Take a walk on Spokane’s creative side with your out-of-town guests this year. Get off the couch and give travelers a glimpse of a walkable city teeming with arts and culture.
Kendall Yards offers pedestrian-friendly sidewalks with local art adorning the walls of the neighborhood’s shops and restaurants, all with great views of downtown across the Spokane River. Start at Boutique Bleu on Summit Parkway, where designer clothing and shoes share space with jewelry, hats and bags.
On Boutique Bleu’s walls are whimsical pastels and acrylic paintings by local artist Vicky Cavin. Each painting was inspired by a song, from “Leave Your Hat On” to “Landslide.” The bright and ethereal works are music writ on canvas.
Next stop is William Grant Gallery and Framing, featuring ceramic artist Liz Bishop’s glass and metal-infused works. Bishop’s vibrant designs share space with small works by local artists Ann Trapp and Christina Rothe.
At the corner is Craftsman Cellars, where visitors can sample local wines with local art. The warm and inviting tasting room is the perfect spot to enjoy syrahs and pinot noirs while watching the sun set over downtown. Betty Bradley’s watercolors of landscapes and nature add to the festive ambiance.
Across the street, wander into Monkeyboy Bikes to see the latest in European trends and vintage styles. The bicycling-inspired art of Joy Greunenwald adorning the shop’s walls will transport you to spring and warmer climes. The rack of handmade skateboards by local craftsman Michael Hollister is a wow-worthy art installation in itself.
Behind Monkeyboy is Marmot Art Space, dedicated to showcasing regional artists. Small works line Marmot’s cozy gallery space, including pieces by Carl Richardson, Chris Kelsey, Gordon Wilson, Ric Gendron, Chelsea Francis, Cristina Marian, Clancie Pleasants, Susan Reyes and Kay West. There are also prints for sale from past exhibitors, including Polish artist Bartosz Beda.
Then it’s time to stop at the cooperative tasting room Solace Mead & Cider for a quick flight. The sips of spicy apple and berry go well with the breathtaking nature and cityscape photographs by Jesse Swanson.
Whatever you do at Kendall Yards, do not allow your guests to pass by the next shop along Summit Parkway, Mom’s Custom Tattoo. The “Gathering” exhibit is a revelatory study in impermanence by one of the shop’s talented tattoo artists, Anji Marth. The sight of dozens of skulls and dead foliage on wooden plaques along the halls where customers are getting inked is both moving and arresting.
The works are artful arrangements of nature’s remnants, from glued-together bits of abandoned beehives and mouse bones to mummified fruit bats and cicada shells. Reading just the descriptions of the materials used for each piece is downright addictive. For example, “Twin Prey: pair of cat skulls (found), rock dove skull, dried roses, paper berries, soft coral, shell, elk vertebrae, birch frame and backing, oil stain, luthier’s glue.”
Yeah, Marth has glued elk veterbrae, two dead cats and dried roses to a board. And it’s beautiful.
Be brave and walk another couple of blocks to what feels like a special secret: Tom Sawyer’s Country Coffee shop, tucked away among the condos. The stunning collection of antique coffee cans lining the shop’s shelves are museum-quality and sure to get your guests as jazzed as the hot java served up in the café.
Another, shorter art stroll that feels just as urban-cool is on Main Avenue downtown at Saranac Commons. The space is an artistic, open-concept building that hosts Common Crumb Artisan Bakery, Mediterrano, Caffé Affogato and Black Label Brewery. Baked goods and beer abound in the Commons area, where a new plant shop and the landscape photography of Tim Connors are the newest features to explore.
Next door to the Commons is the Saranac Art Projects space, where a small works sale is ongoing. One room is dedicated to an installation by Ellen Picken, who has crammed a room with more than 500 living plants of all sizes, called “586 Friends.” Each plant represents a Facebook friend, calling into question what it takes to keep one friendship alive, much less hundreds.
Another room features an array of collages, prints, paperweights and ceramics. Local artist Lisa Nappa etched “camp” glasses with nostalgic scenes of bootprints, shovels and campfires. Jenny Hyde’s digital drawings and glitch prints of birds are as beautiful as they are experimental. Lance Sinnema’s ceramic cups and Katie Creyts’ glass orbs are fresh takes on common objects, and Dan McCann’s tiny collages made from cash he’s picked up from around the world are endlessly fascinating.
Walk another couple of blocks to the Liberty Building, which is packed with more the works of more than 20 local artists showing as part of the “Flootie at the Liberty” exhibition. Artists including Ildiko Kalapacs, Vicki West, Tom Quinn and Tracy Dupuis have pieces on the walls of multiple floors. On the first floor, take time to browse for books the favorite local, independent bookstore Auntie’s. Check out the artists’ co-op Pottery Place next door for works by local potters.
Another great art walk in a part of town with true character is in the Garland District. Among the small shops and restaurants is the historic Garland Theater, Spokane’s first discount movie theater. Spokane’s improv comedy venue, the Blue Door Theatre, is also in the neighborhood.
One of the district’s newest neighbors is the local arts exhibition space, the Little Dog Art Gallery. The Little Dog’s “Winter Narrative” show features more than 20 artists embracing the wonder and magic of winter, including John Thamm, Kim Long, Oksana Tepp and Julie Gautier-Downes, to name a few.
Catch some of the artists at a reception from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday if you want to meet them and learn about about their processes in person. Then take a walk down the street to the Spokane Art School gallery, where there are always local artists on display.
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