Beads of sweat acted like glue, sticking shirts to skin. People patted their foreheads with napkins while admiring a variety of art at the White House Event Center on Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.
Here Emerge, a local arts collective, hosted its annual Pop-Up Show for the Coeur d’Alene Art Walk.
While a handful of patrons mingled with plates of cheeses at Emerge’s main gallery on Fourth Street, heat rose through all three floors of the White House.
Emerge Board Chair Jennifer Drake said the fifth annual fundraiser for Emerge exposes the community to new, different artists. Lasting from 5 p.m. to midnight, the event had a huge crowd at every hour.
“This a free event that is for every member of the community,” she said. “It’s very relaxed in the beginning and gets more raucous as the night goes on—we accommodate for all different types of crowds.”
Featured in a different location every time, like Wiggett’s Antique Marketplace or the former Sports Cellar, Drake’s favorite event of the year took five months of weekly meetings.
“Every year is totally different,” Drake said. “This is the first we haven’t been in an open, commercial space. Figuring out how to set up the three different stories and the outdoor space was something new and exciting.”
Each level of the White House captured a different artistic environment—what Drake explained as the epitome of “something for everyone.”
To be featured in the show, Drake said the artists submitted their pieces to a jury comprised of different members each year. Members included local business owners, established artists and art appreciators. The jurors judged the pieces anonymously, picking pieces based on merit and not name recognizability. Drake said the judging process tacks on an additional one to two hours every year. This year, it took the panel over nine hours to select the final pieces.
Not limited to medium, experience or age, 90 artists submitted their work, and 57 were selected for the show—amounting to 150 different pieces.
“This truly is a ‘for one night only’ event,” Drake said. “For some artists, this is their first show. The pieces you see here have never been seen in galleries.”
Outside: The hub for eating, drinks and rocking out
Punk rock music could be heard from the post office on Sixth Street to Roger’s Ice Cream and Burgers, between 12th and 13th streets. Walking through the White House’s iron gate, visitors were greeted by a row of motorcycles and a long line to a food truck housing Spokane’s Incrediburger.
Groups of people huddled on the grass to see Traveling T screen print T-shirts with classic Coeur d’Alene views. After a cup of beer or a $5 pair of sunglasses, guests sat down at white plastic tables or on blankets in the grass. Six local bands, including Summer in Siberia and Hobo Hangout, performed on the outdoor stage throughout the evening. A few women were inspired by the music to dance interpretively in front of the stage—which they did for several hours.
When the audience got too restless from sitting, they wandered to the henna tattoo booth or the interactive story-telling booth set up a like a hip meditating space at an outdoor music festival.
Tarin Leach, a local artist and a volunteer with Emerge since the first Pop-Up show, hosted the story-telling booth to illustrate the power of collaborative art projects.
Each passerby wrote a sentence on a flashcard, seeing the sentence from the person before them. Hanging above the booth’s entrance was the first card: “The smoke floated toward the dark sky into nothingness.”
Eventually, the cards will be connected to form a story unique to those who stopped by the booth.
“Participants will be part of someone else’s story,” Leach said. “Just like in life, you’ll bump into someone new and think nothing of it. This is a conscious act of being involved in someone’s life for a brief moment.”
While a small collection of ceramic gnomes stared at them, over 70 people took part in what Leach called a social sculpture.
“It started in the 1960s as a way to get the community involved in art,” she said. “Social sculpture is all about engineering social situations to create a small community to better the bigger community. Art doesn’t follow, it promotes the change.”
Past a huge metal depiction of Emerge’s logo hanging in the White House’s carport, Scott Lakey and Jeremy Deming of the ArtCoLab painted a mural for locals to engage with their art.
The front lawn housed another collaborative art project where guests learned how to make origami creatures from silver and gold paper. They were then instructed to write a wish on the paper, glue it to a metal stake, and push it into the grass in the front lawn.
Collecting the wishes later, volunteers described it as “a space where together we bring to life the wishes of our community in a fun and tangible way.”
First Floor: A deep breath
Once their senses were completely satisfied by food, drink, dancing and crafting, guests made it to the entrance of the house—greeted by people sitting on the banisters of the front deck and giant papier-mâché sculptures of a pair of glasses and a box of French fries hanging from the windows.
Crammed into the first floor, patrons studied sci-fi-themed pen drawings by local tattoo artist Christina Villagomez, a beer bottle lamp by Marcella Stoddard, and a Mona Lisa made from garbage by Luke Westfalia.
With ages ranging from 15 to 70, the artists were as diverse as the pieces themselves.
One of the younger artists, 16-year-old Nadia Luhring, had her oil painting hanging in the front room -- a heavily shadowed image of a crying boy. Many patrons stopped by to get lost in the emotion of the piece.
Instead of entering several pieces, Luhring said she felt more confident just entering one piece she was really proud of.
“I taught myself how to paint,” she said. “This show was my trial run. I thought, ‘If I can get into this, I can do it. I can be an artist.’”
Luhring said she is thankful to Emerge for giving her and other more inexperienced artists a chance to show their work for the first time.
“A lot of people have looked at my painting, but I’m just crossing my fingers to see a red sticker on it,” Luhring said. “If it sells, I’m going to buy more materials for another painting.”
Although a few pieces were not for sale, many pieces had red stickers on their nameplates by the end of the night, indicating they had been sold.
Second Floor: Breakdancing, bodypainting and black lights–oh my!
Up the stairs was a totally different environment than that down below.
A troupe of local break-dancers, Spokane’s Tangled Roots, flipped backward and spun on their heads with a background of glow-in-the-dark abstract art illuminated by blacklights. If guests got thirsty, Emerge volunteers sold cups of beer at a corner table.
One of the second-floor pieces that garnered the most attention was a collaborative piece by Emerge employees, volunteers and fans. A steampunk retelling of artistic history, the piece had a background of past artists with gear-like moving parts laid over the top.
The piece represented the meaning of both the word “emerge” and the gallery “Emerge.” Volunteers described it as “thematically represented of emerging arts and culture as well as a tribute to the contribution local and national artists make to the community.”
A labyrinth of small hallways and spaces led to a balcony where local artist Chelsea Cordova was body painting. Cordova had never body painted until Coeur d’Alene’s Mardi Gras event last year. Since then she has body painted for non-bullying campaigns and other events.
“Body paint can be therapy,” she said. “I’ve seen others paint over mastectomy patients. Personally, I would love to paint on my sister, who has an enlarged heart.”
For the Pop-Up show, Cordova painted on local yoga instructor Julianne Edwards as part of a four-person collaborative. After the painting was finished, Edwards put on a blacklight dance performance.
No aspect of the painting or the dance was planned, Edwards said. The song she danced to was picked only a few hours beforehand.
“For us, body paint is an avenue of healing through expression,” she said. “It is art on a person and a person as art. As long as our intention doesn’t change while we’re working, our purpose is still present.”
Inspired by Shakespeare and the rising of a phoenix, Cordova painted vibrant colors onto the mother of three. Although the painting required her to be in her underwear on a stage before hundreds of people, Edwards felt confident.
“I feel free, which burns away the part of me who cares,” she said. “Seeing these little girls be enamored with me is another reminder why I’m here.”
Her small audience of young girls each got a chance to have a shape painted onto them. For them, Edwards said, seeing her body painted is just an exciting extension of the face paint they get at the county fair.
The Attic: An intimate artistic connection
Those who braved the climb up a narrow staircase clogged with people were rewarded with an intimate performance area.
A projector and screen were set up to play a short suspense film “Hello, John,” by Caden Butera. Although the film played only once, the remainder of the event was filled with small, acoustic performances from local musicians. Groups of 10 or so lined the walls with cracked windows while others sat on pillows on the ground.
Acoustic and hip-hop musician Joshua Belliardo enjoyed the opportunity to play for a different set of people.
“The way the room was set up, I felt really vulnerable and emotional,” Belliardo said. “Every time I play my songs, I’m transported back to the moment I wrote them. It was really powerful to see the audience with their eyes closed, feeling every word.”
When guests traveled down the several staircases back to their cars, event chair Jennifer Drake hopes the feeling of being “a part of art” sticks with them.
“Reception for this event is great, but we are also here for the person who wakes up on a Tuesday morning and wants to look at art, volunteer or take a class,” she said. “We want to connect to people intimidated by art. We can meet them at any level so they can find their voice and become the person behind the art.”
As for the community behind the art, look no further than Coeur d’Alene.