Venues: Saranac Art Symposium, Nov 13, 2010

It’s Saturday and night and a small group of artists and art lovers are gathering at the Saranac art gallery. They are not here for an artist reception, but for the promise of good conversation.

In the second part of what has become a series, the Saranac Art Symposium brought together a panel to discuss venues in the Spokane art world. Everyone is invited to participate and listen in this event, which represents of tearing down of fences in a community made up of isolated individuals.

^ Panelists Jim Kolva and Naaman Cordova-Muenzberg

Scott Kolbo, Whitworth Art Department chair, moderated the panel. As a member of the Saranac art cooperative, his goal is community outreach. As a moderator, his rules are five minute limits for panelist speaking, and no whining or personal vendettas. This discussion is for constructive and thoughtful ideas.

Many young faces were in attendance, most were visual artists, and many were at the first Symposium in October, which was a general discussion about the present and future of the Spokane art scene. All of them listened enthusiastically to panel made up of local art venue owners.

This month’s panelists include:

· Sue Bradley – Gallery Owner – The Tinman Artworks
· Naaman Cordova-Muenzberg – Artist and Curator (Black Rabbit Magic)
· Jim Kolva – Art Collector and Co-Director of the Kolva/Sullivan Gallery

Each panelist represents a different part of the art venue spectrum, from serious to informal. Jim Kolva spoke first, choosing to discuss what types of venues exist in Spokane and bringing up the problem of the general public’s lack of interest or education in the arts.

Meunzberg had much to say about the local arts community, and he decided that performance art would be the best way to get the message out. A man came up from the audience and set out a mirror and a suitcase. He proceeded to put on a toupee, fake mustouche, glasses, tie and jacket. He then began to read a prepared statement, in a business like tone, about the relationship of money and art.

Art choices made in galleries are driven by what sells, rather than by aesthetic value. Most galleries can only stay open if the art sells, and the natural outcome is that real artistic expression falls by the wayside. Spokane art buyers are not as sophisticated as big city collectors.

Possible solutions bounced around in discussion. Temporary art shows like Terrain came up as examples of how new and interesting art might find a way into the public view. A lot of interesting and quality art is being created in the inland northwest, but there need to ways for such artists to be seen by the public. The coffee is one such method for unknown artists to get exposure, but art shows like Terrain reach out to artists who might not other wise know how to participate in the art community.

Sue Bradley uses her bookstore to show art and host children’s art classes. The Tinman is also commonly visited by art students who are completing homework assignments. Educating the public about the arts is one of Bradley’s goals for her gallery. The Tinman is considered part of the backbone in the Garland shopping district. She would love to see more street art around her gallery, or any sign of underground art culture.

Underground spirit characterizes many people in the room. This symposium brings together people who are passionate about the arts, as well as the community they live. As Scott Kolbo said at the beginning of the symposium, art makes the world a better place to be in. This group of artists want to make Spokane a better place to be in.

The next Saranace State of the Arts Symposium is being planned for sometime in January. Contact Scott Kolbo through the Saranac Project


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