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Local Artists Open Their Studios This Saturday



Fall is a busy season for art in the Inland Northwest. This weekend, a unique arts festival will invite the public into working artists’ studios.

The Little Spokane River Valley is home to popular parks, golf courses, small farms, and suburban developments. Driving through, you might not notice the many artist studios, but this Saturday, September 28, five studios in this neighborhood will open their doors to the public, showcasing forty artists from around the Northwest.

Pottery pieces on display at Gina Freuen's studio, one of five studios which will be open as part of the Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour.

“This is our twelfth year of doing this studio tour,” says Jill Smith. “And it really started when the great show Inland Craft Warnings came to an end downtown. We felt it kind of left a void in the art scene for an art show that featured professional artists. There are some great little art shows around here, but ours probably has the biggest collection of artists who actually make their living off their art.”

For Gina Freuen and Jill Smith, art has been central to their lives for decades. 

“I have been a potter since prehistoric times,” says Smith, “as has my companion here Gina.”

“I’ve lived and worked and taught in Spokane for forty-some years. So yes, Jill and I began our careers in clay about the same time. Spokane’s Expo ‘74 was when we all began.”

Now in its twelfth year, the Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour is an opportunity for art lovers to get an intimate look at the life of a professional artist. 

“Most of the artists in this show have at least a percentage of their livelihood supported through the sale of their art,” says Freuen So yes, we love having people come and look, but it is also so important to stress in this day and age how important it is to support the arts, even if it’s a small purchase.”

Sales are important for all the artists involved, but for those opening up their studios, there’s more to this event.

Jill Smith's pottery on display at her ClayFox pottery studio.

“What’s important to us is showing people where we work and what inspires us as we look out the windows and, in Gina’s and my case, create clay pieces,” says Smith. “We are very much influenced by place. And the Little Spokane River Valley is a very creative place. And so a lot of our studios—all the studios that are open—are pretty much working artists who are influenced by where they are. And so being able to have people come to our studio and actually see what makes us make what we do.”

The Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour is this Saturday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details and a map of studio locations can be found at For Spokane Public Radio, I’m Chris Maccini.


Chris Maccini previously worked at SPR as Morning Edition host and producing arts and special programming such as The Bookshelf, Poetry Moment, Northwest Arts Review, special features and more.