As one who moved to Spokane in very recent history, I often find myself enamored with things that long-time residents might take for granted. For example, when I discovered that nestled inconspicuously in Riverfront Park, there existed a sculpture of a garbage-eating goat, I was immediately intrigued. How delightfully odd!
Now, there are a large number of impressive displays of art within Riverfront Park. For example, there's the newer and impossible-to-miss "Rotary Riverfront Fountain" by Harold Balazs and Bob Perron (2005 installation), which is swamped in warmer weather by giddy children looking for a soak. And how about "The Joy of Running Together" by David Govedare (1985 installation), in celebration of the Bloomsday runners that flock to Spokane every year for the largest timed road running race in the world. But for me, it was "Goat," by Sister Paula Turnbull that excited my sense of whimsy, and it is a fixture that I feel compelled to share with those new to this great city. And as one who works downtown, I'll admit I still go out of my way to pass by it every now and then.
The goat was completed for Expo '74, and remains one of the better-known pieces of Sister Paula, of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a convent just northwest of the Spokane River. The ingenious sculpture sucks up trash that's held near the goat's mouth, thanks to the button-operated vacuum attached to its rear end. The fact that a local nun conceived this makes it all the more magical for some reason. Sister Paula continues to sculpt from the Holy Names Art Center at 85-years-old, and we eagerly await her next joy-inspiring piece. Her other works include a sasquatch completed for Spokane Community College, and a mother-daughter sculpture titled "Anna and Alta" in Browne's Addition. I encourage you to find out more about Spokane's artworks at http://www.spokanearts.org/. And if you've visited the Inland Empire before, let us know what pieces have stood out for you!