Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Musings of an ex-gallery owner ...

I didn't really have expectations as to how the whole logistical configuration of transitioning from a brick and mortar gallery to an exclusively online art gallery would look or feel. Oh my! There is a huge difference.

Artists:  Richy Sharshan, Kay West, Megan Holden, Christina Rothe, Tracy Dupuis Roland

I think first off that it is more solitary than anticipated.

Yes, I'm still dealing with artists and their needs and questions, but it's via email or Messenger or texting. But I can't see their eyes brighten while they're texting about a new project. I can't hear the excitement in the artist's voice as their words come faster and faster about trying a new medium. There's little face-to-face interaction, other than, yes, going to art exhibits and talking with the artists at the various show venues about their concept, their story, execution of their work.

As introverted as I deem myself to be, this loss of activity and interaction enjoyed in the gallery has been unexpected. And of course it prompts me to consider generally how solitary an existence creatives lead.

I think I'll mull this over and come up with regular meet-ups in artist studios, or perhaps invite artists to periodic art salons. A problem presents that without a gallery, WHERE? There must be such gatherings in other areas. I'll have to research this and follow through, as I've heard from other artists that they, too, long for exchange of ideas and art processes, and what's going on in the art world outside of Spokane.

If anyone has suggestions or is agreeable to sharing what they are doing in their communities, I would be most appreciative. One artist to another.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking Ahead to Online Art Exhibits

Here we go! April 20th is the deadline for submissions for "Select Impressions," the first of what we hope will be many online art exhibits brought to you by Little Dog Art Gallery.

Solarplate Etching by California Printmaker Jan Harvey

There will be no more than 21 works of art exhibited in the upcoming monthly online art shows. This enables viewers a good selection of art to look at and determine their purchases, without being overwhelming.

Some of the shows slated for the brick and mortar gallery have been shelved for the time being. It's sometimes challenging to show well fiber art pieces or three dimensional works within a two dimensional context. We've worked to come up with exhibit themes and media we hope you'll find visually appealing. For the time being, each show will include the work of various artists. We may slip in some solo artists exhibits from time-to-time down the road.

The art will be available for purchase, which can be handled directly through the website, for your convenience. We hope you will provide us with feedback if you encounter any difficulties using this system, so that we might remedy such problems and make your online purchase as easy as possible.

Please fill out the Contact information on our Little Dog Art Gallery website to receive notification of change of online show.

More information to come about the May printmakers' exhibit "Select Impressions."

We hope you'll enjoy the upcoming shows as much as we've enjoyed creating them for you!

K West
Gallery Curator

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I Wonder Where THAT leads?

Isn't it a pretty walkway? I'd give photo credit if I knew who the photographer was, but I don't. Sorry.

I'm sitting in the gallery, on hand to welcome any stragglers stopping in before the doors close for good. That would be at 5 pm Tuesday. Yup! Day after tomorrow. Amazing, right? Get over here while you still can!

So, as I sit here I'm looking at walkways. Pretty. Has rather a metaphor sort of feel. Paths. Roads taken or not. Forward movement.

The gallery cactus just left, carried off on its new adventure, a new home with a dude named Clint. I snipped little bits from cactus that I'll plant and have little baby cacti. Why? Where will I put them?

It's spring, I can't help myself. Things are growing. Paths are beckoning.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Shamrocks and Shenanigans for ALL

"Leap" acrylic painting by Karen Swanson,
"Green Fields"oil painting by Megan Perkins, and
"Celtic Love III" assemblage cross by Shanda Woodward

It's Saint Patrick's Day and Garland Avenue in Spokane is getting on its Irish!

Later tonight is a Pub Crawl, that from reservations made already looks to be successful, but earlier is Little Dog Art Gallery's last art reception. The gallery show Gaelic on Garland (et cetera) is up until end of business Tuesday, March 21st. But tonight is cause for celebration, setting aside the commercial aspects of selling art, and celebrating the creativity of the artists who have shown their work here.

Looking at Karen's painting of an Irish dancer, I think of how rigidly such dancers hold their bodies from the waist up, their arms straight at their sides, hands immobile, while their legs and feet are constantly in motion with intricate stepping and leaps.

It makes me reflect on how owning and managing an art gallery is similar to Irish dancing. The public persona is cool, professional, calmly answering visitors' endless questions, providing insight in to the various artists' approaches and back stories. But the other component of the gallery dance is the blurring footwork that goes on: seeking and meeting new artists, getting their information and photos, coming up with show themes, contacting prospective and proven art buyers and collectors, making sure communication with everyone is clear, designing and hanging the artwork, shuffling business forms and reports, bookkeeping, making sure everyone receives their commission checks, endlessly coming up with publicity ideas, printing, mailing, collaborating with other galleries and art organizations, THEN all the social media to maintain with regularity.

Dance, dance, step, leap, don't fall on your face (too often), point your toe, leap, hop, even distribution of weight!

Yes, indeed! Running an art gallery keeps one on their toes, Irish or otherwise!

Eire Go Brach!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What are you going to do?

"What are you going to do when the gallery closes?"

This is probably the most asked question by friends, acquaintances, and total strangers, when they find out I'm closing Little Dog Art Gallery.

I have a whole list of ideas, projects, bucket list items from which to choose. I'm planning to maintain the Little Dog Art Gallery blog and website. The website is set up for online sales.

A year ago, the gallery was just such an idea, quickly jumped into primarily because a desirable space came available. I had a business plan, a whole city of talented artists from which to create shows and displays. I ran out of operating capital before I ran out of ideas.

Those ideas are still churning around in my head. I've made a small impact in this community, so I hope to follow through with that momentum, perhaps promoting standalone displays of artists' work in alternative venues or locations, for varying duration.

I feel the urgency to do something while the reputation the gallery has gained is still of significance in the community.  Everything moves so quickly these days. Work it or lose it.

Ideas are like bulbs,
you plant them, nurture them and see what blossoms

I don't know yet what the new day brings.
I see the promise and potential of a new daybreak.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Limbo Dance

Now that the hard decision has been made, not to continue the brick and mortar gallery for another year, there's a bit of a lull, a drop in energy, a feeling of coasting.

I went to an art reception last night at Kolva Sullivan Gallery to see the last day of curator Jennifer LaRue's show featuring the works of Ric Gendron and Karen Mobley. It was an interesting meld of totally disparate art renderings. Gendron's were vibrant with color and emotional impact. Mobley's were more intellectual studies in line and form, devoid of color. Interestingly, they worked together as a compatible show, allowing the viewer to savor different approaches.

Responding at Kolva Sullivan Gallery (photography by Jennifer LaRue)

I came away from that visual feast with a touch of sadness, in that I no longer have reason to see art other than to just see and personally experience the art. I am no longer planning ahead to future Little Dog Art Gallery exhibits, no longer need to evaluate art and artists for that purpose. A part of my persona has become seemingly defunct.

It's jarring.

An alternative way to function relative to art is imperative. Just viewing art unilaterally isn't what I want. I don't relish this solo limbo dance. Curious and excited to discover what comes next.

However, all that aside, "Gaelic on Garland (et cetera)" is coming in next Tuesday, and I do relish welcoming the art and the artists, and seeing how to mix it up resulting in a good Little Dog Art Gallery finale.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Energy of a New Exhibit

I've thoroughly enjoyed creating and mounting all ten exhibits I've put together for LITTLE DOG Art Gallery. Each one was distinctively different from the others; most had a theme, which changed each month.

I've never had a solo show for an artist. I thought I might get around to that as time progressed. I wanted to offer a variety of work to entice gallery visitors.

My favorite show was probably "Origins of Fear," a show I invited Megan Holden to curate. I sent out a call to artists, and Megan juried what came in. We had a great number of submissions, but Megan was clear about how she wanted the show to look, and was ruthless in turning aside art. She chose well.

I may have enjoyed this show best because there was incredible viewer interaction. Callahan Freet had photographs "Fabrications" of ambiguous smoke shapes and viewers were invited to write down what fearful things they saw in the smoke. It was fascinating to see all the different interpretations. The other work in "Origins of Fear" was sometimes upsetting and off-putting, like Tom Norton's "Room 208 aka Mother Please," or Joseph Tomlinson's "Wait til They're Asleep," but some dynamic came into play, where because it was portrayed in art on the wall of a gallery, a dialog opened up and people spoke openly about their own fears and experiences. It became almost a group therapy, a sharing of the experience of fear.

"Fabrications" by Callahan Freet

"Room 208 aka Mother Please" by Tom Norton

"Wait til They're Asleep" by Joseph Tomlinson

Yes, each exhibit had it's own power and identity. They were ALL incredible shows.

"Horse/Crow" is coming down February 28th, and was a vibrant and colorful exhibit. With the dreary winter weather, I hoped this showing of bright work would help dispel wintry blues. Gallery visitors have responded well to "Horse/Crow" and have enjoyed the dual features of Terry Davitt Powell's monoprints and Clancie Pleasants paintings. Both artists are strongly influenced by crows and their interpretations are distinctively different, and at the same time visually compelling. The work of these two artists, Terry Davitt Powell from California and Clancie Pleasants from Idaho, was accompanied by eight other Spokane artists' concepts of crows and horses.

The anticipation is building momentum with the end of the above show and the incoming "Gaelic on Garland (et cetera)" exhibit for March. As I'm sure you might guess, the theme of March's show is tied in with Saint Patrick's Day. The Garland District is hosting a Pub Crawl on March 17th, the same day the gallery will have their art reception.

I had anticipated the March show being specifically centered around Irish subjects, or Celtic, or Emerald Isle. However, gallery logistics have forced a different aspect to this show.

LITTLE DOG Art Gallery will not be renewing our lease in April. It's been a rather sudden decision, but one well thought out and necessary.  Regrettably this makes the March exhibit the last show, and the gallery will close April 1st.

Because there are many artists who have volunteered and supported our gallery efforts, I've invited them to at least show their work in the gallery before it closes, hence, the "et cetera." Those works will be general interest and not specific to Irish theme.

It's still exciting to plan a new show and to see how it shapes up. There will be a YA fantasy author's talk March 11th (Kate Poitevin's Saving Tir Gaeltacht), the artists' reception on March 17th, and a Celtic Henna activity with Kim Long on March 18. "Gaelic on Garland (et cetera)"  will come down and the gallery will close on March 21, 2017.

Colored Pencil Celtic Knot by Kim Long

Friday, February 17, 2017

All Around Good Luck

"Good Luck Horse" is one of the found object metal sculptures Karlene Schoedel has in "Horse/Crow" Exhibit through February at LITTLE DOG Art Gallery.  She probably made to sit on a flat surface, but I have it displayed on the wall right in front of my desk. I look up and there it is: GOOD LUCK.

I look over to the right and I see Terry Davitt Powell's monoprint "Polka Dot Mare." How lucky is that!  I glance farther right and I see "V" and "Dancing Stallions." More monoprints, more awesome luck! I look all around the gallery at the incredible visual treat of the art on walls and displayed on pedestals; so much talent.

I am so gosh darn fortunate to take in and hang new artwork each month. AND I enjoy seeing it all and sharing it with gallery visitors from the community or from other regions! Some visitors even purchase a work of art. That, too, is very fortunate.

It's fun when families come in with young children who "ooooh" and "aaaaah" at the pretty colors and shapes, and ask questions about what they see. How lucky are THEY that they have an opportunity to visit a gallery and see good artwork firsthand rather than in a magazine or a book. Lucky for our community, too, that children are being introduced to an appreciation for culture, that they will carry on with them as they become adults and leaders in our community.

Okay, so I'm off on a tangent far beyond simply looking up and seeing "Good Luck Horse." Or am I?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Victory or Defeat?

Trophy Series by Rob McKirdie
Artist and Fine Art Instructor at Spokane Falls Community College

I was quite taken with McKirdie's found object series in the exhibit currently at LITTLE DOG, addressing the significance/insignificance of trophies and how over the years they encourage and applaud excellence, or totally lose context when presented to everyone regardless of merit, just so none feel left out.

It seems to me that a healthy sense of competition is a component of survival, of striving to improve performance or production. A trophy loses significance if it is presented arbitrarily, just because.

The titles aptly convey series significance: Victory or Defeat, Triumph, Catastrophic Failure, Victorgaurus Rex.

These are comparatively small works by McKirdie. You can see other examples of his found object assemblages at his website:

So. California Monoprints Showing in Spokane

January 31 – February 28, 2017

Featuring monoprints by California artist Terry Davitt Powell and Idaho Clancie Pleasants’ acrylic paintings, plus additional works celebrating Horse and Crow by Carmen Hall, Karen Swanson, Karlene Schoedel, Ann Contois, Kay West, Kim Long, Marion Flanary, Tom Quinn and Rob McKirdie.

Terry Davitt Powell

The images I create become, for me, a framework to celebrate animals and the natural world they represent, asking the viewer to once again see the creatures represented as living individuals, rather than as the generic concepts of horse or bird communicated by the disembodied graphic imagery typically used to describe animals. That is, I seek to re-nature that which has been de-natured.

Terry Davitt Powell's statement set the tone for this showing of the many interpretations of theme. LITTLE DOG is pleased to bring art from another part of our country and introduce it to Spokane viewers.

Following are a few of the works in Horse/Crow. The rest can be seen on LITTLE DOG website at

"Polka Dot Mare" Monoprint Terry Davitt Powell

"Horse/Crow Meet" Acrylic by Clancie Pleasants
"Feather Your Nest #2" Acrylic by Linnea Tobias

"Equus" Acrylic by Kay West

A portion of the work displayed in Horse/Crow exhibit at LITTLE DOG

"The Pallid Bust of Pallas" Acrylic by Tom Quinn

More of the exhibit along a back west wall, including "There Are Crows in My Wheat Field" by Karen Swanson

"Deliberation" Monoprint by Terry Davitt Powell

Friday, January 20, 2017

Developing a Gallery Website ... With a Lot of Help from our Friends

I've been working with Spokane artist Tracy Dupuis-Roland over the last couple of months in bringing together a website for LITTLE DOG Art Gallery. Tracy has been incredibly responsive about taking my concepts and implementing them, with awesome recommendations of her own, which I've welcomed!

Webmaster Tracy

Man! Do I appreciate Tracy's speed, her innovation, and agreeability to learning new skill sets to enhance the website! The site is still being worked on, and is a little bit artist-heavy, needing more examples of the artwork in the shows. But it is live now; check it out and let me know what you think.

Reflecting on Past, Looking Ahead to Future

I've been actively engaged in building a reputation for LITTLE DOG Art Gallery as a fine art sales gallery in Spokane, Washington since May 14, 2016. I mean ACTIVELY engaged. It's a small display space, a mere 200 sq ft, with a huge front window, at 903-1/2 W Garland Avenue, next to Rocket Bakery on one side and Groove Merchants on the other.

The art exhibits change on a monthly basis, which keeps it fresh and interesting for frequent return of gallery visitors. I encourage folks to return to see new work, work of new artists, new themes and subject matter.

One of our most discussed, interactive shows was "Origins of Fear" an open call to artists show in October curated by Megan Holden. Much to my extreme delight, the subject was taken to heart and some very provocative, thought-inducing paintings, photographs, viewer interaction pieces, mixed media, 3D art, kinetic art and drawings were submitted for juror selection. Holden selected an incredible body of artwork and the show went up. Gallery visitors really looked at the work presented, and some of the images were unsettling to see or imagine, but there seemed to be a tacit understanding, or in some cases, recognition of a portrayed fear. With that show we had the viewers vote on their choice as to which work of art moved them the most. Fascinating!

Wait 'Til They Go to Sleep by Joseph Tomlinson

Room 208 aka Mother Please by Tom Norton

Loss of Family Home to Wildfire, Digital Collage by Julie and Kristen Gautier-Downes

It was with that particular show I knew my goal of presenting artwork that people could view and come away with better appreciation, challenged to think about what they saw, or inspired or encouraged to incorporate art in their daily existence, was on the right course.

Since then, we've had other shows with softer themes, featuring art by out-of-the-region artists as well as work of Spokane artists. It's provided access to art work people haven't access to in other venues in Spokane. It's been nice to have something exclusive to LITTLE DOG Art Gallery.

Looking ahead to continued growth and community interaction!