News / Blog

Lit for Art in Spokane

Sheila Siden

Director of Development

Gregory Spatz, Margit Rankin, Sue Bradley, David Shields, Bernadette Vielbig and Kay O'Roarke. photo: Sheila Siden

Go East or BUST! This past weekend, Artist Trust staff and Board members traveled to Spokane for our quarterly Board meeting and an artist salon. At Artist Trust, we are a more than a little geeky about the geography of Washington State, serving artists throughout as we do. Under blue sky and fluffy clouds, Associate Director Lila Hurwitz and I spent our road trip from Seattle learning all about the land en route, listening to the Washington Folk Arts’ Tour 7: I-90 east, Seattle to Spokane.

Friday night, we rendezvoused in the Davenport Hotel’s Peacock Room Lounge. Its grand Mission Revival Style architecture and resplendent stained glass ode to peacocks set the mood for an evening in the equally historic Bing Crosby Theater for the Get Lit! Festival’s writers lineup, featuring Artist Trust grant recipient David Shields, Jaimy Gordon and Joyce Carol Oates. I confess to never having read a book by Joyce Carol Oates, but I am a new fan after hearing her wry humor and reading her essay, The Myth of the Isolated Artist.

Saturday, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture was the inspiring setting for our Board meeting. Native American teenage students gave us a tour of the Lasting Heritage: Plateau Tribal Cultures exhibit, copiously illustrated by painter Ric Gendron. The most memorable artifacts to me were Joe Feddersen‘s interpretation in glass of a fish-catching basket, alongside fantastic works portraying wildfires by James Lavadour, whose ultra-thin oil paint landscapes amaze and inspire in their photographic appearance and essential sense of place that they convey. With. So. Little. Paint.

Sue Bradley, our Spokane representative on the Board, and her husband Scot hosted a very enjoyable salon in their art-filled home, inviting local artists and old and new friends of Artist Trust. Bernadette Vielbig and Kay O’Roarke conveyed their passion for their work, the Spokane arts community and for Artist Trust’s support of individual artists. Gregory Spatz read from his recent book of stories, Half as Happy. Thank you to all guests who donated!

David Shields arrived at the salon as a surprise guest, and in his impromptu talk, said a few words that stood out for me: “David Foster Wallace, asked what’s so great about literature, said that we’re existentially alone on the planet—you can’t know what I’m thinking and feeling, and I can’t know what you’re thinking and feeling—but that literature at its best is a bridge constructed across the abyss of human loneliness. Wallace then went on to say that in fiction there is a huge amount of contrivance, but don’t worry; we can get past this contrivance. That part of his statement I’m not in sympathy with. I want as thin a membrane as possible between art and life. I want a literature in which the writer foregrounds as fully as possible how he/she solves/solved/didn’t solve the problem of being alive. I want a literature that doesn’t allow us to escape existence but teaches us how to endure it. Such a literature I find truly loneliness-assuaging and life-saving.” Check him out on the Colbert Report.

Our Spokane weekend was beautiful, friendly and full of art and ideas. Go East! Go West! Go North! Go South! Support Washington artists!