Windows Alive!

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 their work as part of a project called, "Windows Alive!". "Windows Alive!" is part of an ongoing effort to bring public art in Downtown Yakima. Current window displays are located on Yakima Avenue between the Hotel Maison and Third Street.

Below is a sample of the artwork and statements from the five selected artists.

Current Artists for Spring/Summer 2022

Calista Graaff

Calista Graaff

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Calista Graaff

Calista Graaff moved from the family farm in Ellensburg, WA to Yakima in 2022. She enjoys the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and reflects that in her unique works of art.

“On the farm I loved getting out in nature and getting my hands dirty in my garden. Whenever I find some piece of rusted, discarded equipment lying around, or gaze at the sunset over the Cascades, it fascinates me to see the colors that were created naturally. Every piece of rusted equipment and every colorful view is one-of-a-kind and makes me feel something different each time I see it. There’s a special kind of beauty with every experience.”

Calista draws on that inspiration to create art that captures that same feeling of natural uniqueness. She uses controlled acrylic paint pours to create unexpected, abstract representations of natural elements. Acrylic and oil paints give her work a bold, colorful, modern style. And her occasional use of recycled books and magazines lends a literary touch and additional layers of detail and discovery.

To contact the artist: info@artbycalista.com

Daniel Hanson

Daniel Hanson

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Daniel Hanson

Daniel is a self-taught artist raised and currently living in Yakima. He started experimenting with art at a young age. He began his journey into self-expression using soft pastels to create his version of abstract.

It was summer of 2020 when he began experimenting with acrylic paint. He found himself captivated by the way acrylic paint would morph and shift the forms of his work. The discovery of black canvass pushed his work further into an even deeper expression of his Spirit.

His work has been called introspective, thought provoking, emotional and pareidolic (which is unintentional by this artist). In an endeavor to make his art accessible, many of his pieces are priced reasonably.

Daniel’s influences are wide-ranging and include everyone from Hilma af Klint to Vincent Van Gogh to Jean Michel Basquiat and many others. He attributes his source material as whatever music or documentary he is listening to as he works. His typical ‘painting soundtrack’ is comprised of science-fiction videos, Goth industrial and alternative rock music. While this is his first opportunity to exhibit to the public, several of his pieces already reside in the homes and offices of friends and families. He is known for saying, “You never know, it could be worth a million someday!” Daniel is more than grateful and humbled to be considered for this opportunity to finally show the world his introspective vision.

To contact the artist: dch.dan.hanson@gmail.com

James West Nelson

James West Nelson

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James West Nelson

After my father, William (Bill) Nelson passed away in 1997, and my mother, Eleanor, in 2015, I became curator of their voluminous catalogue of artworks. Among other themes, both my artist-parents created fine plein air, Impressionistic/Expressionistic oil paintings in natural settings. As I labored to preserve their works, I would think, “What a beautiful painting, but I wish Dad (or Mom) would have painted a deer, or an eagle, or a bear into this...”

Recently, I discovered John James Audubon assigned his assistant, Joseph Mason, to paint the plant-life and backgrounds into fifty of Audubon’s most famous bird studies. He collaborated with other artists as well. As a high-school science teacher, a longtime falconer, an author/illustrator, and “an artist’s kid,” I’ve been observing/illustrating wildlife for much of my life. I thought, “Audubon collaborated, why shouldn’t my parents and I do the same (posthumously)?”

My efforts have been guided by four principles: 1) At first, do no harm. Additions should never diminish quality in the original. 2) Match the style. Additions should seamlessly blend into the original painting. 3) Keep it believable. Populate paintings with objects appropriate to each setting. Finally, 4) Transparency. Sign and date each painting alongside (or across from) the original artist’s signature.

This exhibit is a posthumous collaboration between my father and me. Each painting has been chosen for its potential to include wildlife or other objects of interest to “spice up” his masterfully painted settings. The one exception is Bill’s self-portrait. That’s all him. I hope you enjoy the results.

To contact the artist: jwnalethes01@yahoo.com

Justin Kloster

Justin Kloster

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Justin Kloster

My work focuses on a counterintuitive notion of typography and letterforms. Letters are the building blocks for written communication which humans have engaged in for over 5,000 years. They are deeply rooted in our brains as pieces that translate to words and therefore inherently have a larger meaning. In my collages, I attempt to break the connection between letters and a written message. In a world so heavily driven by direct visual communication, is it possible to break that connection?

Outside of the realm of written language, letters are organic shapes. They are similar to those used to create art for the last century that goes beyond representation. I am simply continuing that tradition of making abstract work that is purely based on aesthetics. There is no deeper or hidden meaning in my collages, as the only goal is to create something that feels good. I want my art to create a sense of belonging regardless of the environment it is placed in. It is not art for contemplative thought, but for a satisfying feeling that induces familiarity as well as an honest sense of newness.

To contact the artist: justinkloster2@gmail.com

Omar Gonzalez

Omar Gonzalez

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Omar Gonzalez

I am a local Yakima artist. I have always been interested in many types of art. One form of art that really stuck with me was aerosol art, also known as graffiti art. I love expressing myself by using radiant colors in many of my pieces. Along my artistic career I have created my own signature character, a turtle I named Todd. Some of his features resemble characteristics of myself. My art reflects my urban roots showing my love for the Hip Hop culture. I want people to understand that art can inspire and motivate through colors, messages, or art pieces.

To contact the artist: oalexia8102@yahoo.com

Wendy McAleer

Wendy McAleer

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Wendy McAleer

I believe that art is not a statement, but a conversation. My work is the opening thought, and then the audience responds, and a conversation builds from there. As such, I generally don't like to say much about my work initially, so as not to over-influence the first impression, but I will say this; in my work I try to capture the energy of a moment, or idea, or object.

I think we all have times when the universe slows down, compresses to a single point and shows us something with utter clarity. I try to preserve that fleeting, vivid understanding as best I can so that it can be shared with others.

This series was done in acrylic on chipboard.

To contact the artist: akazeantra@gmail.com

About the Project

"Empty windows in unoccupied storefronts send a message that isn't very positive," said Yakima Cheryl Hahn who originally championed the "Windows Alive!" project. "The idea behind 'Windows Alive!' is to fill those storefront windows with beautiful art and create a more engaging and vibrant environment downtown. The project also gives local artists a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work."

Windows Alive Coordinator: Jane Cooper

The Arts Commission is accepting applications through 5:00pm, August 31st, 2022 for the fall/winter installation.

For more details contact Jane Cooper at yakimawindows@gmail.com