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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Visual Arts Tour turning winter blahs to ahhs

This is a weekend of color, light, beauty, metaphor, imagination and celebration.

The winter Visual Arts Tour brings together more than 200 local and regional artists – from first-time exhibitors to our region’s favorite and most collected painters, sculptors, ceramicists, photographers and mixed media artists – at 34 galleries, art museums and businesses throughout downtown Spokane and nearby locations.

Opening receptions take place Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., with opportunities to meet many of the artists and discuss their works, listen to music at many locations, and move along to more exhibits than you’ll have time to see in this self-guided tour.

Many of the events will continue over the weekend, and everything is free to attend.

A stunning show that will make you catch your breath as you enter the door at Saranac Art Projects is the 24th annual Works From the Heart Contemporary Art Auction preview, part of an annual fundraiser for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

Artwork in most every medium by some 90 of the region’s best-known artists is hanging salon style in the gallery at 25 W. Main Ave., from high up on the brick walls down to below eye level.

There are paintings by Tom Quinn, Ric Gendron, Charlie Palmer, Stan Miller, E.L. Stewart and Mel McCuddin; ceramic works by Gina Freuen, Virginia Carter, Jill Smith and Chris Kelsey; photography by Stephen Chalmers, Rick Singer, Dean Davis and Rajah Bose; and works in many other mediums.

A focal point from the entry is a multihued cut plastic collage by Bradd Skubinna called “Blue Decoration,” set high on the wall.

“It’s a celebration of our city’s and our region’s contemporary artists,” said Ben Mitchell, the MAC’s art curator.

Artists have donated the works for the Feb. 14 auction at the Spokane Masonic Center, with either 50 or 100 percent of the proceeds going to the museum’s acquisition and education funds.

Auction tickets still are available for $75, which includes hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and live music by Spokane painter and musician Kathleen Cavender and her band.

You may also arrange to bid without attending the event by calling the museum ahead of time at (509) 456-3931.

Another annual show that brings a large group of artists together is Raw Space, sponsored by the Spokane Arts Commission and Spokane Art Supply.

Typically, the group of 50-to 70-plus artists finds a large, vacant building, a “raw” space that they transform into a working art gallery for the weekend. They divide shifts for hanging the show, working at the opening, acting as docents during the Saturday and Sunday hours, and teardown. The artists get to keep 100 percent of their sales in return.

This year, the location is the historic Fernwell Building, 505 W. Riverside Ave., in the space that used to house the Rock City Grill.

The 59 artists participating in the nonjuried show reflect a wide range of experience levels, from emerging to established, in a vast array of mediums.

Part of the excitement of Raw Space is that none of the artwork has been seen ahead of time and “you don’t know what you’re gonna get,” said Nan Drye, volunteer coordinator.

“We do tend to have some of the more interesting pieces (in the tour) at Raw Space,” she said.

Drye, also an artist, is creating an installation that uses pre-existing hooks on a bright orange interior wall. She said it will be a spontaneous work similar to string art of the ’60s and ’70s, where a shape was created by wrapping string around nails, making “funky geometric shapes.”

Other pieces include painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, works in steel, and a mixed media and film exhibit done by students at the Crosswalk teen shelter.

Two blocks to the west, Shelly Murney is the featured artist at the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza, 701 W. Riverside Ave, second level. Her work is exploratory as she seems to challenge perceived ideas about photography.

An art instructor at Eastern Washington University, Murney shoots with a low-resolution video camera.

“It produces these stills that are really noisy,” she said. “Technical noise is when the sensor in the digital camera makes up data.”

Murney takes pictures while the camera is in motion, for example, while she is riding in a car. Many of the images in her series at the Plaza, “Noise and Motion,” were taken at night and show bright, colorful lights that move across the composition, indicating a luminous trail of movement.

During long exposures, with her camera set in night mode, she moves the camera and “draws with the light trails,” exploiting moments like driving over train tracks.

“I let Photoshop build the images, using the mistakes and the noise,” said Murney, adding that it’s “all about letting technology do its thing.”

Works from the series also are on exhibit in a juried “contemporary public art experience” in China.

The short drive over to Browne’s Addition will be worth seeing a first-time group exhibit by the Lilac City Rollergirls roller derby team and two of their referees.

These tough, physical, athletic women have a sensitive side, and they are sporting their multiple talents at the Browne’s Addition Wellness Center, 2013 W. Fourth Ave.

Spokane painter Katherine Brower, whose skate name is Dirty Katy, recently joined the team. Her large oil-on-canvas “Baby Snakes,” depicting a seated teammate posing in a blue dress and black skates, shows Brower’s talent in portraiture.

Toni Faber, aka “Tone Death,” is a photography student at Spokane Falls Community College. She’s showing three black-and-white photos of a teammate skating in a ’70s prom dress in downtown Spokane’s skate park.

“Bad Kat” Jen Burton is exhibiting a series of emotional paintings depicting the heart, and “Euthanizer Bunny” Perla Hernandez has a series of acrylic paintings. One, a spinoff of the Lilac City Rollergirls logo, has a golden skate embedded in the canvas.

“I did that for the team, basically,” said Hernandez.

Jennifer Zurlini can be reached at or (509) 459-5479.
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