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Karen Dawn Dean | Art is germinating here ... just below the surface

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As an artist rooted in Wenatchee, I’m passionate about seeing that the arts are appreciated and given a respected place in the community. Over the years, I’ve seen numerous resurgences of interest and prominence of art; from Ruth Allan’s incredible juried exhibitions I saw as a kid to last year’s opening of the MAC Gallery. For the last three years, I’ve been one of the people involved in the latest effort to make the art forms of the valley more visible: Wenatchee’s monthly First Fridays ArtsWalk.

There’s so much creativity happening in the valley, but all too often it’s beneath the surface, or viewers haven’t been inspired to come out to see it, or displays don’t honor the work enough to truly move an audience. 

First Fridays is attempting to improve that situation — those of you who haven’t witnessed it will be surprised by the numbers of people out to see the art on exhibit during the Sept. 6 ArtsWalk.

FABRIC! I was reminded how much I love beautiful textiles when Jerri Barkley and I joined fabric artist and quilter Linda Riesterer in hanging her work for the upcoming show at the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce’s new showroom. 

As I watched Linda unwrap six quilts from their protective cotton cocoons, they sucked the light from the room … black velvet, rich silks, tiny tiny stitches, embroidery, silk ribbon, thousands of glass seed beads and all that glorious color. 

In “Linda Riesterer, the Quilt Explored” you’ll see highlights from her 15 year exploration of the craft and art of quilt making. Art walk night, the Chamber is hosting an Artist’s Reception for Linda, where you can talk quilts or art or both (while drinking wine). This exhibit coincides with the Harvest of Quilts Show, opening mid-month.

I’m also looking forward to a sort of “happening” that will occur on Friday evening. Anyone can participate as Charlie Voorhis films and Nicole Conner photographs what happens when everyday people have the opportunity to combine sound, movement, colored smoke and flying chalk. This will happen only in the moment. It may carry on in video, but in a 15-minute window, between 6 and 6:30 p.m., this performance piece will evolve … just once, and I don’t want to miss it. 

There’s so much more going on around town—something for everyone’s taste — but to experience it, you really have to be there. Hearing about visual art secondhand or just seeing images is a pale imitation to seeing it in person.

Come see the amount of creativity that’s on display and feel good about our community.

Karen Dawn Dean is a local artist and the driving force behind Wenatchee First Fridays Artswalk. She can be reached at