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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

MAC hosts Watercolor Society exhibit

The Spokane Watercolor Society’s annual juried show has a new home at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

Starting Sept. 30, paintings will be on display in the Helen South Alexander Gallery in the Cheney Cowles Center.

“This show will be unlike any other as we now have the ability (through the international Call for Entry website) to reach the entire world and we are extremely pleased to say that we have applicants from as far away as the Dominican Republic,” said society member Vicki West. “And we are pleased to have found a home at the MAC.”

In the past, the society had their annual exhibit at different venues but the MAC has obliged them, offering space into the coming years.

“It’s an opportunity to broaden people’s exposure and to celebrate and promote regional artists,” said MAC Executive Director Forrest Rodgers.

The Spokane Watercolor Society was formed in 1952 by a handful of men in their 20s who worked in the field of advertising. They got together on weekends and evenings to paint and critique each other’s work, creating art for themselves, not a client.

“It was also a convenient way to express yourself,” said founding member Don Nepean, 87.

The first woman joined about eight years later and now, the group has about 60 members with ages ranging from mid-30s to mid-90s.

Elaine Syth, the society’s president, joined about 12 years ago.

“I’ve had the desire to paint all my life,” she said. “I joined after waking up one morning and asking myself, ‘what am I waiting for?’ ”

Syth’s duties include managing the group’s Facebook page, website and roster. This is her third year as president and it will be her last so she can devote more time to her art.

“The society is very involved and there’s a lot of things to do,” she said.

On their tax forms, they are listed as a “hobby group” but to many of the members, it is much more than a hobby.

“The challenge of interpreting every texture, angle, dimension, perspective, emotion, human sensibility, place and time are all driven by that insatiable urge to record the world around us sometimes just as it appears in its rawest state but also as we hope it could be,” West said. “When we’re gone, we also hope that our lives can be remembered for something, just a small mark in time eternal and for me, a codicil to my own personal, unofficial raison d’etre.”

When asked about the perception of watercolor artists, Rodgers said, “It’s not just little blue-haired ladies painting on Sundays and it never was; it’s a demanding art form.”

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