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The Arts Scene: Downtown Yakima storefronts come alive with art

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If you have been downtown on Yakima Avenue lately, you may have noticed some changes in the windows between Third street and Hotel Maison. The new “Windows Alive!” artwork has just been installed.

“Windows Alive” is part of an ongoing effort to bring public art to downtown Yakima. The Yakima Arts Commission, an advisory group appointed by the Yakima City Council, developed an idea to harness the creativity of Central Washington artists to invigorate windows of empty downtown storefronts by displaying artwork.

A call for artists went out last year, with a due date of Dec. 31. Artists’ applications were then sent to the Yakima Arts Commission, which selected the final five artists.

All artists worked with Jane Cooper to install their work, which was a challenge due to COVID restrictions. But masked up and ready to go, even in our cold winter conditions, the windows filled up.

Artist Kaerli Gray says she is “honored to be considered in a project as exciting as this one.” She has lived in Yakima County for most of her life and has found “pleasure in capturing the beauty of the people and nature that this wonderful place has to offer through drawing, painting and photography.”

Cecilia Marie Hudon is a self-taught artist based out of Yakima. Her love for art and ability to create it began at a very early age; she began drawing before she could read. Her small sketches for friends turned into elaborate drawings, then into larger murals.

Says Hudon: “I want my art to be that spark that influences the artists within you. I truly believe that the ability to create art is in all of us, because everything is art. The creation of anything that stems from one’s imagination, emotions and feelings is simply beautiful to me.”

Yusuf Incetas has been handcrafting cloth dolls since 2014. When he creates a doll he decides on a theme, but he “doesn’t know how it will turn out until it is finished.” His latest work centers on issues and represents a message with each doll. He recently finished a doll about breast cancer awareness, and another on the problems of Muslim women. He most recent doll incorporated the Turkish eye and addressed the concept of superstition.

Artist Madeline Crowder says that “spontaneity is integral to my artistic process. It makes my work an honest reflection of my feelings and experiences, although I rarely create with the conscious intention to express a particular idea.”

Leticia Mendoza Macedo works in 2D digital printing and photo collage. She said many things inspire her — “my daughter, dreams, nightmares, family, friends, video games, cartoons, emotions and other people’s drawings. It depends on whatever is running in my thoughts at the moment I’m trying to create.”

The current selection of artists’ work in “Windows Alive!” will be up through August. A new application for artists to be selected for the remainder of the year can be found at www.windowsalive.com.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. His column runs weekly in SCENE. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.

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