Tag Archives: featured

Life in the Key of K

Kendall Feeney dazzled audiences with her passion for eclectic music. Off stage she was just as inspiring.

My favorite memory of Kendall Feeney is from a bowling outing, one that now seems like a lifetime ago.

It had to have been in the early 90s and the three of us—she and I and my then-spouse, Connie—must have wanted to get out of our heads for a while. So, here was this restless musical scholar and wisp of a phenom—in four tone, rental bowling shoes. Her eyes were crossed and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth as she pretended to be drunk after rolling a gutter ball. It was deliriously funny. She could be that way.

photo courtesy Patricia Ratcliffe

I wouldn’t be the one to even try to summarize K’s extraordinary musical legacy. I’ll just inject that if there were any questions about her talent, her passion, and her insatiable explorations, she answered them many times over with the aptly named “Zephyr” project she created and sustained in Spokane for over a decade, until 2002.

Even so, there was so much more to her career as an artist and teacher. For those reasons, it was more than fitting that the first person to speak publicly about Kendall’s passing was fellow musician Verne Windham who, for a generation, has also been the voice of classical music for Spokane Public Radio. With perfectly eloquent silence, Verne said nothing at all to start his tribute to her. He simply allowed her piano to speak in Bach for two and a half minutes before softly informing his audience of her passing and talking wistfully about her life and her formidable contributions to the Spokane music scene. The 17 minute piece includes a fairly recent recording of Kendall teaching Bach and in it we hear the energy and fluctuations in her voice as she writes out loud about how the composition unfolds. It is the voice of a woman who would not be extinguished. She led an indelible life. Continue reading Life in the Key of K

The Third Question

A conversation with writer Donald Cutler about his morally vigilant exploration of Col. George Wright’s 1858 campaign, and how to reckon with its dark and complex legacy.

In Donald Cutlers’s new book, “Hang Them All,” George Wright and the Plateau Indian War, we first meet two men and a lie at the end of a crumbling ribbon of asphalt in Four Lakes, Washington. The first is George Wright, the once-exalted military hero, and the one whose name is etched in the ten foot high granite monument surrounded by gopher holes and broken glass. Wright died in 1865. The other man is Cutler himself, who has come to the site of this historic battlefield out of curiousity for what happened here a century and a half ago, and leaves with two questions: Who was George Wright? And what do Native Americans think of this monument which was heralded, at the time, as a peace memorial?

As he describes in the preface to his book, the falsehood etched upon the monument—that the 700 soldiers under Wright’s command defeated a force of “5,000 allied Indians”—is a clue to a larger truth. It is the victors that get to write history in stone, and the gross exaggeration of the size of the Indian force (Cutler’s research finds there were, at most, 1,000 opposing warriors) serves only to embellish Wright’s image among the “pioneers” as a peacemaker. It does not address his cruelties and, in that way, it is the crumbling asphalt and shards of glass that, in Cutler’s scene, are the more revealing details.

Donald Cutler, “Hang Them All,” Part I

Don Cutler on “Hang Them All,” Part II

This is not history that is easily swallowed, nor easily written.

Continue reading The Third Question

The Birth of “Bearing”

A conversation with Spokane artist and dancer Ildikó Kalapács about a sculpture that calls us to look at the human experience in the wake of warfare.

Ildikó Kalapács’ vision for “Bearing,” a life-sized sculpture that gives form to the human burden of warfare, does not arise from a single moment, or memory, or place within her consciousness. Yet it does carry some weight of her history.

Ildikó Kalapács
Ildikó Kalapács

“I grew up in Hungary during the Cold War era. My grandparents were in the Second World War. And they experienced the German takeover, and then the Russian takeover, and then the socialist era. So they, especially the women, were very, very tough. Under the harshest conditions women always had to figure out how to get what they wanted, for themselves, but mostly for their families.”

She had been “brooding” about this phenomenon, and its extrapolation to the aftermath of armed conflicts globally, when she walked into her back yard in Spokane, Washington, and began molding a figure out of wax. From there it evolved to a table-top sculpture, a tenth the scale of the full-size bronze that will be cast and then unveiled for public display on a bluff overlooking the Spokane River. Continue reading The Birth of “Bearing”