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In a full circle moment, artist Sheila Evans takes first place at ArtFest 2022

Artist Sheila Evans has been attending the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture’s annual ArtFest since its earliest years on the museum campus, but it wasn’t until the event moved to Coeur d’Alene Park that she was able to participate in the competition.

Visiting for the first time, just out of college, it was ArtFest that inspired her to begin entering juried art shows.

“I wanted to do it so bad – it was just such a cool thing to me,” she said. She knew she wanted to get involved, it was just a matter of “how.” At the time, Evans was primarily into pastel work. So after seeing pastel artist Casey Klahn’s booth one year, everything changed.

She realized she had something to show.

“I could just do what I do.”

The last year it took place at the museum, she applied and was put on the wait list.

The next year, at the park, she was finally able to enter the competition and has competed almost every year since, winning various awards along the way. But, it seems that the big award was waiting for a full-circle moment.

Last weekend, Evans won the best of jury at 2022 ArtFest at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

“I’ve been … begging anyone that would listen for them to move it back to the MAC for years, so I was especially happy,” she said. “Weather aside, it was everything I hoped.”

Evans’ 35-piece oil collection featured a wide array of local “birds and botanicals,” most of which were inspired by photos she has taken on her property and other locations around the Inland Northwest.

“I’ve been a birder for a couple of years now,” she said. But finding herself a proper camera with an extra-long zoom lens was the real ticket this past couple of years. “Now I run around birding and take all my reference photos for the work – everything that I did is from my own photos.”

Growing up among her mother’s creativity, Evans has always been artistic.

“I was probably less than 2 when I started – I was the only child so I had a lot of time on my hands,” she said. “(My mother) was always doing something creative or leading me through something creative.”

Evans experimented with painting and other media over the years, taking art classes in high school and eventually earning a BFA from Gonzaga University. She also studied graphic design at Spokane Falls Community College and was eventually hired to illustrate for a T-shirt company.

“So I kind of went down this graphic design path for several years, but eventually – probably the mid-’90s, I circled around back to doing pastels, and eventually oils,” she said. “That’s when I started doing botanical work.”

At that point, she started getting into galleries and applying to group shows and festivals. By 2008, she was creating art full time. Next year, her work will appear at the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery and the MAC’s Helen South Alexander Gallery.

To aspiring artists, Evans had the following advice: When it comes time to apply to juried art shows, pay attention to the prospectus and make sure that your photo submissions look professional.

In general, “make art as much and as often as you can,” she said. “The process of doing that will lead you down the path to find out who you are as an artist and get your art to the quality level that you need it to be to get out there.”

Evans’ work is currently on display at The Art Spirit Gallery at 415 Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, and the Art Source Gallery at the MAC. For information, visit sheilaevans.net or check out Evans’ work on Facebook @SheilaEvansArt and Instagram @evans.enamel.art.

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