Picture this an art gallery after hours downtown Coeur D’Alene, it is October 20th, 2022, outside leaves blanket the pavement and the weather is turning cold. There are charcoal artists, oil painters, sculpture artists, pastel artists, dancers, theater artists, directors, humanity instructors all meeting together with the goal to discuss the artist process and network, comforted by wine and cheese, inspired by artist’s opening their hearts, motivated by the thought provoking questions, and invigorated by the overwhelming thought that we have a shared experience transcending medium.
This was the first Artist Salon held at the Art Spirit Gallery. What is an Artist Salon? Max Mendez, director of choirs at North Idaho College, refers to it as a “think tank” for artists. Its genesis was to intersect any medium of artistry; Creating a safe, vulnerable space to explore, question, and engage in the art of thought. All this in the hopes of creating a thriving artistic community, fostering collaboration, and networking, and forming new concepts, ideas, philosophies that can inform, inspire, and motivate new work in the inland northwest. Rocky Owns, senior director of Lewis and Clark State College, articulates “I believe that the representation of so many different artists and professionals in attendance added full dimension to the conversation” and “I was also pleased to see that everyone felt comfortable and engaged with sharing their special niche in the arts and that there was not always agreement about what exactly defined “art” and how to look at art.” Duncan Clark Menzies, The Art Spirit Gallery events manager and the event’s facilitator exclaims, “The multiple points of view offer me contrast and refinement of my own perspectives and a well-rounded view around art and around my artists' process, but moreover this space has offered me the freedom to express my art more confidently and new idea babies that I need to work out.”
The Art Spirit Gallery celebrates its 25 anniversary this year. The gallery’s original owner, Steve Gibbs, established a space to present the region's best artists but also helped establish community programming that celebrates arts in Coeur d’Alene like ArtWalk and ???. In this spirit, The Art Spirit Gallery has prided themselves as being a community hub for the arts and passionate about educating the community on the power of arts, the great artists of our area, and a space to be amused by and inspired to talk about art. It is in this vein and history that make The Art Spirit Gallery an ideal environment to facilitate such creative thought as in An Artist Salon. The history and legacy of the gallery combined with the ever changing monthly curated exhibitions offer a backdrop that muses Artist Salons attendees. It primes them for engaging discussion on process, or inspiring conversation on concepts, or heart open sharing on our own related experience to topics explored and art seen.
The Art Spirit Gallery is coined after the famous arts educator and prolific artist Robert Henri, whose work inspired the American school of art and produced the greatest American artists of his time. The term reminds us of the mystery of art and the inner mysterious drive to create. He says, “There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge." The Art Spirit Gallery is a sign-post for the Coeur d'Alene community and facilitates these moments of seeing beyond the usual through community programming like an Artist Salon, their excellent curated monthly exhibitions, and passion for education.