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Slightly West Artists Tour is slightly smaller

Exhibitors are down, but the talent is every bit as plentiful on ninth tour set for Nov. 24


November 22, 2018

The ninth edition of the Slightly West of Spokane Artists Studio Tour — taking place this Saturday, Nov. 24 — is featuring slightly fewer artists than in previous years.

“I have no explanation for that,” new tour coordinator Karen Simmons said. She did offer several possibilities, ranging from thinning crowds for art overall to the economy to the fact that art collecting is something the “older set does,” whereas the younger generation tends to be more “minimalist” with their decor.

“My daughter says they ‘go for experience, not for stuff,’” Simmons added.

Fewer artists means fewer stops along this year’s free, self-guided tour — but it doesn’t mean less variety or talent. A “nice blend” of eight artists will be on display at five locations, four in Medical Lake and a new stop on West Tucker Prairie Road.

The only other new aspect of this year’s tour is Simmons herself. Although she has been an exhibitor for several years, this is her first year as coordinator, taking over for long-time coordinator Janet Wilbanks who stepped down after last year’s tour.

Simmons’ work will be on display at Fresh Design Gallery and Rentals, LLC in Medical Lake, 116 N. Lefevre St. The former department secretary at Eastern Washington University’s Computer Science and Engineering Building has been perfecting her mixed-media skills since retirement four years ago and taking up “pointallism” soon after.

Pointallism is a drawing technique developed in France in the late 19th century that uses dots, similar to how the old dot matrix printers used dots to recreate photos. Simmons said she got into the technique somewhat by accident, learning to first draw with a felt-tipped marker from a neighbor who taught art. After he quit coming over to give her lessons, she searched out YouTube videos and picked up on the style.

“It was really trial and error,” Simmons said. “I didn’t know about pointallism. I found out later that it’s an art form.”

Simmons subjects are varied. She has done a series on toys, fairy tale figures — which she enjoys and says can provide a lot of fun — fruits, flowers and birds. She has also dabbled with various types of ink pens for different effects.

Simmons couldn’t say how long it takes her to produce an individual piece. She typically does her work at her kitchen table, which allows her to listen to music or watch TV and therein loses track of time.

“It doesn’t take me as long as it used to when I first started out because I’m kind of getting the lay of the land,” she said. “Sometimes it takes days to do. I never did anything with pencil, but my first try, it sat on my table for a week or two. Every time I left and came back, I would see something new. It created itself.”

Simmons isn’t certain how many pieces she has produced since picking up her pens and pencils, but she knows it’s “a bunch.” Being new at “this retirement thing” means she has time on her hands to work.

“Janet (Wilbanks) told me once, ‘for someone who is new at this you are pro–lific,’” Simmons said. She added that her sources for material includes the website Pintrest, which not only provides ideas but also different angles to help her produce works that are more three-dimensional.

“I kind of make stuff up as I go along,” Simmons said. “Sometimes they work. Sometimes they’re epic failures, but you never know until you try.”

Also appearing on the Slightly West tour but not on the brochure is glass artist Pamela Morton, who will be exhibiting at the Medical Lake Library, 321 E. Herb St. Brochures about the tour, including a map, are available at libraries in Cheney, Medical Lake and Airway Heights, and information can also be found on the Slightly West Facebook page.

The tour runs from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.

John McCallum can be reached at


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