Monday, January 4, 2016

Verbatim 2015: An art + text collaboration

It was a first for me, back in October of 2015; a collaboration of my photography with the poetry of Spokane's Christopher Cook. I was excited to be invited to participate in Verbatim 2015, an annual fundraiser for INK Artspace and Spark Center.

I first met Chris at the organizational meeting and found him to be open and receptive to working with me--my being a bit under the Spokane art scene radar--and to combining our respective talents. Chris is a long-time Spokanite, whereas I've only been here for about four years, and a rather reclusive four years at that.

He provided me with a lot of his published chapbooks and poems so I could get a feel for how he wrote, and he came on this blog site to see my photography. And so it began.

Chris is not only well-respected in poetry circles, but he also teaches at Gonzaga University and plays trumpet in the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. With his extensive background, he provided me with a list of visual resources from which to choose. He itemized places, which I then wandered around and photographed. Chris also pulled some strings, taking me through the Bing Crosby Theater and the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, where I sought to find some interesting behind the scenes shots.

This turned out not only to be great fun, but also an excellent means of learning how to get around downtown Spokane. Even though I've lived here for a time, I really had not explored much of the downtown area. Why not? Traffic is off-putting, so many one-way streets, abysmal parking, you name it. But, this experience forced me out of my shell, for which I'm most grateful!

It was quite exciting to work in this way. I am rather unstructured in what and where I photograph. This collaboration was awesome in forcing me to focus on the end product for a specific purpose.

I shared the photographs with Chris and he selected one grouping, a diptych of shots from The Baby Bar. This, as I understand it, is Spokane's smallest bar, located behind Neato Burrito on First Avenue.

Thus, the images were selected and the poet sharpened his pencil and went off to do his thing. I could hardly wait to read what Christopher wrote.

The evening of the gallery exhibit/auction and the corresponding performance of the written word came and went with great fanfare. Chris performed his farcical after hours essay, complete with musical accompaniment, and both of the photographs went to appreciative new homes!


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