Saturday, July 8, 2017

First Friday Spokane: Hypothesis at the Richmond Art Collective

Last night, we took part in Spokane's monthly First Friday art tour by visiting the show Hypothesis held by Spokane's Richmond Art Collective. Our friend Ira Gardner is a member of the collective and was showing some of his recent photography, so we wanted to learn what his mind has been up to behind the lens.

The Richmond Art Collective uses a small gallery in the space behind Spaceman Coffee, on Sprague. Above the gallery are art studios where the artists do their work. The show was well attended, and the space added a heat and energy to the experience of meeting the artists' work, which ranged from photography to sculpture to installation to painting. The arts potluck nature of the gathering provided a little something for everyone and couldn't help, I imagine, but cause interesting discussions afterward. Next to each piece was a short background of the work and what the artist is exploring. These were written well, and helped attach the artist's questioning experience in a way that was interesting and not didactic or patronizing. Ira said that one of the ideas behind the show, or driving it, is for the artists to share their work with each other and every three months, share their work again, and start affecting each other's work by this sharing. Hypothesis. Transformation. How? In what way? How fundamental these words are to art and seemed clearly underlying the work chosen for the show. It will be interesting to see how the work starts intersecting as time passes because the artists all seem unlike one another, not in their questioning, but in the way they question through their mediums.

Ira Gardner showed two pieces, both black and white still-lifes of a leaf and pine branch. The lighting and placement of the pieces transformed the pieces into a kind of metal sculpture that blurred both the medium and the viewer's relationship to nature. Are we looking at a photograph of a sculpture of a leaf or a leaf? Is there a difference? Is the leaf both art object and sculpture? It made me wonder about meditative space, and what kind of mental silence art automatically creates by the fact of itself for the viewer. Perhaps something like the white space on a page for poets, the darkness that falls between scenes of a film, or the silence of the ellipses that Samuel Beckett used to his advantage and turned into a tool of transformation.

This quiet space that art itself brings with it had been on my mind because of the conversation that happened on the drive to the gallery. We were explaining to our three-year old why people would be more quiet than usual at the art gallery.
Why? he said.
Because, I said--trying to think it through myself--Because in our culture, people have a tendency to be quiet as a sign of reverence. Like in the library, people are quiet around the books because they appreciate the books. The books are important to them.
A few beats later, I remembered concentration. Everyone moving along the walls, looking and thinking.
And concentration, I said. We are quiet so we can think about what we are looking at.

And we were. Everyone moving around each other to get to the art. Stepping back, stepping forward. Our bodies turning into sculptures themselves that we moved around, giving each other space and silence, and the quiet goodness of seeing people we knew amidst the art, and then the space transforming somehow to allow us to speak, and then return to the meditative as we separated and became different versions of ourselves again. As though caught by light, made central in the eye of another, and then let go.

Richmond Art Collective
228 West Sprague
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