The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.

The Easterner

The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.

The Easterner

The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.

The Easterner

Spokane art gallery displays culmination of EWU artist’s work


Photo Credit: Marshall Peterson, Photographer/Gallery Owner

Acquire a piece of Eastern Washington University history at Marmot Art Space’s artwork showcase of Professor Emeritus Ruben Trejo on February 2nd.

Ruben Trejo was an art professor at Eastern Washington University for 30 years, and co-founded the Chicano Education Program at the college in 1977. 

“Cheney is a predominantly white, farming town,” said Marshall Peterson, EWU alumni and museum curator. “And he created a space for Chicano people there in the 1970s.”

In fact, when Trejo arrived at EWU, he led a week-long student sit-in at the President’s office in support of Latino students.

“He built connections with people, and truly cared about them,” Peterson said. “The Chicano Studies Program started with sitting down with students and connecting over some coffee.”

Sadly, Ruben Trejo passed away in 2009 from myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder, but the connections he built continue to live on.

“I met Ruben through his art,” Peterson said. “Like most artists, their art survives them. But his son, Jose, works really hard to keep his father’s legacy alive. His dad would be so proud of him.”


Ruben Trejo’s son, Jose Trejo


Peterson has a stool in his studio, given to him by Jose, that Ruben used while creating many of his pieces.

“He spent 30 years at Eastern creating,” Peterson said. “If I had to describe it, I’d call it jaw-dropping. It’s definitely not ‘normal.’”

Trejo’s art repertoire is diverse to say the least, including sculptures made of bronze, mixed media on canvas, and wood carvings. “He did everything, it’s all very original,” Peterson said. “Who would even think of making a bronze sculpture of bananas?”


Bananas Verdes


In addition to Trejo’s history at EWU, Marshall Peterson, photographer and owner/curator of Marmot Art Space, is also an alumni of the university.

“I graduated from Eastern with a degree in political science and then got my teaching certificate,” Peterson said. “I wanted to change the world.”

Although Peterson didn’t pursue a career as a politician or professor, he is still determined to make a difference.

“Marmot is a commercial, or a professional gallery, and it’s one of only two in Spokane as far as I’ve found,” Peterson said. “Mid-sized cities like Spokane don’t have a generational buying history of fine art.”

Peterson was determined to change that after traveling the world for his art career.

“I spent a decade in Mexico as an artist, and then lived in Berlin, which is so saturated in art and artists it can be hard to stand out,” Peterson said. “I moved back to Spokane because my mother is getting older. [Marmot Art Space] is a labor of love and collaboration.”

Marmot Art Space will begin showing Trejo’s artwork for First Friday on Feb. 2nd. “Since we’ve opened, we’ve committed to participating in the First Fridays,” Peterson said.

Marmot Art Space is located at 1202 W Summit Pkwy in Spokane, and has two blue wooden lawn chairs in front to garner visibility. The gallery will be open to the public on Feb 2. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., but is otherwise open by appointment by contacting Marshall Peterson at (509) 270-5804.


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