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Nicole Wapp puts her own spin on art at the Spokane fair

Nicole Wapp, 30, runs the Dabstract spin art booth Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at the Spokane County Inerstate Fair. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Nicole Wapp, 30, runs the Dabstract spin art booth Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 at the Spokane County Inerstate Fair. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

At Nicole Wapp’s booth at the Spokane County Interstate Fair, anyone can be a painter without picking up a brush.

Wapp, 30, runs the Dabstract spin art booth, a fixture of the county fair that her family has owned for 52 years. She stands under a pop-up tent, wearing a paint-splattered apron, surrounded by 20 blue wooden boxes that house whirring electric motors.

“I’m here from open to close, every single day of the fair,” she said.

Visitors purchase blank cardboard panels that come in two sizes, place them onto special mounts inside the boxes, squirt on some acrylic paint from plastic bottles, flip a switch and watch their paintings spin.

The resulting masterpieces look like fireworks, or nebulas, or dandelions, or celestial objects speeding past the cockpit of a rocket ship. Or some other radial image that pops into fairgoers’ imaginations.

The process, Wapp said, “creates memories that they can keep for a lifetime.”

The booth is owned by two of Wapp’s aunts, who bought it from their brother a number of years ago. Wapp said it’s only set up once a year, only at the county fair, although they have considered bringing it to other events.

She’s run the booth for the past four years and said the spin art experience appeals to people of all ages.

“Even the adults, they tell me stories about how they’ve done it since they were kids,” she said.

And for some families, it’s a tradition that spans several generations, she said.

“One family that comes by every year, they always use the same colors so they can take them home and make one big collage.”

Wapp said it isn’t easy running the booth 12 hours a day, 10 days in a row, but it’s nothing compared to her usual job as a jewelry seller and stay-at-home mom. She has five children – a 10-year-old daughter and two sets of twin boys, ages 5 and 7 – so refilling paint bottles can be a pleasant getaway.

“This is like a vacation,” she said.