For a glimpse into Spokane’s ceramic community, look no further than Trackside Studio Ceramic Art Gallery.

Located at the west end of downtown, Trackside is one of the more unique centers for ceramics in the city. As both a functional studio and a sales gallery, Trackside provides a space for visitors to see the ceramic process from start to finish.

Clay artists Mark Moore and Chris Kelsey share the studio space at Trackside. 

“In the studio space Chris Kelsey and I are here almost every day making things,” Moore said. “We make sculptural objects and functional pottery. And so, there's usually something going on all the time.”

Their work is on exhibit in the gallery space, along with exhibiting partner Gina Freuen. The gallery also features the work of other ceramic artists from the community as part of Trackside’s invitational exhibitions.

The studio changes its exhibits each month. Trackside also participates in First Friday, which showcases art and retail in the Downtown Business Improvement District the first Friday of each month. 

“We try to make sure that we'll be doing something different kind of around the calendar," Moore said. "We [attempt] to show work from out of town and from people that would not normally get chance to show work in Spokane."

Currently, Trackside is collecting coaster donations for their annual coaster benefit. Artists and community members can stop by the studio and pick up coasters to decorate and donate for the cause. Starting in November, Trackside will sell the coasters for $10 each, with proceeds benefiting River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary — a charitable organization that values adoption, education and advocacy. 

Other events at Trackside include their annual cup show in December. They invite as many as 40 artists from across the country to send in ceramic cups to sell at the gallery. Typically, more than 150 cups sell out by the end of the month. 

Visitors can find more ceramic art next door at the Kolva-Sullivan Gallery, a resident artists exhibition space. Its exhibit rotates monthly and features artwork from around the world.

Community members who want to get involved in ceramics can visit the number of clay studios in the area, something that is unique to Spokane.

“For Spokane to have as many clay studios as it does, communal studios, is really kind of surprising,” said Mathew Rude, ceramic artist and associate professor of art at Gonzaga. “There's definitely a need for or a desire for people to want to touch clay and learn how to make something.”

At GU, students can get involved with ceramics through a variety of classes, from wheel throwing to kiln building. 

“Courses are mainly around functionality and learning the potter's wheel,” Rude said. “And then when they get to intermediate and advanced, they can sort of branch out from that.” 

The ceramics scene in Spokane is ever-changing, according to Rude. People make work that is important to them and follow their own unique path.

And after more than a year and a half of pandemic restrictions, people are beginning to engage again in the ceramic community in Spokane.

“I think we have a great ceramics community in Spokane,” Moore said. “It's been nice to see people coming back, and it's been great to see our clay community, you know, potter friends, that are coming out and about.”

People can get out and see Trackside and its changing exhibitions Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 115 S. Adams St.

Claire Tollan is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @clairetollan.

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