For about five years now, artist Chris Bovey has been creating prints of Spokane landmarks.
Many are still around, like the Monroe Street Bridge, the Parkade and Ming Wah, though long-gone establishments like 2 Swabbies and the Crescent live on in print.
Some prints (“Benny and Joon,” “Vision Quest”) allude to the city’s film history or to popular pastimes (“Cruising Riverside,” Bloomsday, Hoopfest, Spokane Indians).
Over the years, Bovey has branched out of the Inland Northwest to create prints of Seattle- and Portland-based landmarks, but his latest project finds him returning to his Spokane upbringing.
“Vintage Spokane: The Art of Chris Bovey,” a book of his Spokane-related prints, will be released Wednesday at Atticus Coffee and Gifts.
Bovey has been thinking about releasing a book of prints for about three years now but was apprehensive to actually get the project started.
“It kind of means you’re closing a chapter, if that makes sense,” he said. “Now all my other prints that I do from here on out, then you’ve got to think ‘Are you going to do a second book, or however many?’ ”
But when Andy Dinnison, co-owner of Atticus Coffee and Gifts, said they could easily do a second book if the first was successful and there was enough material, Bovey was on board.
In the book, Bovey writes that “Vintage Spokane” is not meant to be an exhaustive piece of Spokane history, nor is it meant to include every print he’s ever released.
“There are some that couldn’t make the cut,” he said. “It is called ‘Vintage Spokane,’ and I do a lot of the northwest and Seattle. We went through and said, ‘That’s going to work, that’s not going to work.’ ”
When Bovey first laid out his picks, he found the book to be very similar and static. Dinnison suggested breaking it up, so Bovey created spotlight pages – two-page spreads featuring classics like Dick’s and the garbage goat.
“It’s what makes Spokane Spokane,” Bovey said.
Bovey also included one of his favorite prints, the Regional Health District building, though he admits it’s a little polarizing.
He also snuck in a few designs that have never been printed, like the Shangri-La Motel and one representing Airway Heights, plus one of the Oregon Coast, just because.
“Vintage Spokane” went into production in the middle of June, and Bovey is proud of how the book, but especially the cover, turned out.
“I thought, ‘If we’re going to do this once, you’ve got to do it right,’ ” he said. “I went with this awesome linen texture you can feel with the cover, and then they did this dye stamp, which pushes in all the black on the cover so you can run your hand over it and it’s very tactile. It came out really good.”
Five years and dozens of prints into his Vintage Print career, Bovey still gets suggestions from fans about what he should print next. Mica Peak and Ponderosa were recent suggestions.
Sometimes, if enough people recommend a location, like Glover Mansion, Bovey will create a print even if he doesn’t have a personal connection with the space.
“Popularity and familiarity, those are two big factors,” he said, also mentioning a “coolness factor, which you can’t really quantify.”
But Bovey also has a list of locations he’d like to print, even if just for himself, like the new pedestrian bridge in the University District.
“I don’t think I would sell any of those, but I think it’d be really neat,” he said. “Or Newberry’s. I’ve wanted to do a Newberry’s print for ages. That was a big department store smack dab in the middle of downtown.”
He’d also like to create a print of Sam’s Pit but is reluctant because there was no sign on the building that he could replicate.
“I really like to have a cool sign or something memorable rather than just a name,” he said.
Bovey will have plenty of time to brainstorm a Sam’s Pit print after the launch of “Vintage Spokane.”
He thanks Andy and Kris Dinnison for their help with the book, as well as the community for supporting him and his work, something that continues to surprise him.
“This is just something I’ve been doing for fun, and everyone’s like, ‘Hey, we really like it, too,’ ” he said. “That’s awesome.”
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