Spokane arts nonprofit 'Terrain' is bringing back its highly popular flagship event after a two-year hiatus, showcasing more local art than ever.
Spokane arts nonprofit Terrain started as a one-off thing: a party thrown in a vacant building, highlighting local artists and their work.
In the decade-plus since, Terrain has become a permanent fixture in Spokane’s art world. The organization has expanded from vacant warehouses to its own gallery space, a retail storefront in River Park Square and year-round programming tailored to the local art community.
While Terrain’s flagship event was put on hold for two years due to the pandemic, it’s making its triumphant return in 2022 under the leadership of Ginger Ewing and Jackie Caro, the organization’s executive director and operations director, respectively.
“I think that the flagship event has become a sort of annual checkpoint for where we’re at as a creative community,” Ewing says. “Not having that boost of energy to jump-start the year was hard. We lost our sense of togetherness without that intangible, electric feeling that we get from Terrain.”
The organization’s events may have come to a screeching halt in the two-year interim, but the work behind the scenes didn’t. Ewing and Caro searched for ways to put money into the pockets of artists by hosting pop-up vaccination clinics and hiring BIPOC artists to do art tutorials in The Black Lens newspaper. After receiving grants and completing other fundraising efforts, Terrain brought in about $800,000 for local artists despite its own hardships.
“As an organization, we were losing thousands and thousands of dollars a week during that time,” Ewing says. “We need Terrain to sustain our organization and to fulfill our mission of bringing people together and showcasing amazing art.”
In addition to featured art being sold directly to patrons at the flagship event, there’s also a major fundraising focus to secure donations from attendees during its one-night run.
The anticipation of Terrain’s return has been felt in myriad ways. Ewing says that even though the call for submissions for this year’s event was shorter than previous years, at just three weeks, they’ve received almost as many submissions as previous years when the event was at its largest.
By the midnight deadline on Sept. 11, the organization had received 445 artist submissions for its 13th iteration, compared to a previous record of 457. Ewing says about 75 percent of this year’s submissions are from artists with whom she’s not familiar.
The event is known for bringing together the entire creative community — whether you’re a poet, a musician or a potter, you can find a sense of belonging at Terrain.
“It’s the bread and butter of what we do at Terrain,” Caro says. “It’s the one time we get to celebrate every art form that we support all at once.”
This year, Terrain is being held at a former Jensen-Byrd property in downtown Spokane. Though the name is the same as recent years’ venue in the University District, it’s not the same warehouse, but a different building also formerly owned by the longtime hardware company. That space, being more central than the previous venue, gives the event a different feel by its location alone.
“We anticipate having a stage outside of the venue this year,” Ewing says. “Our idea is that it’ll attract more people to the event — maybe some passer-by will wander in. We want to create a ton of energy outside of the building to match the energy inside.”
The venue will transform from an empty building into a bustling hub of all things local art. Terrain usually features a couple hundred art pieces that occupy all of the nooks and crannies of whatever space it’s popping up in. Caro says that this year, they encouraged more digital art submissions and more site-specific installations.
“In this new normal that we’re living in it’s more important than ever to the soul of the city to support local artists,” Caro says. “We need to invest in and support our creative community in a significant and meaningful way. Terrain accomplishes that.”
That support doesn’t stop after Terrain is over. Its leaders are always looking for new ways to advocate for local artists. In addition to the flagship event and two seasonal arts markets — BrrrZAAR and Bazaar — Ewing and Caro have plenty of side projects in the works they say will come to life in the next six months to a year.
“We have a lot up our sleeves,” Ewing says. “We’re just really excited about the future of our organization and the future of the city. It feels really, really good to be back.”
Terrain 13 • Fri, Oct. 7 from 5 pm-midnight • Free • All ages • 314
W. Riverside Ave. •