Artist Ric Gendron with samples of his work.

Artist Ric Gendron with samples of his work.

MOSES LAKE — Despite an Oct. 3 fire that destroyed his home studio and neighboring residences in Elmer City, artist and Colville Confederated Tribes member Ric Gendron carries on with a planned exhibit of his work opening Nov. 16 in Moses Lake.

The painting exhibition "Stick Indians" was inspired by the shadowy entities in Northwest Indian tradition, who sometimes waylay travelers in the woods after dark. For the 5 p.m. opening reception at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center, he partners with independent curator and art essayist Ben Mitchell, who'll discuss Gendron's work.

But Gendron told the Colville Tribal Tribune on Wednesday he's working hard to restore and reorganize smoke-damaged artwork for the show that was damaged last week, when his mobile home and three others were ravaged by a fast-moving brushfire.

"It's a huge show and I have a lot of significant work," Gendron, a member of the Arrow Lakes Band, told the newspaper. "If they do hang in the museum, they're going to smell."

Moses Lake Museum manager Freya Liggett said Thursday she’s been working with contacts at the Seattle Art Museum to help with any needed restoration. 

Really, we’re just taking it one step at a time,” Liggett said. “The intention is to continue forward with the show, and it’ll come together how it’s meant to.”

Emergencies like Gendron’s will be a topic of conversation this week at the Washington Cultural Congress and Confab in Ellensburg, where Liggett is a presenter. State agencies and nonprofits hope to create a formal network to aid Washington artists and preserve their work.

Gendron was educated at Cornish College of the Arts and has painted for more than 35 years, exhibiting his work throughout the country. His 2012 touring exhibit with Mitchell, "Rattlebone," was later published as an art book.

"His use of color is dramatic and sometime surreal," Spokane Spokesman-Review columnist Shawn Vestal wrote Wednesday. "His images of Native Americans and animals, of landscapes and menacing local cops, are rendered with energy and boldness."

Friends have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Gendron's housing and studio space. "Stick Indians" runs Nov. 16 to Jan. 4, 2019 at the Moses Lake museum, 401 S. Balsam. For information, call 764-3830.

Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013

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