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Archive: Arts & Culture / Spokane and North Idaho

Famed Santa Fe artist comes to Spokane

Dodson's Jewelers in downtown Spokane is hosting a show opening tonight featuring noted Santa Fe, New Mexico artist Estella Loretto.

Loretto, who grew up in New Mexico's Jemez pueblo, spent some time in Spokane during the 1980s, teaching Southwestern cooking and pottery. Now, she has larger, monumental bronze sculptures on display across the country, including Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American Indian, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Native American Center in Niagara Falls, New York, and the State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. Her most famous sculpture, of the only Native American saint, Blessed Kateri, stands outside the Cathedral of St. Francis in Santa Fe. In addition to her large sculptures, she also paints, and makes masks and jewelry.

She is returning to Spokane for the first time in more than two decades to attend the opening reception of her show tonight at Dodson's, 516 W. Riverside Ave. The reception will run from 5 to 8 p.m., and the Loretto show will continue through October.

Interested in learning more? Visit Loretto's website here.

Trivia geeks to take the stage

Trivia geeks unite.

Next Thursday, Spokane’s “best and the brightest” – and I use that term very loosely – will converge at the Bing Crosby Theater to reveal just how much useless knowledge is rattling around the old noggin.

That’s right. It’s the first Spokane Trivia Championship, to benefit STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at the Spokane Public Library.

The event, sponsored by the Spokane Public Library Foundation, will feature teams showing off their cultural, historical and geographical knowledge. The teams represent such august organizations as Witherspoon Kelley attorneys at law, Avista, the Inlander, Lewis & Clark High School and The Spokesman-Review.

Yes, The Spokesman-Review. Yours truly is on the team, having beaten Shawn Vestal in extra innings of the newsroom tryouts for the privilege. Taking the stage with me are copy editor Michael McGarr and The Slice’s Paul Turner. And I’m warning you, we all know a lot of useless stuff.

The fun begins at 7 p.m. at the Bing, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets are $12, available through TicketsWest. Children 12 and younger can enjoy this family-friendly event free of charge.

Mark Robbins, the guy from those Northern Quest commercials, is the emcee. For more information, visit the library foundation website.

Butterworth to inaugurate 2014-15 GU literary series

For the past several years, fans of literary readings have enjoyed an ongoing, annual event sponsored by Gonzaga University. The GU Visiting Writers series, which is free and open to the public, has brought such authors as Denis Johnson, Bharati Mukherjee and Jane Hirshfield.

The 2014-15 version of the series kicks off at 7:30 tonight at GU's Cataldo Hall with a reading by GU faculty member Dan Butterworth. Butterworth's latest collection of poetry is titled “The Clouds of Lucca.”

The rest of the series schedule: Oct. 21, poet Brenda Hillman; Nov. 20, writer Joanna Luloff; Feb. 18, writer Marilynne Robinson; March 25, poet Douglas Kearney; April 15, writer Michael Gurian.

For further information, click here.

Roosevelt lived in a village called Hyde Park

A few years ago, when I stopped in Little Rock, Ark., to visit a friend, I took the occasion to stop by the William J. Clinton Presidential Center. Other than the fact that the building reminded me of a single-wide trailer stretching out over the Arkansas River, the facility is fairly impressive.

Anyway, I just finished a one-week stay in a cabin located about 100 miles north of New York City. On the way, we passed the town of Hyde Park, home of another presidential memorial facility — that of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And so along with the many hours spent with grandchildren lollygagging in the cabin's swimming pool, my wife and I managed to carve out one afternoon for ourselves in which we returned south to Hyde Park to see FDR's home.

Now run by the U.S. Park Service, the facility is the first presidential library. And as the guide who lectured to us as we toured Roosevelt's house explained, the building — and everything in it — sits exactly as it did when FDR died on April 12, 1945. This explains why it isn't as bright and shiny as, say, Clinton's.

Nevertheless, the place is well worth visiting. Love him or hate him, and as with some other notable presidents — from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama — there don't seem to be many stuck in the middle, Roosevelt deserves respect for having presided over one of the most difficult periods in U.S. history. He had to deal with the ongoing financial ruin that followed the stock market crash of 1929, the resulting Great Depression of the 1930s (which included the drought that nearly blew away the Great Plains) and most of World War II. No wonder Roosevelt was the only president elected more than twice (and, in fact, was elected four times).

Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park is a part, then, of our national history. If you're ever in the neighborhood, you should drop in.

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter start podcast

You've likely read and enjoyed the works of Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter. But now you can hear what's on the minds of the two authors with local ties: They just began a weekly podcast called “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment,” where they plan on talking about a wide range of topics, including their literary projects, basketball, world events and more. They'll also read some of their pieces and bring in the occasional guest.

Give it a listen or subscribe by clicking here.

Spokane arts gets a 50-something boost

If you've noticed some sidewalk arts displays set up around Spokane over the past several months, you may not know what they're about. I'm referring the ones marked as the Spokane 50, an art/photo project, conceived and produced by Marshall Peterson, designed to honor that number of Spokane residents who are arts boosters.

You can find out more about the project by clicking on the above links. Or you can watch the embedded video below, a production by the team behind the Spokane Film Project.

They all deserve a round of applause: the 50, the Spokane Film Project and Marshall himself.

Author Nestor will take you into the ‘Deep’

Assuming you aren't going to see “Book of Mormon” tonight, you might be interested in learning a little something about the ocean. That's what author James Nestor will offer at 7 tonight at Auntie's Bookstore. Nestor will read from, and answer questions about, his book “Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves.”

Nestor's book works as a trek to the depths and back, an experience the New York Times called “a journey well worth taking,” If you have the time, not to mention the interest, you just might agree.

Click here for more information.

Take some tips on how to cut down on the mess

Most of us are concerned with the stuff that we collect. That excludes, of course, those who are featured in television shows such as “Hoarders.” But for the rest of us, we sometime need … well, help. Which is what The Minimalists offer.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus devote a lot of time and effort to the topic of minimalism — which they define as “a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives” — through television and radio shows, a website and podcasts. And public appearances.

Millburn and Nicodemus will share some of their tips at 7 tonight at Auntie's Bookstore.

Hmmm, maybe they can tell me what to do with all those boxes of books in my storage room that I can't imagine giving away. 

Hear a coroner’s secrets tonight at Auntie’s

For the past several years, some of the most popular shows on television have involved forensics. And crime scene investigation. And one of the integral parts of CSI involves the coroner, whose medical expertise aids the investigators in their attempts to ascertain the how and why of death — particularly murder.

That's television. In real life, coroners are far less expert than their fictional counterparts. And one person who is well aware of the limits facing real-life coroners is Robert West, former physician-coroner in Kootenai County, Idaho, and author of the book “It Can (and Does) Happen Here” (Abbott Press, 170 pages, $13.99 paperback).

Here's a short synopsis of West's book provided by the publisher: “When a loved one dies in a mysterious manner, we rely on coroners and medical examiners to tell us what happened. The stakes are high: Coroners seek justice for the dead, exoneration for the wrongfully accused, and closure for the families of victims. They are always on call and work closely with law enforcement.”

Smith will read from his book at 7 tonight at Auntie's Bookstore.

Auntie’s presents Jance tonight at The Bing

You may have heard of J.A. Jance. If you're a mystery fan, you probably have. If you're a fan of Pacific Northwest mysteries, you almost certainly have. Whatever, you might be interested to know that Jance will appear at 7 tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater to preview her latest novel “Remains of Innocence” (Morrow, 405 pages, $26.99).

Jance, who splits time between Seattle and Arizona, is the author of three different mystery series featuring the protagonists J.P. Beaumont, Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds. “Remains of Innocence” is her 17th Brady book (she's written 22 Beaumont books and nine Reynolds novels), and it involves two cases — a death in New York, a murder in Arizona — that fall in Sheriff Brady's lap.

Tickets to the event, which are $3, are available at Auntie's Bookstore and at the door. Click here for more information.

Billboard project goes live

Friday morning, people wandering in downtown will have the chance to watch some art in action.

Jesse Pierpoint, and artist and creative director for Seven2 in Spokane, will be live-painting a billboard at 301 W. Main on Friday (today) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The project, by Boom Creative and Global Credit Union, is part of the CU’s Global Citizen campaign; Pierpoint will be painting his interpretation of “legacy” on the 10-by-23-foot billboard, while perched atop a three-story scissor lift.

Down below, meanwhile, there’ll be a bit of a party. Local DJs Twin Towers will provide the music, and food will be available for sale from the Bistro Box food truck.

Summer’s a good time to blend books and food

Looking for a cultural event to attend tonight? Probably. So if you want to blend a bit of restaurant life with literary manners, show up at Auntie's Bookstore at 7 p.m. to hear Seattle author/restaurateur Molly Wizenberg read from her memoir, “Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Marriage.”

For more information on Wizenberg, go to her blog here.

And make sure to buy something. Auntie's can use the support.

Vestal’s ‘Godforsaken Idaho’ a PEN finalist

Congratulations to Shawn Vestal, staff writer and columnist at The Spokesman-Review — and a former colleague of mine. Vestal's short story collection “Godforsaken Idaho” has been named to the shortlist of the PEN Literary Awards. Vestal's collection is one of the five finalists in contention for the 2014 Robert W. Bingham Prize, an award for a debut work of fiction that carries with it a $25,000 reward.

Here are some of the comments made about Vestal's story collection:

From Kirkus: “A provocative and revelatory debut, filled with stories about losing faith and trying (often in vain) to find purpose, mainly set amid the sparsely populated Mormon country of the rugged Northwest.”

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: ” 'Godforsaken Idaho' is a rewarding introduction to a new author.”

From Oprah.com: ” 'Godforsaken Idaho' (New Harvest), Shawn Vestal's slam-dunk debut, casts a cinematic shadow on the American West.”

You can see the entire list by clicking here.

Ink auctioning off notable local books

Ink Art Space, a new program aimed at teaching children the arts, is hosting a fundraiser Friday. The Light Up the Sign Happy Hour from 5 to 8 p.m. will feature hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as well as a silent auction. Among the prizes in the auction are artworks, a day on the set of the SyFy series “Z Nation” currently shooting in Spokane, and a selection of books by Spokane-area authors, all autographed and curated by Ink board president Jess Walter.

Among the more than 50 titles – including some first and special editions – in the collection are works by Timothy Egan, Sherman Alexie, Chris Crutcher, Terry Trueman, Natalie Kusz, Shawn Vestal, Samuel Ligon and Walter.

The evening will feature beer from River City Brewing and wine from Townshend Cellar.

Ink is located at 228 W. Sprague Ave., in downtown. Admission is free. For information, visit Ink’s Facebook page or here.

Taking a slow stroll though the big city

Travel, especially these days, can be an exhausting exercise.

This applies particularly to flying. Just getting through security can take all the patience you can muster, and that’s even after negotiating the often long lines to check a bag (which can cost extra). Let’s not even bring up the boarding procedure, which can resemble fish attempting to ford a dam while carrying as many possessions as they can stuff into their two allowed carry-on bags, stopping to carefully pack them away in the overheads while dozens of their fellow travelers wait impatiently for their chance to hold up the process.

Yeah, traveling can be a real pain.

 Which is why, after flying somewhere, I like to stay put. No more city-a-day explorer quests for me. Get me to a city and let me find a nest so that I can do my daily walkabout at my leisure.

That’s what I’ve been doing since arriving Saturday at the Fort Green/Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, New York. Just this morning, after dropping my granddaughter off at her elementary school, I took a long walk around Fort Green Park.

First I dropped by Red Lantern Bicycles, which is a combination coffee shop-eatery/bicycle-repair shop and ordered my special drink: a 16-ounce (double-shot) Americano, which turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to a cranberry-rhubarb muffin.

Then, because it’s what I always do, I did a Google search for Brooklyn bookstores. The closest one, Greenlight Bookstore, was barely a five-block walk away, which even strolling through a slightly cool, overcast NYC morning, took me only a matter of minutes. I did make sure to stroll, though, enjoying both the classic city brownstone apartments with their high stoops, shaded by the massive trees whose roots buckled the sidewalks as if they were made of peanut brittle instead of concrete.

And the store, nothing like the warehouse atmosphere of a Barnes & Noble or even Auntie’s, was worth the walk. It’s one of those chic, specialty kinds of stores that features the latest in hardback and paperback releases and a studiedly eclectic collection of offbeat and classic offerings in all genres.

I looked for, again as I always do, and found books by two of my favorite Washington authors, Jess Walter and Sherman Alexie. But as I have most of their works at home (including a couple of copies in Italian of Jess’ novels, such as “Il fiume deI cadaveri” and “Senza passato”), I passed on the opportunity to buy more.

Instead, after an hour-long search, I finally purchased a novel by the American novelist James Salter. “The Hunters” was his first book, published originally in 1956.

Then I walked home, again leisurely, enjoying more diversity in a few blocks than I tend to experience in Spokane over a full year.

Not a bad way to spend the day. And certainly the way I prefer to travel. 

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