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Walking through memories

by Elena Johnson
| May 19, 2020 11:58 AM

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

I didn’t expect this month’s Virtual Art Walk to inspire much in me.

If anything, I expected to be disappointed. After years of attending in person, the thought of relying on pictures and videos instead of the milling throng of art appreciators just didn’t excite.

It’s hard for a screen to capture the beauty an artwork has ‘in the flesh’.

Texture is pretty much obliterated. Colors are less likely to hum or pop. And whatever it is about art that makes you feel something seems to be camera-shy, evading reproduction.

One of the highlights of this monthly downtown event is its openness.

It’s a meeting ground for connoisseurs and those who’ve never so much as sniffed at a paintbrush to come together and appreciate local art.

(I am fairly certain sniffing paint brushes is not a common technique, but who knows what actually takes place when the Muse is at work?)

But without “walking” to see the art in person, reactions of other first-timers and long-time art-lovers aren’t so abundantly available.

So anyway, I wasn’t anticipating this Art Walk as eagerly as I usually do.

It’s a testament to the Coeur d’Alene Arts and Culture Alliance and our community, that I ate my fears.

Video walking tours of local galleries, shops, and exhibits brought an unanticipated human touch to the virtual visits.

Personal reactions and posted comments, such as “Oh, my daughter would love this!”

particularly from the virtual tour of The Art Spirit Gallery, gave it a more ‘realistic’ gallery experience.

The real treat, however, were the displays of work from Spirit’s inventory, individually curated by staff members.

While breathing a little life and attention into these hibernating pieces, it showcased the artistry of the gallery’s crew.

Aside from enjoying the staff’s creativity, it brought back a fond memory of another art tour when I was permitted into the inner sanctum (more likely known as the storage area in Spirit’s basement) by the late Steve Gibbs.

I don’t know how we lucked into it, but my mother and I were offered a private tour, and memory (or maybe just the part of the brain that makes up what we forget) suggests Gibbs, the gallery’s founder, was motivated simply by the fact that I hadn’t seen it before and had expressed an interest in art and curation.

My mother tends to charm people, however[SP1] , and is good at asking for things when it comes to her children, so maybe that was the more likely cause.

The storage space felt like a cave of wonders, walking into the dark, cool space and being surrounded by heaps of colored canvas – to the extent that politely stored groupings of canvas can look like heaps.

Gibbs pulled out one work after another, giving brief biographies of each artist, stories from exhibits and other tidbits.

Thanks to him, we must have escaped the real world for over an hour, happily lost in this below-surface world of artistic imagination.

Seeing what may have been some of the same pieces – or their neighbors – lovingly put on display at the gallery, was more of an emotional trigger than I expected from a lighthearted, eight-minute tour.

I can’t promise you’ll find a deep-seated fond memory of art ghosts past, but I can heartily recommend May’s Virtual Art Walk, available at Artsandculturecda.org/virtualartwalk.

Thanks to the Arts and Culture Alliance for proving me wrong.