring a Garland district location.
“Every time I see a completed poster it sparks nostalgia. It takes me back to a point where it made an impact in my life,” said Bovey, adding that he’s open to suggestions of Spokane landmarks for future posters, which he hopes spark a similar feeling for the community.
“If people suggest more, I’m going to keep going,” he said. “It’s fun seeing Spokane come alive again. … They’re places that have a personal meaning to me but a collective meaning to the area as well.”