Sunday, March 10, 2013


I’m not afraid to admit: art doesn’t always make sense to me. When attending a showing or looking at a display, sometimes it takes effort, but eventually I'll find something to appreciate. Sometimes it takes absolutely no effort and I fall in love with a piece the instant I see it.

Terrain was unfortunately neither of those for me this year.

A bigger space, more artists and less than a handful of things that stood out in the least. One showing that did catch my attention happened to be named “Ape Sh!t Show” very aptly fitting in retrospect. I personally felt the show overall was much too dark and bland- the type of art that’s trying too hard to be art- like the punk kid trying on 14 different outfits to make sure he’s punk enough. The night was a long boring blur featuring an overpowering lack of color, hope, inspiration and originality on the whole. The show was a tremendous let down in the broadest level.

The third floor featured the same slit-your-wrist bad poetry that can be heard at any gathering of more than two angst ridden teenagers anywhere about town, a live drawing demonstration (which I never did see actually happen), a smattering of blase' photography and, shoved in a neglected back corner, the few truly creative submissions: short films. The second floor featured a grey-scale rainbow of art work and photography that reached an over-saturated common theme of "uniquely different" several years ago and the first floor featured one band after another of the same post-Nirvana unintelligible garage band noise that Spokane refuses to break away from. At the end of the night the only thing I was excited about was getting home to take my shoes off.

On a more specific level, there were a few pieces that did catch my attention and showed a little bit of flavor- the above mentioned Ape Sh!t Show being one of them. One fun, vibrant bright spot in the night, the four piece Ape Sh!t photos taken around downtown superimposed a King Kong sized ape enjoying a brew atop the Steam Plant, window shopping in the third floor windows of River Park Square, taking in the sights from the Parkade, etc. Aside from the whimsy, the photos layering caught my eye, made me wonder how they pieced together the art work to make the pictures look real; unless they actually were and I missed the news clip about a giant ape in an awesome 70’s jacket running around downtown. The set was unique, different and colorful in a room full of bland.

Another piece that caught my attention was an installment piece by Brent Schneider of six skate decks assembled together painted candy colored blue, red and green with three old school Nintendo 8-bit black/grey pictures made out of keyboard keys: a Nintendo controller, Mario jumping, and a Mario mushroom. Being a child of 80’s it was a cool nostalgic piece to look at. Beyond nostalgia, the work that went into making the pictures out of various colors of keyboard keys was flat out impressive.

A brilliant Dr. Seuss-ish knife sharpener/whisk machine and two great short films round out all the art that caught my attention. Five pieces (sets) in a three story art exhibit; more than slightly disappointing.

I will point out again though: art is subjective and a different experience for every person. Terrain's show this year wasn’t my thing. It’s ok and it happens sometimes. Some days you want to take everything home, some days you can't understand why anyone would take any of it home. The majority of people loved the show, many pieces of art had sold stickers, the bands, I'm sure, all garnered new followers. The event on a whole, while not my particular cup of tea this go round, was well organized, well attended, and did not lack at all in the number of submissions and participants. It's great to see an event that opens its doors for so many artists to have a chance to be on display in Spokane. Terrain is a much needed and much appreciated yearly event that should be on everyone's calendar simply for the experience.

As important as it is to open your mind to art, it is equally important to be able to say sometimes it’s just not your taste. That is the beautiful thing about art- there are so many different types, levels, styles and colors, there’s always more to see and another opportunity to find something you love. Last year was an unforgettable experience for some people, this year may have been for others. Maybe next year will be mine.