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Mobley won’t lead revamped arts agency

The woman who led the city’s arts department for 15 years before it was dismantled last year won’t be the permanent leader of the new agency promoting the arts in Spokane.

Karen Mobley said Thursday that she decided to step down as the interim director of the Spokane Arts Fund on March 31. The fund was revamped last year after Mayor David Condon followed through on former Mayor Mary Verner’s proposal to remove the arts department from city government.

Until late last year, the Spokane Arts Fund was the small nonprofit arm of the city’s Arts Commission. The fund now performs the functions of the city’s former department and has a $160,000 budget provided by the city and several agencies and businesses. The fund’s headquarters are located within the offices of Visit Spokane, the organization formerly known the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

A Nobel Prize winner, speaking at Gonzaga

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Muta Maathai of Kenya, founder of the Green Belt Movement, author and advocate for African democracy, will be the speaker at Gonzaga University’s Presidential Speaker Series event on Oct. 6, 6 p.m., at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Her presentation will include a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Taking Root,” which chronicles her work in pan-African forest conservation.

Tickets are $10 for the public, $7 for seniors and $5 for students and employees of any educational institution. Tickets can be purchased at www.gonzaga.edu/wangari or through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT or www.ticketswest.com).

By the way, this means that Gonzaga University this school year will be hosting a Nobel Peace Prize winner and two Pulitzer Prize winners (both for fiction).  We previously noted that Jennifer Egan, author of 2011 Pulitzer winner “A Visit from the Goon Squad” will speak on Jan. 31 and Junot Diaz, 2008 Pulitzer winner for “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” will speak on Feb. 22 as part of Gonzaga University’s Visiting Writers Series. Those two events will be free.

ArtFest will stay put next year

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture's  annual ArtFest event will stay put in Browne’s Addition in 2012.

Museum officials had pondered moving the art, food and music festival from Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition to the larger Riverfront Park downtown.

The Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council viewed the prospect with alarm and called a meeting Wednesday night to voice concerns.

Forrest Rodgers, the MAC’s new executive director, talked to neighborhood representatives and said Thursday that ArtFest will remain at Coeur d’Alene Park next year.

‘Leonardo’ hits its mark

The final numbers are in for “Leonardo da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius.”

About 38,000 people attended this summer-long traveling exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

It came close to the museum’s attendance goals and more than met its financial goals, according to the people at the MAC.

The final week – the week before Labor Day – was particularly strong, attracting 6,500 people.

“There were lines out the front door and even out in the street,” said museum spokeswoman Rebecca Bishop.

The MAC would have liked to have broken the 40,000-visitor mark set by the “T. rex Named Sue” exhibit in 2007. However, the T. rex exhibit charged regular museum admission while the da Vinci exhibit had special (higher) pricing.

“Leonardo” was also a hit with schools. A total of 3,400 people visited as part of school groups.

The MAC also signed up 500 new members over the exhibit’s span.

The Sculpture Walk, extended

Spokane’s official Sculpture Walk has been extended, by City Council resolution, westward from the Monroe Street Bridge to the Sandifur Bridge on the Centennial Trail, along the new Kendall Yards development.

Over the next 20 to 30 years, the City of Spokane Arts Commission intends to add a number of “major works of art” along this new extension.

You didn’t know we already had a Sculpture Walk? We do, and quite an extensive one at that.

 The existing Sculpture Walk, designated in 1988, already has 22 sculptures. It extends from the Washington State University branch campus at Riverpoint, through Riverfront Park to the Monroe Street Bridge, encompassing such familiar Spokane art landmarks as the Big Red Wagon, the trash-eating goat and the steel Bloomsday runners.

Those are just the most visible highlights. The Sculpture Walk includes many other statues, installations and fountains from artists including George Tsutakawa, Harold Balazs, Ken Spieringand David Govedare.

Check out the Sculpture Walk under “Public Art” on the arts commission’s website, www.spokanearts.org.

Lampanelli on-sale postponed

Today's on-sale date for Lisa Lampanelli tickets has been postponed.

But the show itself is still on schedule: Oct. 22 at the INB Performing Arts Center. Watch for further announcements.

‘Queen of Mean’ on the way to town

Lisa Lampanelli, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Mean,” has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center for a show on Oct. 22, 7 p.m.

She's gained fame for her insult comedy on various celebrity roasts.Tickets will be $37.75, on sale Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. through Ticketswest outlets.

Symphony’s ‘Best of Spokane’ fest

The Spokane Symphony will play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi’s“Summer” from “Four Seasons” for some of Spokane’s “best” causes on Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

We say “best” because the symphony is billing this as its first-ever “Best of Spokane Concert.” It will be both a tribute and a fundraiser for these Spokane institutions: Bloomsday, First Night, Hoopfest, the Lilac Festival, Musicfest Northwest, Spokane International Film Festival and Unity in the Community.

Tickets are $20, through the symphony ticket office (509-624-1200) or TicketsWest outlets.

Now, about that “Best of” idea: Those organizations will not only be honored at the concert, but they will also get a cut of the proceeds. Concertgoers are encouraged to wear T-shirts and hats representing any of those organizations.

Eckart Preu will conduct, and the concert will also include a patriotic sing-along. This event replaces the BestFest, which the symphony has held the last two summers.

For the second part of the Best of Spokane celebration, click on “continue reading” below.

Symphony celebrates ‘Best of Spokane’

The Spokane Symphony will play Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi's “Summer” from “Four Seasons” for some of Spokanes “best” causes on Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

We say “best” because the symphony is billing this as its first-ever “Best of Spokane Concert,” and it is both a tribute and a fundraiser for these Spokane institutions: Bloomsday, First Night, Hoopfest, the Lilac Festival, MusicFest Northwest, Spokane International Film Festival, and Unity in the Community.

Here's the lowdown on the concert itself: It will cost $20, now on sale at (509) 624-1200 or TicketsWest outlets.

Now, about that “Best of” idea. Those organizations will not only be honored at the concert, but they will get a cut of the proceeds. Concertgoers are encouraged to wear t-shirts and hats representing any of those organizations.

Eckart Preu will conduct, and the concert will also include a patriotic sing-along. This event replaces the BestFest, which the symphony has held the last two summers.

The second part of the symphony’s “Best of Spokane” event – officially titled  “Say Wow! Celebrating the Best of Spokane” – will consist of the Community Open House and Showcase on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

It will be a lot like the open house the symphony hosted when The Fox re-opened in November 2007. This event is free, and includes performances by local groups, tours of the theater and hands-on children’s activities.

Here’s the performance schedule:

9 a.m.: Blessing and Drum Circle.

10:30 a.m.: Floating Crowbar, traditional Irish music.

Noon: Master Class Jazz Orchestra, Big Band Swing.

1:30 p.m.: Spokane Civic Theatre’s Musical Showcase, previewing its season.

3 p.m.: Big Red Barn – Rhythm and bluegrass.

Please note that this free day on Aug, 20 does not include a performance by the Spokane Symphony. The symphony is sponsoring it, but not performing. The symphony's appearance is only at the Aug. 18 event.

Kristofferson, Haggard together in Spokane

We just got word of a new concert, with tickets going on sale Friday:

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON & MERLE HAGGARD
Sun, September 25th, 2011 7:30 PM

INB Performing Arts Center
334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99201 (509 279-7000)

All Ages. Tickets Range From: $35, $45, $55, $65 in advance,
all seats are $5.00 higher day of show!

Tickets on sale July 29, but you can get access to a pre-sale by clicking on www.ticketswest.com

  

A Kathy Griffin date switch

Comedian Kathy Griffin's appearance at the INB Performing Arts Center has been switched from Aug. 20 to Aug. 28. All tickets dated Aug. 20 will be honored on the later date.

No word on the reason for the switch, except she now has no tour dates between July 23 and Aug. 26.

Go to TicketsWest for tickets details.

MAC gets new executive director

Forrest B. Rodgers has been appointed the new executive director of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

Rodgers was most recently the director of the Central Washington University Foundation in Ellensburg.

From 2001 to 2007, he was the president and CEO of the privately funded High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., which reversed a decline in paid attendance.

He will take over on Aug. 1 from Ron Rector, who is retiring.

It is, of course, too early to tell what Rodgers will mean to the MAC. Yet I can say that the MAC could do worse than emulate the High Desert Museum, one of the Northwest's best and most entertaining regional museums.

She’s playing Bill Clinton’s mama

Spokane opera singer Jessica Bowers is receiving national attention for her role in a New York folk opera titled, “Billy Blythe,” which is about, of all things, the adolescence of Bill Clinton.

Bowers plays Clinton’s mother, Virginia.

This Metropolis Opera Project production is based on Clinton’s 2004 memoir, “My Life” and had a two-day developmental reading in June at the Medicine Show Theatre in New York.

Bowers was featured prominently in a July 4 article in the New Yorker magazine about the show’s rehearsals. In the story, the composer mentioned that Clinton seemed to be attracted to women who reminded him of his mother.

“It’s funny you would say that,” the New Yorker quoted Bowers as saying. “Someone once told me I look like Monica Lewinsky.”

Here's a link to the New Yorker piece.

Bowers is a Spokane native and graduate of Whitworth University and the New England Conservatory. She has appeared with the Spokane Opera.

She is continuing Spokane’s surprising record of supplying New York with opera singers — Patrice Munsel and Thomas Hampson, to name the two most prominent.

A Leonardo learning experience

Line I overheard on the bus last week: “That Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the MAC isn't even real! They want us to pay to see a bunch of fake stuff!”

OK, where should I begin?

First, get real. Did you truly expect the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) to have an original da Vinci painting? There are only about 16 da Vinci paintings in existence and unless your museum has the word “Louvre” in it's name, your chances of getting one is just about nil.

Second, most of the exhibit consists of large, wooden models of mechanical devices made from drawings in da Vinci's notebooks. You can call those “fakes,” I suppose, except there there is no such thing as an “original” of these devices. Da Vinci never made any.

Third, “fake” or not, you'll learn a heck of a lot about da Vinci, one of the most remarkable minds of all time. And isn't that the point?

Fourth, decades ago, I once saw the “Mona Lisa” on loan to the National Gallery in Washington D.C. Yeah, it was the real thing, all right, but the crowds were so enormous (500,000 in 27 days)  and the security was so tight I got about a one-second glimpse of it. We were whisked past it on moving walkway. The one I saw at the MAC was a fake — a digital reproduction — but I sure got a better look at the old girl.

Half-price deal for Spokane Symphony

The Spokane Symphony announced a surprise subscription deal: Half-price subscriptions for new subscribers.

Or even former subscribers, as long as they were not subscribers for the 2010-11 season.

This offer, which expires on Labor Day, means that new subscribers can get the entire 10-concert Classics season for $110 to $160 per seat.

Yeah, that's a ridiculous bargain.

It also works for the SuperPops and Casual Classics series. Here's the info from the symphony's own release:

The introductory price for the 10-concert Classics season package now range from $110 to $160. Classics concert are performed on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.  The introductory price for the six-concert SuperPops package now range from $148.50 to $99. SuperPops concerts are on Saturday night.  The three-concert Casual Classics package ranges from $27 to $42. Casual Classics concerts are performed on Friday night.

Why is the symphony doing this? “To reach new season ticket holders and bring past past season ticket holders,” said the press release.

 

To get this deal call the symphony box office at (509) 624-1200. For more details on the season, go to the symphony website.

 

Free music, courtesy of Spokane Public Library

Beginning soon, the Spokane Public Library will offer you a legal way to download music for free.

It's called Freegal, and in mid-July the library will be offering the entire Sony music catalog, which includes a half-million tracks, including songs by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Adele, Britney Spears, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bartok and Beethoven, along with thousands of others.

Library card holders can download three songs a week for free. And, unlike the old-fashioned method of checking out albums from the library, you never have to return them. They are yours to keep.

The library pays for the Freegal service, but it's a good deal for the library, since it's a lot more cost effective than shelving and maintaining that many CDS (and trying to keep them from getting stolen).

Go to the Spokane Public Library website to access this service. The library has not been any more specific than “mid-July” for the launch, which means we can start looking for it in the next two weeks, at least.

Here’s John Travolta, with CdA’s Munchkins

John Travolta talks to all of the Munchkins in the cast of “Wizard of Oz” during intermission, in this photo sent in by Laura Little of the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.

Travolta was in town to attend “The Wizard of Oz” because two of his sisters, Ellen and Margaret, played the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch, respectively.

He apparently gave the children an inspiring talk about following their dreams.

“A special day indeed for the 27 local children,” noted Little.

The Civic brings home two national awards

The Spokane Civic Theatre brought home two awards from last weekend's AACT/FEST 2011 national community theater awards in Rochester, NY:

  • Lacey Bohnet won Best Supporting Actress.
  • Nancy Vancil won Best Musical Accompaniment

The Civic's entry, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” also earned three nominations:

  • David Baker, nominee for Best Lighting Design
  • Mark Pleasant, nominee for Best Actor
  • The cast, nominated for Best Ensemble

By the way, the overall winner at this competition  was “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” — Ohlook Performing Arts Center, Grapevine, TX
  

A true Jewell (Eilen) at Arbor Crest

Eilen Jewell has been booked into Arbor Crest Wine Cellars for an outdoor show on Aug. 4.

A few of my more music-savvy friends are pumped about this announcement. This singer-songwriter (the first name is pronounced EE-len) has a great voice and has some haunting, memorable songs. Don't take my word for it. Check out this video of a radio-station performance.

Tickets are only $10 and go on sale July 1 at Arbor Crest tasting rooms and TicketsWest outlets.

She's originally from Idaho, born in Boise and apparently has some Panhandle connections. The name of her second album is “Boundary County”  — which has a certain Bonners Ferry ring to it.

But she's definitely a national act. She'll be featured on NPR on Tuesday. She burst onto the folk scene in Boston and has developed a wide following.

Get yer $30 KISS tickets

The Spokane Arena has just announced a special deal for tomorrow: $30 KISS tickets, Thursday only.

Here's the full announcement:

WHAT:                $30 Tickets To See KISS In Concert!

WHERE:             Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena

WHEN:                Thursday, June 23 – 12:01AM-11:59PM

 

EVENT:               KISS with Bad City
Friday, June 24 – 7:45PM

 

CALLING ALL KISS FANS!

 

KISS is raising the stakes and challenging Spokane to sell out their show this Friday night!  Hoopfest weekend is here and KISS wants to make sure we kick off the weekend right at the Spokane Arena. Every seat needs a butt…but there aren’t that many tickets left!

 

Every last available ticket in the house is ONLY $30.00 this Thursday ONLY – it doesn’t get any hotter than that.  $30.00 tickets will ONLY be available for purchase on Thursday, June 23 and will ONLY be available online at TicketsWest.com.  Make sure not to miss out on this incredible show and at even more incredible price.

 

KISS is challenging us; now let’s show them why Detroit Rock City has nothing on the Lilac City.

 

KISS will perform at the Spokane Arena on Friday, June 24 with special guest Bad City. On Thursday, June 23 all reserved seat tickets are $30.00 and will only be available for purchase on TicketsWest.com.

Ben Mitchell’s art legacy at the MAC

I wrote an update for Wednesday's paper about the MAC's layoffs, which you can read here.

I would like to expand on Ben Mitchell's legacy as art curator at the MAC. I do not consider myself an authority on visual art, but I am nevertheless convinced that Mitchell did an outstanding job of honoring our region's cultural life. He is responsible for giving Harold Balazs the serious, comprehensive retrospective he so richly deserved. He worked hard on this for years, because — well, because our important artists must be given their due. 

He did the same for another local artist, Ruben Trejo, who was less well-known, but incredibly influential not just in the region but in the country.

And most recently, he introduced many of us to a Colfax artist, Timothy Ely, who was legendary among the cognoscenti, but had been relatively under-the-radar here.

And when Mitchell did exhibits like these, he went all the way. In the case of Balazs and Trejo, he even helped produce handsome coffee-table-sized art books which will enable their influence to continue to spread.

I do not blame the MAC for making the decision to lay him off. The MAC is stuck in an impossible financial position. The MAC was forced to make a decision it would never have made except under severe budget duress.

Yet I suspect that someday, and soon, we will look back on Mitchell's tenure as a remarkable age of art at the MAC, in which local artists got the shows, and the scholarly, intellectual respect, that they had earned.

They Might Be Giants, on the way

They Might Be Giants, the band beloved of alt-rock fans with a sense of humor, have just been booked into the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane for a Nov. 6 show.

Tickets will be $22, on sale June 24, 10 a.m. through www.ticketfly.com

MAC lays off senior curator of art

Ben Mitchell, the senior curator of art at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), was laid off this week.

The museum had to make a five percent budget cut, after it barely escaped closure when the state budget was finalized.

One other position, was also cut, in the collections department, but I could not get confirmation of a name.

With staffing already cut to the bone — the museum's staffing was already down 40 percent over the last two years — finding any positions to cut was agonizing, according to Rebecca Bishop, the museum's marketing and communications director.

It came down to the fact that the museum felt it had “backup” in the area of art —  other staffers who can step in to do art exhibits. But don't expect to see as many art exhibits in the future.

Will the MAC be able to do exhibits of the caliber and scope of the Timothy Ely exhibit, the Ruben Trejo exhibit and the Harold Balazs exhibit, just to name three examples of Mitchell's exceptional work?

I'd say it's doubtful. Right now, we don't even know if the museum will even have the position of art curator.

I'll try to find more information next week. If anybody has any insight, please weigh in.

Comedian Kathy Griffin booked into INB

Comedian and celebrity gadfly Kathy Griffin has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., on Aug. 20.

Tickets in advance will be $75, $50 and $35, on sale June 24, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets.

Judy Collins, on the way to the Bing

Judy Collins, owner of one of my all-time favorite voices, has just been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater on Nov. 10.

Tickets are $37, available through TicketsWest outlets on Friday.

April Smith & Great Picture Show at the Bing

Retro-pop swinger April Smith & The Great Picture Show are making a return trip to Spokane for a show  Oct. 7 at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Smith and the band attracted a big crowd when they were here in November. The music is jazzy, old-timey and ragtime-y  — and how many bands can say that? Tickets go on sale Friday at TicketsWest.com.

A ‘70s and ‘80s Gatsby’s rock reunion

A bunch of bands that rocked Gatsby's nightclub in the 1970s and 1980s are reuniting for two benefit shows this weekend.

The bands will be ValHalla, RumbleBoy, Innersanctum, Flash, Wiser Sin, Lorpan, The Edge and Black Rose. If those names sound familiar, you probably frequented the local music scene 30 years ago.

 They'll play Gatsby's Reunion, Saturday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Players & Spectators, 12828 E. Sprague (cover $10) and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Bigfoot Pub and Eatery, 9115 N. Division (no cover, donations accepted).

It's all to raise money for former Gatsby's owner Larry Spratt, who now owns the Bigfoot. Spratt was severely injured in a recent accident.

Curran Dempsey of Black Rose said the musicians are converging from all over the U.S. and Canada. He said they're all excited to get back on stage for a good cause, even if “we won't be wearing the Spandex and leather like we used to.”

To see a video promo for the event, click here and here.

Spokane’s Jerad Finck scores, musically, in NBA finals

Jerad Finck of Spokane scored in the NBA finals.

His song “Runaway” was the song played as the musical theme in ESPN's video about Dirk Nowitzki's journey to the NBA title.

Here's a link to the video: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6653799.

It aired during the sixth game of the finals.

This is exceptionally good national exposure for Finck, a singer-songwriter who has had considerable success over the past few years.

A sneak preview of Northern Quest’s outdoor venue

I took this photo Saturday night at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's tuneup concert for its new outdoor venue, this one featuring local acts Soul Proprietor and the Ryan Larsen Band.

As you can see, it's a flat expanse of lawn between the parking garage and the hotel. Folding chairs are set up and numbered (seating is reserved). There are booths and tents selling food, drink and merchandise.

The acoustics? OK, although we were distracted by the Monster Trucks roaring at the speedway next door.

As you can see, the crowd was not huge for this test-run concert. The first big test will come June 25 with the Judds, followed by the Steve Miller Band on July 14, Willie Nelson on July 31, the Beach Boys on Aug. 6, Toby Keith on Aug. 18 and Santana on Aug. 26,

Guy Clark, certified legend, booked into Bing

It's hard to convey how much respect Guy Clark has in the world of folk, country, alt-country and Americana.

He has been a major influence on artists like Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith.  This Texas singer-songwriter is held in the same esteem as fellow songwriters John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.

And now Clark is coming to the Bing Crosby Theater, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. He'll be accompanied by longtime sideman Verlon Thompson and a guest act to be announced.

Tickets wil be $27 and $37, reserved, and $52, Golden Circle, on sale June 13 at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest.