Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blue Door Improv

Being involved in an improv class I was automatically informed of the live theatre life in Spokane. One place I was told about was The Blue Door Theatre. The date of my attendance was the 8th of December. The show is described as not being suitable for children and this was made quite apparent when the show began.

Many innuendos and references were made throughout the show. The overall experience of the show was quick and short skits with tight and powerful lines. Audience members were asked to suggest locations, topics and animals; all of which were centered around Africa as the title Safari suggests.

The crew is a local Spokane improv group, who performs regularly at the Blue Door. In terms of a goal or venue mission, there isn't much, unless bringing local talent to a public attraction and causing laughter counts as such. The jokes were consistent and the audience members were fully engaged with what was happening on stage.

Having a theatre where groups of humorous individuals can meet up and perform is a great resource, especially since most actors and performers popular today got their start with their own local clubs and theatres. Watching people who aren't big name actors get laughs from people I don't know gives hope to my own dream of being a comedian/performer. I don't know if being a big-shot actor is what I'd want for myself, but being able to do small performances and getting laughs from an audience is always something I've wanted to experience.

One act that stuck out to me was one about a camel, no water and sand. Not to give too much away as joke similar to it may be present in future shows, but the punchline involved a bootleg bar and crabs. Not sure how all of those things relate? Check out the show for yourself and see why live theatre is alive and well.

While I draw inspiration from watching others succeed where I also intend to make a mark. I want to know, what causes us to push forward? Why do we set up goals and where do we draw the origins of these goals we make.


The Blue Door Theatre is located in the Garland District and is two streets over from the Garland Movie Theatre.

Girl Scouts Event

The intended art project that was going to happen with the Girl Scouts was a salt dough bead making and decorating activity. The girls would make an individual bead that best represents them as a person. The bead could be anything; a dinosaur to show they want to be a paleontologist, a comb to show they want to style hair, or anything in-between. The girls were to be given free-reign to allow self-expression without compromise or overbearing rules. Which relates to the statement and mission of the Girl Scouts, allowing girls to grow and become women without compromise.

The reason the word "intended" was used is because what happened once at the facility is not what was planned. A vast majority of the time was spent talking with the girls about anything that came to their minds. The conversations started out with introductions, who we were, why we were there and where were we born. The questions every child wants an answer to. Once the formalities were out of the way the girls shared who they were and recent events. Sadly, two days before we showed up one of their fellow Girl Scouts had passed from cancer. To lighten the mood we began to transition towards the bead making.

Before any of the supplies were out of the bag, the girls asked what everything was for. When told they would be making beads and painting, they all chanted "paint first". So the painting was the first event to take place. Each girl got a dish for storing paints, a few brushes of varying sizes and choice of what pre-made beads they wanted to paint. The girls had a fun time painting, some painted a different colour for different sides of the beads and some layered the paints on in thick globs making an oozing mess on the table.

Once the painting was done the girls asked if we would be coming back to entertain them. When told it is a possibility, their faces lit up. Then began the "build-a-bead" workshop. Giving dough to a handful of little girls is something that usually won't end in the intended outcome. Rather than make beads, the girls took it upon themselves to play with the dough. Making little people, fish, mashing it between their fingers and in two cases, sneaking a bite while no one was looking. Not surprising, the dough was very salty and created sour faces.

The girls continued to play with the dough and talk about anything that popped into their heads. This went on for 45 minutes, then parents started showing up and one-by-one the girls left. After a quick clean-up and scanning of the area to make sure nothing was being forgotten we left and headed towards home.


In order to respect the privacy of the girls, no names were used and the pictures featured were taken by the facility leaders and all girls have had release waivers signed by parents.

Tinman Artworks - Oil and Pastel

Artist: Sheila Evans
From: Spokane
Bio: Sheila is a full-time artist, who spends the off-seasons travelling shows from the Northwest to Midwest, where she also sells her own works. For the last three decades Sheila has been painting in oil and pastel. Plans have been made to open a brewery in the art studio she currently resides in, bringing drinks and self-expression together with a partnered business the Iron Goat Brewery. Sheila has also won several art awards, which includes: Best of Drawing awards (Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival), and a Creativity Award from Pastel Salon International (St. Aulaye, France).


The event I attended was a display at the Tinman Art Gallery in the Garland district. The Tinman is a small building located a few blocks away from the Milk Bottle and Garland Movie Theatre. New art shows are started every month, in the locally owned establishment. The pieces displayed are from local artists, keeping a "it's from here, let's support here" feeling. Keeping art displayed local helps thrive local communities and allows citizens to take pride in where they are from, building morale and respect among community members

Sheila's work is down with emphasis on living and organic items. Feeling these standout more and appear more interesting than fresh and thriving life. The pieces shown are leaves of varying kinds, colours and shapes. They are all shown in a drooping or falling state. With heavy emphasis on a "end of life" tone. The pieces are well drawn seem as if you could pluck the picture from the frame and feel the leaf crinkle and crush between your fingertips.

The piece I chose is the picture above. The leaves portrayed remind me of those I used to pull from trees when I was younger. The smooth to cracking texture gave a sense of autumn leading into winter. The sounds of leaves crunching beneath my feet are brought back full force just by observing this artwork. Pastel and oil are two mediums I enjoy the most. For myself I feel combined they created the most realistic pictures, allowing one to become sucked into a piece and feeling as if they have become a part of a display, and not just a viewer looking over work. The piece is well done, and uses a wide assortment of colours that helps breathe life into the leaves shown.

I wonder what it is that draws us to a piece or display. Is it a connection to something we are familiar with, or just an overcoming of emotions? While these seem to be the same idea, we can have an emotional reaction without any realization as to why. I am drawn to these pieces from memories of childhood. What draws you to favoured pieces?


The pictures shown are from the Tinman website as I was uncomfortable taking pictures in the gallery. I feel my camera would not represent the pieces in the intended way the artist had in mind and decided to go with approved pictures by the artist to better represent them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

local art show with Whitworth artist Blaine Eldredge

Celebration, fun, and good friends made up the local art show this past Friday night.  This show was a unique show, taking place in a small house, the space provided for a very intimate climate.  There were three artists being exhibited in this show, one of which was Whitworth student Blaine Eldredge.

Blaine known widely around campus for his involvement with Whitworth Outdoor Rec. is also a painter.  In this show there were about 10 pieces from Blaine, 3 of which were a part of a series.  One of which I want to talk to you about.

The first piece in this series, an oil pastel sketch was the piece that caught my eye.  The image projected was of a female life model in a sitting position.  I think the thing that caught my eye about this piece was the fact that the head of the model was not in the picture.

I confronted Blaine about the series, where he explained that the skull image hanging 2 paintings away was the head that went with the body, and the middle painting was the finished product done with acrylic paint.  The arrangement was this way because by having the colored print in the middle in created a balance and unity among the three pieces, drawing the viewer into the story.

This show was a very fun show.  I think that I liked it so much because it was such an intimate experience where you felt not only a personal connection to the art pieces, but you were also able to feel a connection with the artists themselves.

The Art of James LaVigne
and The History of Spokane

Like any other city on the planet, Spokane has it's landmarks.  Landmarks that in actuality make this city of ours unlike any other on the planet.  Spokane has character.  Even those who tend to discount Spokane, due to size or what have you, can admit that Spokane has character.  This city is the Inland Northwest.  This city is post-industrial.  This city was the home of a once thriving indigenous people. This city has some of the most troubled neighborhoods in Washington.  This city has wealth.  James LaVigne see's the beauty of this city.  Not in a Thomas Kinkade way, not even close.  James LaVigne seems to understand that the beauty of Spokane is found in it's complexity. This city is beautiful.  The Chase Gallery, in downtown spokane has recently engaged in displaying art representing the rich history of the city of Spokane.  Located in City Hall, nothing could have seemed more appropriate.  On display were a few oil paintings of famous building around the city, a few prints of the waterfall, beautiful work.  But nothing matched the power of the large scale prints of James LaVigne.  They were stepped in drama.  One image in particular, showed spokane's seemingly inexplicably baroque style courthouse, in the midst of a thunderstorm.  An image that seemed to perfectly represent the tumultuous nature of our fine city.  The courthouse, almost resembling Disneyland.  Located less than a mile from West Central, one tough neighborhood.  James LaVigne had several prints on display at the Chase gallery.  They all represented Spokane with an honest understanding.  They all seemed to tap into the spirit of Spokane. 

Lights and Shadows: Flash Photography...of a Flash

© 2012 Dean Davis 

If you made it down to First Friday (on December 7th), you may have wandered into Barrister Winery and seen the photography of Dean Davis lining the walls--and the subject is an interesting one: light bulbs.  Each is a different kind of bulb, with varying glass shapes, wiring, screw caps, etc.  Half are large gallery wrapped canvas pieces, and half are (slightly smaller) encaustic over photography, meaning that there is a layer of hot beeswax applied as a finish.  The larger-than-life representations of the bulbs highlight their intricacy, as all the tiny details are made easily visible.  Each light bulb appears to float above a surface, evidenced by a shadow slightly below the bulb, and each one seems to emit its own light.  The apparent weightlessness of the bulbs may perhaps be suggestive of the true subject matter that Davis is portraying: the light itself.  The bulbs, while aesthetically pleasing, are merely a housing for the light--almost being held up by the light--as it radiates everywhere.

The most intriguing thing about Davis' photographs is that each of them depicts the very source of his medium.  The word "photography" originates from the Greek words photos, meaning light, and graphos, meaning writing; literally, a photographer is "writing with light" (although many prefer saying that they "paint with light").  For each photograph, at least the ones in which natural light is not sufficient, the photographer uses some artificial light source (light bulbs!) to illuminate his or her subject, and then captures the resulting image.  In a way, Davis' light bulb series is a sort of internal view of photography.  It is flipping the lens around on itself, staring back into the core of photography.

Personally, as I reflect on this series, I find that it encourages a parallel introspection of my own light source.  Each of us shines, internally.  Each of us has a glow that radiates outward, illuminating our passions and our pleasures; our strengths and our weaknesses; our likenesses and our differences among our peers.  Taking a moment now and then to gaze inward and remember what our own light source(s) are is a healthy, and arguably necessary, thing to do.  It is a personal reminder of self, what makes you the very beautiful you that you are.


So take an introspective second and gaze upon your own light bulb, and then go see Dean Davis' show, Lights and Shadows, at Barrister Winery...or maybe the other way around so that you can engage in said introspection over a glass of wine...your call!  The show runs through December 31, 2012.

Dean Davis, along with his personal projects, has also done professional commercial photography since 1997.  Learn more about him online at www.deandavis.com.

Barrister Winery is located at 1213 West Railroad Ave. in downtown Spokane, WA, right in the midst of the historic Davenport Arts District.  Visit them online at www.barristerwinery.com.

On the Spot Creation

    This past Sunday night I, along with the friends, family, and faculty of Whitworth’s talented Improvisational students, braved the snow to attend the Cool Whip v. On the Spot Players Improvisation Show in Cowles Auditorium. Displayed in a sudden transfer from stage II to the main stage, five minutes before show time, the night immediately embodied the haphazard feeling of the performance. However, this feeling, in contrast to the usual order of planned performances, appeared to be desired. Once in a new seat, I observed the auditorium fill with a pretty large crowd, suggesting at both the popularity and talents of the performers. As the show finally began, the some-what jumbled group silenced and the players were introduced. In one corner stood the On the Spot Players sporting bright purple and nervous grins; on the other, the seasoned Cool Whip performers in a crazy slew of green and costumes. The battle commenced, its host explaining the orders of performance. The night would start with a rap contest and proceed with swapping acts between the two groups. Through tales of lying squirrels, the quest to fill ceiling holes, hungry pandas, interrogating ‘cereal’ killers, angry fishers, and whatever other odd combinations imagined, the audience and I survived uncontrollable bouts of laughter and surprise.
    Although all the acts were entertaining, my favorite was the On the Spot Players’ ‘Oreo Performance’. In this game, the chosen players had to act out an unplanned scene in a minute and then proceed to duplicate that scene three more times in shorter and shorter time frames (the last being a frenzied one second act). As elderly grocers fighting over Oreos, the actors did an amazing job quickly creating a performance that fit the goal of the game perfectly. In their unique phrasing and funny movements, whether planned or not, they tailored the skit perfectly to its guidelines, leaving the audience in stitches. Not only did these performers impress me, but all of them did. In just their bravery to jump into these chaotic situations, they beamed with self-confidence. Also, even more so, their abilities to quickly create characters and produce laughs amazed me. Working together in the sole aim to please the audience, the groups easily gained the favor and applause of the crowd. Especially W.A.C.y’s very own Gabby Perez and Airon Lynch, who impressively sported their skills as rappers, storytellers, and puppets.
Airon and Gabby as 'puppets'
   In watching this overflow of creativity and excitement, I found myself comparing the improvisational nature of the performance to the making of other forms of art. Sometimes as a result of unwanted mistakes or lack of materials, it’s the job of an artist to quickly problem solve and design on the spot. This lack of perfected assurance births originality and the unique life of each piece. Even in plays with scripts or the stocked studio environment, a sense of risk lies. There is never a certainty of the audience’s favor until the moment of revealing, the curtains fall, or the gallery’s open. Through this the artist, just as the improvisational player, must be charged with a trust in their abilities and ideas. It makes me ask: how do you incorporate the “unexpected” into your art processes?
    And who won the show? (Since despite its good nature and overall success, it was still a competition.) After the votes were tolled and drum roll played, the winner was… The On the Spot Players! -A well deserving bunch in my opinion.