The skywalk extending from the empty Ridpath Hotel across First Avenue to the equally empty Ridpath Motor Inn will show signs of life beginning Friday.
Argentine artist Agustina Mihura has painted the window panes in an attempt to play with light, said Ginger Ewing, organizer of Window Dressing, the Spokane project that brings large-scale arts installations to vacant storefronts.
“She’s really interested in working on color gradients and the reflection of light and how that changes throughout the day,” Ewing said. “So she’s painting the skywalk windows in a way that hopefully will change throughout the day depending on the light that shines through.”
Mihura’s project is the largest and most complex of the installations and required the artist to travel from her home in Buenos Aries. It is partially funded through Create Spokane, which received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for local arts projects.
The other windows, which are on West First Avenue, feature oversize digital prints by Lisa Nappa, a video projection installation from Jenny Hyde, a conceptual work involving an oversized whale from Mallory Ware, and light-reflecting three-dimensional mobiles from Roger Ralston, a professor at Eastern Washington University.
“They’re all in my opinion some of the most professional and wonderful artists that we have in town,” she said.
The works are all different, Ewing said, and she expects all of them to be experienced differently depending on the time of day they’re seen. She also says it will be worthwhile to visit at different times of the day.
For instance, “Jenny’s piece changes throughout the day, so it’s very likely that even if you go by it 50 times while it’s up, you’ll experience something different every time,” she said.
Window Dressing, which created two installations for Get Lit this past spring − one in the former Whiz Kids space in River Park Square, the other in the now-demolished T-Mobile store on West Main Avenue − maintains a rotating gallery in the former Music City building at 1011 W. First Ave. Those exhibits typically rotate out every three months, Ewing said. Expect the Motor Inn installations to stick around longer.
“Because we’re flying Agustina in, we’re going to keep those up for six months,” she said. “After that, we will refresh them.”
Ultimately, Window Dressing plans for a total of 15 window installations along that stretch of First Avenue: 10 on the Ridpath side of the street, four at the Motor Inn and one in the skywalk. The tangled ownership issues at the Ridpath, which can only be called messy, have delayed implementation of the project there.
“We’re hoping that no matter how the Ridpath side unfolds, that once whoever ends up owning it sees what we’re able to do in the Motor Inn space, then that will happen as well,” she said.
“The Ridpath is so beloved, and so troubled and is in need of some serious love, that if we can pull off this entire block thing, then that will put us on the map in a way that will make the pitch for other buildings around the downtown core a lot more easy,” she said.
Still, it’s not a part of downtown that’s super appealing to pedestrians. It’s, well, a bit sketchy. Ewing laughs at this.
“Window Dressing loves sketchy,” she said. “Absolutely part of the project is increasing visibility for artists, but it’s also about adding vibrancy to the most neglected and derelict buildings in downtown. The argument is that if you do that, crime will go down, vibrancy will go up, and then people will start to populate those sections of downtown again.”
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