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VHS Art Club supports artists through not-so-serious shows

January 3, 2019

Take a look at the name, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of what the VHS Art Club is all about.

The club’s first show, in late 2017, featured “Home Alone”-inspired art.

That was then followed by shows featuring work inspired by the likes of “Psycho,” “The Shining,” “Jaws,” Mort Garson’s “Plantasia!” and Hank Hill, from “King of the Hill.”

Last month, the VHS Art Club celebrated its first year with “You Filthy Animal 2,” a second “Home Alone”-themed show.

While the content of the shows isn’t always so serious, the motivation behind the monthly events is.

Since the club’s beginning, a portion of each sale goes to the cancer funds of three area creatives: Susan Webber, Kelly Vaughn and Blaise Barshaw.

The VHS Art Club’s next show, “The Badass Women Show,” which will be held Friday at Resurrection Records, will benefit Webber and Vaughn specifically.

“The show’s about women for women by women,” VHS Art Club co-creator Cody Thomas said. “We’re hoping anything from Princess Leia to Amelia Earhart, anybody they think is great.”

Vaughn, an activist and musician, moved to Spokane from Portland in 2017. Later that year, she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

A short time later, Webber, an artist from Spokane, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lastly, artist Barshaw, another Portland transplant, learned he had throat cancer in the spring of 2018.

Around the same time Vaughn and Webber received their diagnoses, Thomas and his wife Emily Jannings-Thomas began talking with Mike House, owner of Resurrection Records, about hosting art shows in the back of the record store.

After hearing about Vaughn and Webber, Thomas and Jannings-Thomas, who went to school with and performs in the band Thigh Gap with Vaughn, decided those art shows could act as benefits for the artists.

Thus, the VHS Art Club was created.

“The themes are pretty much whatever we think is funny or interesting,” Thomas said. “We try to keep with pop culture and movies because it’s pretty accessible.”

Thomas sends an email out to artists on his call list, but he doesn’t curate the shows. Whoever shows up with art on the day it’s due will appear in the show.

The number of artists in each show varies from month to month, but it averages between 12 and 20.

Over the last year, the VHS Art Club has also hosted shows inspired by the Universal Pictures classic monsters (think Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula) and cabin horror art inspired by movies like “Friday the 13th,” “Sleepaway Camp” and “The Blair Witch Project,” as well as a solo show from Webber called “Malignant Muse for a Benign Being.”

In the new year, the VHS Art Club is looking to branch out a bit.

Inspired by the coloring books Barshaw has released, Thomas is working on a coloring book zine he hopes to launch in the next couple months.

In conjunction, he hopes to hold coloring book nights at the downtown bar Berserk, as well as “Bad Movie Bingo” nights.

But of course, the VHS Art Club will still host monthly art shows. Future shows will feature artwork inspired by “Titanic,” Guy Fieri and Keyboard Cat. Thomas also hopes to host a show featuring work by Vaughn and Webber later in the year.

For the time being, there’s good news from the VHS Art Club camp; both Webber and Barshaw are cancer free, and Vaughn’s brain tumor has shrunk in recent weeks.

But they all have medical bills still to pay, so the VHS Art Club will be doing what it can to help for the foreseeable future.

“We’re trying to make something fun out of something that’s not so fun,” Thomas said.

To be added to the VHS Art Club show call list, email rrartspace@gmail.com.

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