Terrain: Spokane’s creative kaleidoscope


Photo by Jessica Hawley

Gummy bear photograph is one of the many art pieces at Terrain.

By Alla Drokina, Staff Writer

The outside of the warehouse looks abandoned, but there is plenty of action inside. People are coming and going, tools are strewn about, art installations are pieced together and several dust pans are lying around.

The preparation is for Terrain, an art exhibit showcasing a kaleidoscope of local creativity that includes music, spoken word poetry, dance and an assortment of art pieces. On Oct. 3, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Terrain opened its doors for its seventh annual event.

This year, Terrain is in its new permanent building, the Washington Cracker Co. It featured 255 works of art, 142 artists and 10 bands. Entry is free for all.

Terrain is set to be an ongoing event; the warehouse will become a music venue and a year-round space for Terrain art exhibits.

Since its creation, Terrain has provided a way for emerging artists to expose their talent and help build connections with other artists in the area, but even those who may not be artists helped make Terrain possible.

Luke Baumgarten, one of the original coordinators and founders of Terrain, was surprised by the influx of volunteers offering to help for the opening.

“They come from all walks of life. We’ve had state senators and gutter-punk kids working the door for us. An assistant principal and his wife who’s a nurse were literally pulling weeds in the parking lot last night,” said Baumgarten. “Two young homeless dudes enjoyed Bazaar so much they helped us clean up afterward. It’s crazy.”

Although there are many volunteers helping with Terrain, there is a main force behind it. Baumgarten, Ginger Ewing and Patrick Kendrick are the original coordinators of Terrain. Baumgarten deals with the public relations aspect of Terrain, Ewing specializes in the visual art department and Kendrick handles the music arena. Diego Sanchez started out as a committed volunteer and now is a volunteer coordinator and organizer.

The vision for Terrain began when Baumgarten, Ewing and a few of their friends were fed up with seeing numerous people they were close to leave Spokane for cities that they felt provided more artistic opportunities for them. The exasperation ignited an idea.

“The amazing thing is that the vision has come as much from the community as from any of us. Artists and patrons have had really incredible feedback and ideas that have led us to create a bunch of the programming we do,” Baumgarten said. “Bazaar, the event we started in June came completely out of conversations with young artists about what they need in Spokane.”

Terrain’s main website states: “The dream was to put young artists and experienced industry professionals in the same room — to connect them and to start a conversation. Terrain would be an art exhibition and a networking function — a debutante ball at a rock concert.”

“It’s a lot of hard work putting this event on and 99 percent of the people who come to the event have no idea the amount of labor and love that goes into putting it on. I just love seeing it all come together and love their passion for what they do,” said Joel Barbour, contributing artist in previous years and founder of The Great PNW clothing company located in Spokane.

According to Baumgarten, Terrain is about building community and built by community.

“I think the most rewarding thing is the artist reception night, when we are standing in front of a room filled with incredibly talented and dedicated people, and just feeling like I had a small part in honoring them,” Ewing said.

Countless art pieces are submitted for the chance to be part of Terrain. A team of five jurors selects which pieces will be showcased. Jurors range from professional artists in the area to local professors. The process comprises three rounds and majority vote rules. This year over 1,000 art pieces were submitted and over 60 bands applied.

“The submissions are different every year, obviously, but the jurors are, too, so in addition to the artists’ voices, we get a little of the jurors preferences and opinions about art as well. It’s an interesting dialogue,” said Baumgarten.

Terrain does not adhere to any kind of cohesive theme in its art selection. It displays a diverse collection: graffiti and watercolor can be seen in proximity to one another as well as distinct materials used for installations, such as paper, wood or furniture.

Although the artwork and performances for Terrain have varied year by year, Barbour believes Terrain has been consistent in its ways.

“I don’t feel Terrain has changed much over the years. … it has always stayed true to showcasing the best of local art. I think the biggest thing is how much Terrain has changed Spokane,” said Barbour.