Seattle artist merges family with artwork

Zack Bent considers himself a post-medium artist, working with a variety of different mediums for his pieces. The Seattle-based artist brought his exhibit, “A Pathetic Adventure,” to the Bryan Oliver Gallery on Feb. 19. His color photography lines the walls along with a video and sculptures in the middle of the gallery. Bent said he has always loved photographs, even though he also did painting and drawing.

“My grandfather was a photographer,” Bent said. “My parents were, too. I’ve always been around photographers.”

Zack Bent

Though Bent was exposed to photography at a young age and expressed an early interest in it from childhood, he was not always set on doing it for a living.

“I majored in architecture and minored in photography at Ball State University in Indiana,” Bent said. “After graduating with my degree, I realized architecture was not something that fit into my vision of what I wanted to do. I realized my passion is for photography.”

Bent’s works in the gallery focus on simple, everyday interactions which he finds profoundly interesting.

“I would say that I’m an artist who focuses on everyday life,” Bent said. “I’m fascinated with bizarreness of common daily occurrences that surround us.”

Some of his photographs feature his 7-year-old son wearing a Boy Scout uniform and setting off colored smoke bombs in the woods. He is seen behind a screen of orange smoke, smiling in his brown uniform and building a fire in a field. Bent’s wife, who is a painter, also appears in the photographs.

Bent takes his commitment to his family seriously, and makes sure his work does not interfere or disrupt their relationship.

Zack Bent 2

“If I’m working noticeably long and hard on a particular project and it begins to affect my family, that’s where I draw the line and say ‘that’s enough,’” Bent said.

Whitworth art lecturer, Lance Sinnema likes Bent’s insightful style. Sinnema teaches ceramics and other art classes but as the gallery director, he also focuses on arranging and helping build the exhibits that appear on campus.

“Zack’s pieces draw my attention in that they create an opportunity to expand and educate the Whitworth community in a unique way,” Sinnema said.

Bent runs his own art practice doing commercial photography, working almost entirely independently. In addition to his practice, he teaches art classes at the University of Washington, where he studied for his master’s at age 30. His true passion is his independent practice.

“When I find myself inspired, my excitement is like a fire — it’s hard to put out once it gets going,” Bent said. “My practice is kind of like research in that I’m looking to find problems that I know there are solutions to. I just have to find them.”

Bent is passionate about art and the elements which surround his work.

“Art gives us a view into parts of life that other studies simply can’t touch,” Bent said. “Art is a strong component to creativity and I love utilizing that component to make interesting works that inspire me.  I’m not too sentimental about my pieces. There are some, though, that take me back to a place that I love — a place that inspires me.”

“A Pathetic Adventure” will be featured in the Bryan Oliver Gallery through April 6.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

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Art professor exhibits overseas oil paintings

Bringing landscape paintings and animal portraits from travels abroad, as well as from Washington, Whitworth art professor Gordon Wilson opened a new art exhibit at the Tinman Gallery Oct. 26.

The exhibit, titled “Brunch at Wasnick’s,” boasts 30 paintings from travels to Italy in the summer of 2010 and Germany in 2011, as well as landscapes from Ridgefield, Wash., and Vence, France.

The majority of the oil-on-linen paintings were crafted on site, while others were partially completed abroad and finished in the studio. A few of the paintings are purely studio-made from sketches and memory.

The paintings from Wilson’s stay with friends Ute and Klaus Wasnick in Adelberg, Germany, are the most recently made paintings in the exhibit. During his stay, Wilson frequently visited the neighbors, who own goats, chickens and rabbits.

“It was an experience just to go there,” Wilson said. “I was there to paint landscapes, but the animals were just so interesting.”

His works from Germany include landscape paintings, but Wilson primarily focused on the animals, which he described as social and fun. Paintings of goats at the brunch table, mingling chickens and crows in flight coalesce in Wilson’s first group of paintings with animals.

“I like the direction the paintings with the animals are taking,” said Bryan Oliver Gallery director and art professor Lance Sinnema. “They are very engaging and lively.”

One of the largest paintings in the exhibit displays three female goats and a chicken waiting at a set table with the fence and pasture behind them. The painting, Wilson said, is as life-size as he could make it and embodies the playfulness of the animals.

“We didn’t actually have them to brunch, we had them there in spirit,” Wilson said. “It was important they were on the table side of the fence — they weren’t, but it was much more fun that way.”

The larger paintings in his collection were too large to have been painted on site and thus were painted in Wilson’s studio. Though he was no longer among the animals, Wilson said that as they began to materialize in the painting, they kept him company.

“When I was painting them, it was as if I was confronting them, as if I was meeting them again,” Wilson said. “I’ve never had this much fun painting before.”

“Brunch at Wasnick’s” will be open through Nov. 25 at the Tinman Gallery at 811 W. Garland Ave.


Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Layers of a “Gray/Grey” world

Artist opens new exhibit in Bryan Oliver Gallery

Artist Michelle Forsyth brings together watercolors, paintings and weavings that she said offer the viewer a meditative viewing space. Forsyth is opening an exhibit titled “Gray/Grey” in the Bryan Oliver gallery on Nov. 13.

The water colors are saturated hues continually layered until grey tones are created, but the original washes of color can still be seen in certain lighting, as well as on the edges of the paintings. Forsyth’s work is process-oriented; she said she enjoys  delving into the meditative space it creates.

“I try to employ practices and technologies that slow myself down,” Forsyth said. “They are so time consuming that I get caught up in it.”

Forsyth said the viewer often considers these meditative works as abstractions, even though they are representations.

Gallery director and art professor Lance Sinnema said the pieces are very layered.

“It sounds like the surfaces are very subtle,” Sinnema said. “When you look at them from a distance it’s just grey tones, but as you get closer you notice all the layers.”

The exhibit will also include woven pieces that are a return to Forsyth’s creative origin: knitting and needlework taught to Forsyth by her mother. These pieces continue the process-oriented theme and are made from many different materials, including bamboo and cotton.

“I’m also really interested in labor,” Forsyth said. “The labor is impugned into the work”

A viewer mentioned to Forsyth that these works looked like her husband’s shirts. After hearing this, Forsyth began work that is actually based on patterns from her husband’s shirts.

“It was just an off-hand comment, but I went with it,” Forsyth said.

Those pieces incorporate paintings on wood, linen and weavings. Unlike the water colors which are made with large brushstrokes, these paintings are created with tiny brushstrokes, creating a new texture.

“It slows people down when they view the work,” Forsyth said.

Forsyth has displayed work in group and solo exhibits throughout North America and overseas, including the Zaum Projects in Portugal, the Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, and the Hogar Collection in New York. She is currently associate professor in the fine arts department at Washington State University.

“Gray/Grey” opens at the artist’s reception Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. in the Bryan Oliver Gallery. Forsyth will give a lecture at 6 p.m.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Sculptor creates stop motion film project inspired by dream world

Sets and characters built by hand, music scored and photos taken, six years of work to create 12 minutes of stop motion film, only a third of the intended length. Californian sculptor John Frame introduced his ambitious film project to the Spokane community at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture on Oct. 10.

Frame has been sculpting since 1980. He has exhibited extensively in the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and Taiwan. Though he has been a successful artist for more than 30 years, he is new to the Northwest art scene.

“There’s a lot of artists like me, who have sustained themselves but haven’t reached renown at the national level,” Frame said.

Frame is self-taught, never having taken a sculpting class. Even still, he achieved an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University as well as an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Cornish College of the Arts. Despite this success and his busy 20-year art career, in 2000, Frame hit an artistic wall.

“I felt this box closing in on me, as the box closed in tighter I struggled much harder to get out of it, and the more I struggled the tighter the box became,” Frame said.

After five years not producing any work, Frame closed his studio in Los Angeles and moved out of the art world; it was as if his creative spirit had left him. But in 2005, after Frame had given up on art completely, he experienced a breakthrough.

At two in the morning, Frame had a lucid dream experience. In this state, Frame saw a world and characters unlike anything he had ever seen before.

“I could see the dream world, I could see it and I was also conscious of seeing it,” Frame said. “I simply looked at that world and tried to memorize it.”

After writing down stacks of notes including thumbnail sketches and minimal storyboarding of what he dreamt, Frame started work on what he knew would be a stop motion film.

“I knew this five year block was, one, over, and two, this project would carry me the rest of my life,” Frame said.

The project, titled “The Tale of the Crippled Boy,” is run solely by Frame and his son-in-law. It has required them to put in 18 to 24 hour work days and 35 individual characters and 12 minutes of personally scored music have been produced. The fully articulated characters, ranging from three to 32 inches tall, are hand-carved from basswood and crafted with found objects.

After watching the film, freshman Trevor Pereyda said the sculptures surprised him.

“They’re so different, they’re not what I expect. They make me think,” Pereyda said.

Part one of the film,“Three Fragments of a Lost Tale,” is a collection of animated and live vignettes, each one capable of standing on its own as a piece of artwork. It is a non-linear narrative encompassing the themes of  both loss and discovery.

“Three Fragments of a Lost Tale” has been accepted into several film festivals including the Northwest Animation Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. Yet, whenever Frame shows his “in medias res” film, he said he feels out of place.

“I sense I have a great deal of ground to cover before it will be able to stand on its own in the film world,” Frame said.

Part two of the film project is currently in the studio and will be the next installment of the overarching project, “The Tale of the Crippled Boy.” The project brings together art, music, poetry, and film, embodying the multidimensionality of Frame’s work.

“We have art to talk about things which every other type of language is not adequate,” Frame said.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Terrain event brings local artists, musicians

Sculptures next to paintings, poetry readings next to short films, photography next to graffiti, all accompanied by the sound of live musical artists. Terrain 5 continued its growing legacy as an art smorgasbord in downtown Spokane on Oct. 5.

Terrain, a one night only annual art show that began in 2008, showcases local artists in an attempt to link them with Spokane’s art establishment, putting industry professionals and upcoming artists in the same room. Since it began, Terrain has introduced more than 120 local artists to more than 14,000 art enthusiasts, according to Terrain’s website.

Terrain works in collaboration with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Pacific Northwest Inlander and the Garland Theater. Terrain 5 was voted the third best art organization by the Inlander.

The event holds a vast variety of multimedia art, each one selected by a jury made up of members of the local art circle, according to Terrain’s website. This year, Terrain boasted 13  musical artists, including the Terrible Buttons, Ocnotes and Velella Velella.

The show incorporated three floors of works, ranging from oil pastels to installation pieces made of old circuit boards and unrecognizable pieces of scrap.

“I thought it was really neat how you could go to both extremes of very different art,” Spokane Community College student Naslund Rush said. “It was interesting how they separated genres by floors and rooms.”

Each floor’s walls were lined with pieces from different artists, each one utilizing very different art techniques. The music of local bands wafted through the rooms and halls of the Music City Building. Brick walls, naked beams and colored lighting accented the artwork. All this came together to produce a setting unique to Terrain, a setting that spoke to the Spokane art scene.

Terrain 5 also included the “Literary Park,” a section of floor covered in real grass and a small stage, with usable swings and a hammock hanging from the rafters. Several local poets, including Whitworth students, shared their work to the crowd of people lounging on the grass and swings.

Whitworth senior August Sheets shared several of his works.

”It was exciting and nerve racking, but it’s a very chill environment,” Sheets said.

The crowd at Terrain 5 is just as colorful and diverse as the artwork, with no admission fee and no semblance of the subdued atmosphere typical of an art show.

“It’s a lot more urban that I was expecting,” art enthusiast and Terrain first timer Chad Shayotovich said. “The art sort of has that antagonized adolescent feel.”

The eclectic pounding of the variety of art could, at times, be overwhelming, but the crowd fed off this energy, creating an atmosphere unlike other art exhibits.

“There is so much good artwork, and with a crowd like this, I hope it keeps on,” Sheets said.

Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Flow arts take hula hooping to new level

Local performance artists host movie premiere event to benefit at-risk youth

The Visual Vortex Spin Collective has made a name for themselves over the past four years as a local talented group of performance artists. Now, they are looking to give back to the community under the name of their spin-off group, Spo Flo.

The Hooping Life,” a documentary that follows the sometimes-chaotic lives of eight professional hula hoopers, had its Spokane premiere hosted by the Visual Vortex Spin Collective at the downtown Magic Lantern Theatre this past Sunday. Fire-spinners, hula-hoop artists and jugglers decorated Sprague Avenue, giving demonstrations and introductory classes.

All of the proceeds from the event went to SPEAR (Serving People through Entertainment, Art and Recreation), a local non-profit that helps at-risk youth in the West Sprague neighborhood.

Stefani VanDeest, co-founder of the Visual Vortex Spin Collective, said she was inspired to host the event after hosting several summer workshops with SPEAR. Speaking from experience about the hardships of her own adolescence, VanDeest said she can sympathize with many of the teens that SPEAR works to help.

For more than 40 years, SPEAR has provided kids ages four to 18 with a safe place to play, do homework and eat dinner. SPEAR also runs a food bank, a clothing bank and helps supply low-income families with general goods.

VanDeest said she hopes the event will encourage local youth to become involved in the flow arts, the collective term for hula-hooping, juggling, poi (swinging tethered weights at high speeds, usually while on fire) and contact juggling.

VanDeest said she believes today’s youth could benefit from the physical and spiritual peace that comes from the flow arts. VanDeest said the core philosophy behind it is a unity between mind and body.

“You just become so immersed in the movement that you become it,” VanDeest said.

VanDeest started Visual Vortex with two friends in 2008 as a “hoop troupe,” the technical term for a group of hula-hoopers. Visual Vortex has since evolved into a well-rounded “spin collective,” incorporating poi, gymnastics, juggling, contact juggling and staff spinning.

In 2010, VanDeest and her fellow flow artists began Spo Flo, a weekly gathering at Emerson Park where people could come and participate in the flow arts community.

VanDeest and her fellow performers earn a living booking events and hosting private lessons.

The weekly gatherings usually open with yoga, as people trickle in from the street carrying a wide assortment of “flow arts” tools — hula hoops, poi, staffs, bowling pins and contact juggling balls.

It isn’t the type of hula-hooping one might expect to see on the playground. The concert of hoops move hypnotically around the waist, then down around the knees, and then up into the air for a spin before seamlessly moving back into rhythm.

While people are encouraged to practice with the tools available, many are content to sit at benches and on blankets. Their conversations are warm and lively as they watch the performance unfold.

It’s the Spo Flo community that has helped Brooke Hatch, a member of two years, through an enormous transformation.

Hatch first met VanDeest in January of 2011. Hatch was struggling through a “toxic relationship” and a lifelong battle with obesity. After many unsuccessful attempts, VanDeest finally convinced Hatch to learn the art of hooping.

“It just kind of got me out of my box,” Hatch said.

Hatch started hooping for just half an hour a day to her record player, and attending the Wednesday night Spo Flo gathering at the park. Two years later, 60 pounds lighter and with a brighter outlook on life, Hatch attributes her metamorphosis to the support of the Spo Flo community. Hatch considers the Spo Flo group part of her family — a family that she hopes will grow.

“I want other people to be able to come and get involved, because of how positive it’s been for me, [to] just be in flow, and not think about all the craziness of your day,” Hatch said.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

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Falling into ‘mythical landscapes’ with Ben Moss

Whitworth’s Bryan Oliver gallery is hosting a new art exhibit by Ben Frank Moss titled “Mythical Landscapes.” Moss, a Whitworth alumnus, has been working in art since 1956. Throughout his career he has seen brutality in the world and drastic changes in the art community.

“Beauty is a bad word today,” said Moss on these changes. “Violence is shocking and gets your attention.”

Moss’ work in “Mythical Landscapes” is a return to beauty and invention. Those whose focus is not in an artistic area might hear “landscape painting” and think of pretty mountains and valleys, or of postcards on the refrigerator. Moss’ exhibit is much more than that. The works are not representations of a world we already know.

When asked where his works were painted Moss said, “This business of mythical, that is very intentional.”

Moss has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Whitworth University and Boston University, along with the Charles Loring Elliott Award and Medal for Drawing. He has also received membership in the National Academy of Design and Christians in the Visual Arts.

Besides being an accomplished artist, Moss was also a professor in the art department at Dartmouth College, retiring in 2008. During his teaching career, he instructed Whitworth art department chair Gordon Wilson.

“We had as much of his time as we wanted,” Wilson said. “Less, not more, he was very good at pointing that out.”

With some of Moss’ paintings being the size of a postcard, he is certainly able to fit more into less.

“He was abstract but recognizable to everyone’s experience; he lets the viewer do a lot of the imagining,”  said sophomore Ashton Skinner.

The exhibit will be open until Nov. 2.

Story by Luke Eldredge Staff Writer

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Spokane arts magazine launches

From Garland to Brownes Addition, Union District to Downtown, the Spokane arts scene has a lot to offer, and “Muse and the Mode” is itching to let people know about all of it.

Spokane’s newest arts and culture magazine, “Muse and the Mode,” held a release party for its latest issue last Saturday night. “Gothmas: The Red and Black Ball,” was a classic noir affair right out of the 1920s, featuring bands The Lions Oh My and Mirror Mirror.

Muse, a full-color, bimonthly periodical, includes features on the city’s artists, musicians and fashion designers — all 100 percent local.

“We want our magazine to read like you’re sitting in a coffee shop, telling your friend about a concert you went to,” said co-editor of Muse Sherry Miller.

For them, the emphasis is not on genres and statistics; it’s about getting to know the artists and what they’re about, said Bowie Zoe, co-creator, editor and creative director of Muse.

“Katelyn [Eyford, co-creator] and I were extremely upset that no one covered the Cash-Mob at Glamarita,” Zoe said, referring to the remarkable success story of one of their favorite local businesses.

Glamarita Clothing and Accessories is a clothing shop located in the Garland District that sells 100 percent locally made, one-of-a-kind items. Last March, they were weeks away from closing their doors for good. In a last ditch effort to save the business, they planned a “Cash-Mob,” an event where locals swarm a local business en masse, and flood it with income. And the result?

“Not only did they meet [their goal], they trumped it, “ Zoe said. “And despite contacting every major news outlet in Spokane, no one touched it.”

The event wasn’t attended by a single member of the press. That night, two things became clear for the would-be creators of Muse: that Spokane had a lot of love to show for its arts community and a need for someone to give that community a voice.

And just like that, “Muse and the Mode” was born, dedicated solely toward what’s current in Spokane arts and culture with no news, politics, or sports. The first issue, “Cash-Mob,” was dedicated to giving the Glamarita event the coverage they felt it deserved.

Local distributors of the magazine ran out of copies within the first three days. When Muse redistributed the paper two weeks later, most distributors’ supply didn’t even last a day.

In response, Muse has embraced online methods of publishing. Issues are available online for just $2 an issue. Muse also features built-in support for Layar, an augmented reality application for smartphones, available on the Apple and Android Market. With the app, readers are able to use the cameras on their smartphones to access hyperlinks, extra articles and additional graphics.

While they’ve experienced great success already, the staff at Muse have big dreams for the future, and hope to inspire others in turn.

“We want this to be the magazine that people look at and say, ‘Hey, these are local people doing this,” Miller said. “High school kids and college kids look at these bands, and say, ‘Those are all local kids. I can do this, too.’”

“Muse and the Mode” is currently accepting submissions for art, writing, fashion design and anything else creative and local. If you would like to submit to “Muse and the Mode,” or if you know a local artist who you think should be featured in the next issue, you can contact the editors on the magazine’s website.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

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