The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once asked: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” A dozen local artists will try to answer that question at their group show, “Thoughts of Spring,” opening Friday at Avenue West Gallery.
“To fight the winter blues, we wondered what can we do that would make it a happy show?” said Carol Schmauder, treasurer of Avenue West’s artists’ cooperative. “Our thoughts turned to spring.”
Schmauder’s piece for the exhibit is a watercolor of brilliant pink apple blossoms. The vibrant flowers are about as far from Spokane’s current white-out conditions as one can get.
But the painting represents more than a cry for winter’s end. Although its branches are now bare of leaves and covered with snow, the tree still grows in Schmauder’s yard in Morgan Acres. It waits patiently to show off again, as another winter passes.
“My grandmother planted that apple tree, so it’s special to me,” Schmauder said. “She’s been gone quite awhile now.”
Another piece that captures a local spring display will be shown by member Sandy Aronson. Her lush oil painting is a landscape of a farm nestled in a grove of willow trees near Deer Park where she lives.
“There’s this wonderful rustic barn with old farm machinery around it, and there’s this contrast of these willows that turn yellowish orange in early spring,” Aronson said.
“I drove by, and I just couldn’t stand it,” Aronson said. “I had to stop the car and capture these images to paint.”
Aronson is one of Avenue West’s newest members. She has participated in juried shows throughout the region and studied with artists for years, but it wasn’t until her recent retirement from her 30-year career in nursing that she was able to dedicate herself to art full time. She took the plunge and joined Avenue West last year.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get a co-op to work together because there’s so many diverse personalities, and there’s a lot of work to be done with advertising and cleaning,” Aronson said. “But the atmosphere has been so supportive.”
Voted by Spokane CDA Magazine readers as the city’s best art gallery for 2016, Avenue West operates one of Spokane’s longest-running art co-ops. For 13 years, artists from varied disciplines, including ceramics, sculpture, woodworking and photography, have come together to support each other’s fine art and craft endeavors, and to share their works. The gallery moved north of the river to a space on Boone Avenue near Monroe Street a little over a year ago, adding more room to exhibit and plenty of free parking to attract new audiences and new members.
“We have spots for a couple more people to join the co-op,” Aronson said. “Friday’s opening would be a good time to come down to take a look.”
Among the co-op’s artists who are also showing this Friday are: Ladd Bjorneby, Cheryl Halverson, John Holen, Katie Densley, Marsha Marcuson, Pat Schilling, Elizabeth Scott, Carol Schmauder, Keiko Von Holt and Dian Zahner. Other participants include Bari Cordia Federspie and Scott Dillon.
With this many artists and their friends coming together to reflect on next season, it may be time to take the late comedian Robin Williams’ observance to heart: “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’ ”
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