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Creative, collaborative opportunities drive Unifest

Matt Bogue knows there’s power in numbers.

Born and raised in Spokane, Bogue remembers the “dark ages” of the city’s art scene.

A musician and graphic designer, Bogue already had experience facilitating live art shows and integrating art and music into community events when he and wife Stephanie launched the arts collective Unifest Co. in 2016.

“I feel like as much as people can put efforts into that, the better we’ll be in Spokane,” he said. “There’s always a need for efforts to feed into that.”

Over the years, the collective has worked with Terrain, Bazaar, Art Fest, Elk Fest, Bloomsday and many other local events.

But before assisting with those events, Unifest Co. introduced itself to the community with the first Unifest in 2016, using the event to highlight its ability to incorporate art and music into community events via creative, collaborative efforts.

Two years later, Unifest Co. has continued to push boundaries and find new ways to bring live art and music to the masses.

“We have a lot of talented musicians and artists so we really wanted to throw a big party and shine a spotlight on everybody we’ve met,” Bogue said. “There’s a bunch of different annual events, but you can never get too much.”

This year’s Unifest, Saturday in the Kendall Yards Business District, kicks off at 3 p.m. with lawn games (corn hole, giant Tetris, Connect Four), food trucks (Copper Arrow Coffee, Crack of Dawn, Mac Daddy’s, Dlish and kettle corn) and a photo booth in the all-ages side of the event, music from Twin Towers and happy hour in the beer gardens.

In previous years, artists participated in a live draw-off, but this year, Bogue and the Unifest Co. team built 4-foot-tall pyramids for artists Tiffany Patterson, Derrick Freeland and Jessie Hynes to draw on throughout the day.

“We wanted to make it more fun and a little less stressful for them,” Bogue said. “Instead of setting it up right by the stage, we can integrate it throughout the whole event.”

Unifest will feature live music from Blake Braley, Twin Towers, Simmentall, Nat Park and the Tunnels of Love and Bogue’s band Laminates on the main stage.

The Geodesic Dome, a Unifest staple – and perhaps the most recognizable element of the event – will feature DJ sets from DJ Locke and DJ Donuts, plus a performance from Digisaurus, an electro pop/rock artist who was scheduled to perform at the Observatory before it closed briefly.

The dome will also feature performances from Simmentall’s Tobias Hendrickson and wife Chelsea as Technological Taxidermy and Picaresque, a belly dance/world fusion dance troupe.

The Bogues got the idea to incorporate an element like the dome into Unifest after seeing art installations at the music festivals and arts events they attended.

The massive dome came from Bogue’s friends in Portland and takes four to five hours to build. Once it’s been constructed, Bogue and a friend he calls the “dome monkey” climb on top to put a giant canopy in place.

“It’s visually appealing and on the inside you can do a lot of things with projection mapping and fun lights,” he said.

If fun lights is what it takes to get more people interested in the art and music available in Spokane, fun lights is what the Bogues will offer.

It’s all part of their mission to provide artists and musicians with as many opportunities as possible, which in turn will better the community as a whole.

“You’re never going to grow as a community if you do your own thing and take it solo,” Bogue said. “Not a lot of artists reach out for that collaboration. They wait for it to be presented to them so I feel like the more people that are seeking that out, the bigger and better the art scene will be.”


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