The best of the arts 2021 | Arts

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Photo of young Kwak

We’re still swooning over Jess Walter’s latest novel, The cold millions.

Best local band we can’t wait to see again play live
INDIAN GOAT
The itch for live music was strong over the past year; there is only a certain satisfaction that a music fan can get by streaming a show through their phone or computer. And no band has had our constituents more eager to return to a concert hall than the mighty duo Indian Goat. The duo of guitarist / vocalist Garrett Zanol and drummer Travis Tveit inspired almost instant adulation among local music fans when they started delivering their psych garage rock a few years ago. And while Indian Goat has released a new single (“Rolling Winds”) and a cool video in the midst of the pandemic (“Be Your Seer”) over the past year, the promise of shows potentially tied to a third album complete is really something to celebrate. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Blake Braley Band, Super Sparkle (tie); 3rd PLACE: Cronkites, Allen Stone (tie)


Best actor
DEECE CASILLAS
Casillas has already won our readers’ vote for Best Comedian and we somehow forgot to invite him to the Interior party celebrating the winners that year. But before you think that her victory in 2021 was a shady effort to make up for our distraction last time around, consider how hard the Spokane-based comic has worked during the pandemic despite being forced off the stage. with all his funny colleagues. He threw himself into his podcasts and videos (Social hour and The social minute), using YouTube and Facebook to reach local comedy fans without being able to hear them laugh in real time – often the only payoff for a local comedian. While there isn’t a Best Of the Inland Northwest party this year, I hope being our readers’ favorite comedian at a time when we all needed a laugh more than ever helps make up for that. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Dan Cummins; 3rd PLACE: Kelsey Cook


Best bookstore
TANTIE
In the strangest year most of us have ever known, Spokane’s favorite bookstore was there for us, delivering everything we needed to get through isolation at home via sales books. via correspondence, a curbside pickup and ultimately a return to peruse the considerable stacks of Auntie’s downtown Spokane space. Add in an impressive array of author events online and it often seemed like Aunt was busier than ever, even though we couldn’t visit for months. Readers helped Auntie’s survive the pandemic just as Auntie’s helped them maintain their sanity. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Giant Nerd Books; 3rd PLACE: Books from the wish tree; BEST OF NORTH IDAHO: The Well-Read Moose


Best author
JESS WALTER
There are years where local favorite Walter won this category based perhaps on a new short story or a contribution from Pie & Whiskey, but since our last Best Of issue we have been fortunate to have a new novel, The cold millions, a brilliant look at labor politics, class warfare and more, primarily here in Spokane and the Northwest Interior in the early 1900s. It’s a great read, full of action , humor and issues that still resonate over a century after Spokane evolved from the Old West to the city we know and love today. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Shields of Sharma; 3rd PLACE: Sherman Alexie


Best Local Visual Artist
BEN JOYCE
Ben Joyce had big plans in the works when the pandemic hit, a program of world travel to explore different cities and countries for a TV series and a new series of paintings inspired by the people he would meet along the way. Shortly after showing his New York piece at his namesake gallery, COVID put those shots on hiatus, so fans of Joyce’s distinct painting style, one he calls “abstract topophilia,” will have to wait a bit for these, perhaps while spending the time enjoying the myriad of Joyce works dot the public buildings and private homes of the area. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Daniel Lopez; 3rd PLACE: Chris Bovey


Best dance studio
SPOKANE ELITE DANCE STUDIO
For a dance studio that offers a wide range of classes and a focus on top-notch education, look no further than Spokane Elite Dance Studio. Classes range from ballet and lyrical to jazz and hip hop, and Spokane Elite Dance Studio also offers classes for teens and adults, so there is something for anyone who wants to dance. (LP)
2nd PLACE: Spokane Dance Center; 3rd PLACE: Inland Northwest Ballet from Spokane; BEST OF NORTHERN IDAHO: Alta Dance Academy, Hayden


Best Local Instagram
@SPOKANEEATS
Since launching the Spokane Eats Instagram account and blog in 2014, Texan Transplant has grown proudly Spokanite Chandler Baird has become a trusted and go-to source for recreations on the best food and beyond in the Northwest from the inside: restaurants, events, retailers, services and more. Spokane Eats online platforms are full of helpful guides to the best burgers, ice cream, sushi and more in the area, and Baird is always one of the first to discover a new restaurant or business in town and share her thoughts. honest with its subscribers. (CS)
2nd PLACE: @ spokane.guild; 3rd PLACE: @spokaneplayground


Bob Gallagher's record store is our reader's favorite.  - DEREK HARRISON PHOTO

Photo by Derek Harrison

Bob Gallagher’s record store is our reader’s favorite.

Best Record Store
4000 HOLES
What do we like about a record store? A great selection, of course, across a variety of genres. Knowledgeable staff to offer suggestions or educate us on something we’ve heard and want to know more about. And a cool atmosphere, a space where you are comfortable to browse for a few minutes or a few hours. Every spot that garnered votes in this category hit those spots, but Bob Gallagher’s longtime Spokane store is our reader’s favorite. Between the vinyl and CD racks, the occasional in-store performance, and Bob’s in-depth knowledge of Spokane’s music history, it’s hard to beat 4,000 Holes. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Registers of the resurrection; 3rd PLACE: total recordings and sound in the basket; BEST OF NORTH IDAHO: The Long Ear, Coeur d’Alene


Best Virtual Arts Event (Music, Reading, Gaming) of 2020-21
GET THE LIGHTING! FESTIVAL
The pandemic has been brutal for arts organizations of all stripes, and especially for those that rely on live and in-person events. EWU’s annual literary celebration Get Lit! managed to turn an incredibly difficult year into an online version worthy of its “normal” procedures thanks to an impressive roster of guests from across the country, a group including author RO Kwon, poet Michael Kleber-Diggs and Moreover. Panel discussions on everything from Indigenous voices to graphic novels to criminal justice reform were the highlights, as was the online version of the beloved Pie & Whiskey event. (N / A)
2nd PLACE: Spokane Symphony @ Home; 3rd place: I am my own woman, Left theater to the stage; BEST OF NORTH IDAHO: Virtual Art on Green, Coeur d’Alene


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