The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

Ominous beginning can't put a damper on third annual Art in the Park


Journal photo by Brandon Cline

Mike Kuest hangs one of his sports-themed metal sculptures on his tent during the third annual Art in the Park at the Ritzville City Park. Kuest does many sports and outdoors-themed sculptures, and takes requests.

An ominous beginning couldn't put a damper on this year's Art in the Park, as the show staged its third annual event at the Ritzville City Park and is beginning to feel like a mainstay during Memorial Day weekend.

Wet conditions on Friday forced exhibitors to close up shop in the afternoon on the first day of the show. But weather conditions were much improved on Saturday, much to the delight of the exhibitors and Mayor Gary Cook, who was overseeing the art show in his capacity as president of Boots N' Brushes Western Artists Association, who sponsored the event.

Artwork was featured across a wide array of mediums, including handmade jewelry, metal sculptures, handmade reversible bags, handmade soaps, paintings, clothing and wooden sculptures.

One of the returning artists who attended last year's Art in the Park was Mike Kuest, who creates metal sculptures that people can hang up in their homes, on the exterior of their houses or pretty much anywhere they'd like to. Kuest had a large collection of sculptures on display and for sale, such as logos for sports teams, classic sayings and quotes, and animals such as horses.

Another returning artist was Richland's Barbara Safley, who creates handmade jewelry, clothing and crafts. This was Safley's second year at Art in the Park, and said she enjoyed how laid-back this year's show was compared to last year.

"Last year it was very tense, and this year has been very laid-back," said Safley. "We all know each other. And like I told [Cook], a big part is how we're separated. [In 2018] we were all on top of each other, but this year it gives people a chance to wander through, be able to visit and still look to see if something caught their eyes. We just don't feel crowded in."

A new twist to this year's Art in the Park was the addition of live music on Saturday afternoon by The Old Dogs, led by vocalist and Gigamedics owner Cory Bartlett. Safley said it was good music for all ages to enjoy and helped cultivate a more laid-back weekend.

For some of the out-of-town exhibitors, Art in the Park gives them the opportunity to establish a presence in and learn about the Ritzville community. One such exhibitor was Pier Angeli, who was showcasing and selling handmade soaps and jewelry for the second year. Angeli lives in Spokane and had worked as a bus driver for the Spokane Transit Authority, and said that participating in Art in the Park gave her the chance to learn about Ritzville.

"I'm learning more about Ritzville. It's nice and it's warm-except for Friday- and it's cute and a clean little city," said Angeli, who used to live in Moses Lake and would just stop at the gas stations and dining options near the highway.


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