Spokane Queer Art Walk

Art knows no borders, knows no age and knows no sexual identification. Art is one of the earliest forms of communication, a way to record history and capture emotions. When an artist paints, sculpts, writes, sings or acts they are becoming that which they are creating. A Painter or sculpture or drawer shares an emotional story using their tools and their medium of choice. 

Being an artist myself I understand what an artist is, how you live and breathe what you do. There is something that compels you to create day and night. Artists take what is known and stand it on end, they go beyond what is seen, they can imagine what is something unthinkable to the rest, but when an artist is done it is pure creation.

LGBTQQIAAP or Queer artist, I use “Queer” because i want to include all the letters in all the arrangements with all their wonderful meaning because for every letter their are millions of creative artists in the world creating visual art that will make you laugh, cry, freak out or smile.  A Queer artist is no different than a heterosexual artist, religious artist or artist from a different culture, art is like science universal and wonderful to the many if only understood by the few.

We have had the opportunity to talk with a queer art lover who supports queer artists so much that he started a Queer Art Walk in Spokane, Washington for PRIDE month.  I interviewed Andrew Whitver about creating the Spokane Queer Art Walk and to the new caretakers of this wonderful event, Shantell Jackson and Melissa Huggins from Spokane Arts. (Spokane Arts is taking over the Spokane Queer Art Walk because Andrew is leaving Spokane this year.)

QC: Andrew, are you going to miss not being in charge of The Spokane Queer Arts Walk?  

Andrew – I like to start projects and then move on . I was never in charge. It was my idea, but I had a team that I worked with. 

QC:Tell us the story that first prompted you to start Spokane Queer Art Walk? 

Andrew – I moved to Spokane from Seattle in 2017. I had started the Capitol Hill Queer Art Walk a few years back. My partner and I had a pop up in Capitol Hill called Calypte Gallery.  We started showing queer artists for Pride month, so I thought why not ask more participants in the Capitol Hill Art walk to participate in a Queer Art for Pride? It caught on and still exists today. Upon moving to Spokane, I noticed in June that there were not any art venues showing queer art. I reached out to a few organizations and they thought Pride was just a weekend event. I conveyed to them that Pride is celebrated the entire month of June. I talked with the libraries, Spokane Arts, Downtown Spokane Partnership, Saranac, Kolva Sullivan, and Trackside Galleries, also First Ave Coffee and Terrain. All of these organizations and more commited to showing queer artists in the month of June 2019. 

QC: Is the reason for the name and timing of the event, Spokane Queer Art Walk, because you are LGBT or ally? 

Andrew – Spokane has a ” First Friday” It’s the first Friday of the month when galleries and other art venues have their openings. So I thought why not have the First Friday in June be the Queer Art Walk? I am a queer activist who supports queer artists.  

QC: Was it difficult to find venues to show? How many locations? 

Andrew – The Spokane community was extremely responsive to the event. It was not hard at all to find venues to participate. I think we had 9 places.

QC: How many artists did you have? 

Andrew – We had over 40 artists participate.

QC: After the first show, what things changed for the second year? 

Andrew – The pandemic hit the second year, so we had a few window displays

QC: What are the criteria for artists to participate? 

Andrew – They have to identify as queer.

QC: You mentioned you are leaving Spokane will you start another “Queer Art Walk” where you are moving to?

Andrew – I moved to Wisconsin. I’m not sure if I will start a queer art walk, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to support and increase visibility for queer artists

QC: You are handing the reins over to Spokane Arts. How do you feel about that? 

Andrew – I love that it is going to continue.  Spokane Arts is the leading arts organization in the region so I am very happy to see them organize the event.


Spokane Arts mission is to support arts and culture in the region through grantmaking, programming, advocacy, and professional development. They foster creativity by providing direct support to individuals, groups, and organizations in the creative sector, and promote local arts and culture to the wider community. Shantell Jackson (program director) and Melissa Huggins (Executive Director) are key to this mission of Spokane Arts.

QC: Did you know about  Spokane Queer Art Walk from the first event ?  

Shantell Spokane Arts actually participated in the first Queer Art Walk—we hosted poetry performances in our gallery & a few visual artists. I first met with Andrew about his vision for Queer Art Walk in February 2019, along with Mika Maloney, who worked for Spokane Arts at the time, and Tiffany Patterson, one of the QAW organizers. 

QC: Did Andrew approach Spokane Arts or did Spokane Arts approach Andrew?

Mellissa – Andrew has served as a Spokane Arts Commissioner for the past few years, which means he’s one of our board members. He’s become deeply involved in our organization since he founded QAW. When he decided to move to the Midwest with his husband, he wanted to make sure that Queer Art Walk wasn’t dependent solely on the small group of volunteers who’d created it. So he asked Spokane Arts to take on Queer Art Walk as one of our ongoing/annual programs, which we were delighted to do, and we formed a planning committee that includes the volunteer organizers who helped pull off the previous events, plus city arts commissioners, and Shantell and myself as Spokane Arts staff.

QC: Can you describe how the passing of the torch, so to speak, is being handled? 

Shantell – Andrew and I met along with the committee to discuss what has been done in the past and what my role will be as the new Program Director. Andrew pretty much had the venues and artists for 2022 ready to go. My role has been confirmed with the venues. I am also working with committee member and artist Remelisa Cullitan to curate the Chase gallery for the QAW. Andrew has been helpful and still attends planning meetings.

QC: Are the seven venues for the Queer Art Walk new this year or repeat venues or a little of both?

Shantell – A little bit of both, this year we have new spaces in the city that are eager to support artists. We are still working to solidify artists in these spaces, but I am excited to have a couple of new venues on the walk. One being Locust Cider.



For Dates, Times and Loations to view QUEER Arts!!


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