Pop-up art takes downtown


BY ADDY FORTE | Evergreen fine arts reporter

Abandoned and empty storefronts or blank canvasses full of possibility? The Pullman Storefront Project will light up vacant downtown windows with displays created by local artists inspired by the theme ‘Shift.’ The opening reception will take place Friday from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The project will color downtown’s storefronts until Dec. 12.

Angel Nava, arts coordinator at the Office of Student Involvement, said from concept to installation the whole project was put together in about a month. She said she’d seen many cities across the country do a type of storefront project.

“It was really relevant I think after the recession, a lot of store fronts went vacant,” she said. “Artists were then coming into these spaces around the country and taking the opportunity to bring art into those spaces and bring energy and life into those spaces, even temporarily.”

While brainstorming for a theme, the idea of ‘Shift’ really stuck with a lot of artists at the table, Nava said.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities conceptually with the idea, and I think it will hopefully resonate with a lot of people,” Nava said. “It seemed like a fun thing to explore.”

Five storefronts in downtown Pullman will be occupied by artists, including Noelle Pflanz, a second-year master of fine arts student at WSU, and students from instructor Hiromi Okumura’s 2D design and drawing classes.

When Pflanz considered the idea of ‘Shift’ she said she thought of how many times she’s moved over the years. She said she thought about how people get motion sickness when reading in the car because the book they’re looking at is moving and they have nothing stationary to reference. Though she has moved and shifted many times, places in Pullman stay the same, she said.

“I’m moving but these places are stationary and they keep me leveled,” Pflanz said.

She said she used her background in textiles to create embroidered outlines of local buildings on an orange and pink background inspired by Pullman sunsets. Pflanz said she was interested in how the project included the WSU community, the Pullman community, as well as the agricultural community and tried to select buildings from all over the area to represent each community in one storefront.

“My apartment and even Dissmore’s are places I visit often, or I walk by them on my way to school,” she said. “They become these stationary places among by day and keep me centered and focused.”

Okumura divided her students into groups and asked them what they think of when they think ‘Shift’ and ‘Pullman.’

Sammantha Hall, a freshman in Okumura’s class, and her group said they thought of Pullman shifting through time and how the Lentil Festival has brought together the university, city and surrounding area for many years. She said they planned on creating a 10-foot tall one-point-perspective painting of the WSU marching band at the lentil festival.

“I’ll overhear a lot of people say, ‘Oh there’s nothing to do in Pullman,’ or ‘There’s not a huge culture here,’ ‘There’s not a lot of things going on,’” Nava said.

Hall said her group was working on choosing what buildings to line the streets with. She said they had to think of the community buildings they knew and places that tied them together like the building with the Lentil Festival Mural painted on its side.

“I think our community is what we make it,” Nava said, “If there’s something we wish existed here, I think it’s our responsibility to initiate that change.”

Live student performers will play in front of the featured storefronts and she said she hopes the project will realize that there are many opportunities to connect with the people around us.

“It’s a great thing for the students to work for the community,” Okumura said.