By Justin Scott
Illuminated on the grain-colored walls, a bright blue and yellow horse and young rider race across an aged government document in hot pursuit of three colts. The soft pink clouds above echo the form of the sprinting horse, emphasizing the significance of the ancient story behind this painting. A second painting shows a regal Native American woman in traditional garb mounted upon a majestic purple steed.The energy and emotion are palpable in these vibrant offerings done by local artist George Flett. His collection appears just one month in the Tinman Gallery.
Once February rolls around, the ever-evolving Tinman will change for the next local artist. Underneath Flett's paintings are shelves filled with everything from current fiction to art history texts.
Tinman employee Mallory Schuyler has seen the Garland District store adapt since she started work nearly three years ago.
"We are definitely not your traditional white box art gallery," Schuyler said. "We've really had to grow into our concept."
The Tinman Gallery opened its doors in February 2003 and began hosting open community events each month, including regular artist receptions. The Tinman makes critically acclaimed local artists accessible to the larger community, Schuyler said. As part of having his or her works displayed at Tinman, each artist does at least one workshop that is open to the public. Artist George Flett held a workshop that gave participants a chance to create their own ledger art painting to take home. February's feature artist Ruben Trejo is taking a different approach. During his exhibit, the gallery space will be changed into Trejo's personal studio, while the upper portion of the store will be re-arranged into Trejo's gallery showing. Flexibility and creativity in staging is evident not only in the gallery arrangements.
The Tinman gallery is not only a contemporary space for local artists to display their work, but it is also the place Spokane resident Catherine Creer goes when she is in search for a good book.
"I've been coming to Tinman since the very beginning," said Creer, who enjoys browsing Tinman's collection of fiction books and jewelry.
Tinman's independent bookstore section boasts one of Spokane's largest selections of art books. The shelves are packed with everything from museum catalogs to classic art history volumes. The gallery also features a healthy collection of current fiction and non-fiction books accompanied by a colorful section for children's books. The Tinman Book Club meets here once a month and The Tin Pencil, a fiction writers group, gathers twice a month. Writers come to this meeting of the minds to read their work as well as offer constructive critiques for other budding Spokane area writers.
"We are trying to become the neighborhood bookstore," said Schuyler, one of The Tin Pencil's founding members. "There's always something new to come and see and it's a great place to come and be inspired."