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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Art School’s Expo ‘74 exhibit showcases local artists then and now

By Azaria Podplesky For The Spokesman-Review

Many visitors brought home souvenirs from Expo ’74 – T-shirts, pins and buttons, postcards, even commemorative plates and spoons, all emblazoned with the blue, green and white Expo logo designed by Lloyd L. Carlson.

But for textile artist Louise Kodis, it’s what she didn’t take home that she remembers most about Expo ’74.

Kodis was commissioned to create a set of banners for the Environmental Symposium Exhibit Hall. Half of the banners featured white latex on black cotton to represent the harm people have done to the environment, while the other half were more optimistic, with warm, happy colors.

The banners hung in the exhibit hall for the entirety of Expo. When the world’s fair ended in November, Kodis said many elements of Expo were then sold or given to people or other events so they could be used again, leading to people going to the exhibits with requisitions for various items or even the exhibition halls themselves.

You might have already guessed what happened next.

“Fake requisitions came to the environmental symposium manager to take the banners,” Kodis said. “During that time, I had some stolen from my own porch. I was making simple, colorful things to hang on my porch, and they were stolen during Expo. I have a history of my banners being stolen. Somebody wants them.”

Fifty years later, Kodis will once again have banners on display in honor of Expo ’74, this time at Spokane Art School’s Expo ’74 50th Anniversary Show. And you better believe she’s leaving with all of her art the second time around.

The exhibit opens Monday, July 8, and closes July 26, with an artist reception from 5 to 8 p.m. July 12. Along with Kodis, the show will feature work from Gina Freuen, Jo Fyfe, Jeff Harris, Kit and Pete Jagoda, Sami Perry, Tom Quinn, Ken Spiering, E.L. Stewart and Gordon Wilson.

With many of this summer’s Expo events remembering where Spokane was in 1974 and celebrating where it is now, Jodi Davis, managing director of Spokane Art School, said the idea was similar when planning the anniversary art show.

“The idea was to see who we could find who had been around during the Expo who was creating art at that time and asking them if they could bring a piece from when they were young, and then bring in a contemporary piece so we could showcase the two pieces together,” she said.

Davis said artists were excited about the idea when approached about the exhibit and set to work finding pieces that dated from around Expo ’74.

“We get these really wonderful, fun pieces that show them at this young age when they were developing their style and their work,” she said. “And for now, with somebody like Gordon Wilson, I don’t know how long Gordon Wilson’s been painting, but you can really see the genesis of his work from then to now and how he’s really always had the style that he has now. It’s developed and grown but you can really see the flavor of his work in that early piece.”

At the Expo ’74 anniversary show, Kodis will display a piece she made for a retrospective of her work held at the Jundt Art Museum about six years ago. Kodis said the piece, which is 9 feet high and 42 inches wide, is a complex, 3D piece made to be viewed from both sides.

Kodis is proud that she’s been able to earn a living by selling textile art and has pieces on display in both public and corporate spaces across the country. Over the course of her career, Kodis has worked from a home studio, enjoying the freedom to float between her studio and garden as she pleases.

She no longer takes commissions, but she is still creating and is happy to see so many artists in Spokane are too.

“It’s hard to decide what to go to now,” she said about the amount of visual and performing arts events available. “Forty years ago, it was hard to find something to go to.”

Davis, who worked at the Chase Gallery in City Hall, with artist Tom O’Day, at the Lorinda Knight Gallery and at Tinman Artworks before starting at Spokane Art School in 2007, is also excited by how much the Spokane art community has grown since she’s been part of it.

She hopes that when it comes time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Expo ’74, that community will be even bigger.

“Spokane has always had the most extraordinary artists,” she said. “You look at somebody like Harold (Balazs) or Mel McCuddin or Ken Spiering or Kay O’Rourke, their work is far reaching. I hope that that will continue and that we’ll continue to grow and that Spokane will become a hub for artists to come and build community. More of what we’re already doing.”