Ghosts in the goodbye sky: Moscow resident brings old buildings to life through drawings, screen prints

Kristin Carlson Becker built her downtown Moscow in three weeks.

She poured her foundation after assisting in a lesson at Palouse Prairie School, and hammered the framing after viewing old photos of buildings. Walls and insulation grew higher after she drew more than 12 buildings. She built a still incomplete downtown through screen printing, which included her representations of the Moscow Hotel, the Moscow National Bank Building and more.

click to enlarge Becker's drawing of the Moscow Hotel shows a contrasted light white and blue above the building to show what once stood years ago.
Becker's drawing of the Moscow Hotel shows a contrasted light white and blue above the building to show what once stood years ago.

Becker’s collection, “Good(bye) Buildings,” is a series of screen prints and postcards spurred by her love of architecture. After helping complete an art and history project last year with Lizzie Bromley-Vogel’s first grade class, Becker was inspired to create a collection of art that featured local buildings as they stand now, with a tinge of their past.

Becker puts her own twist on buildings, and emphasizes the part that she enjoys. “I’m attracted to color and I’m attracted to typography,” said Becker, who took the liberty to enlarge the “Drugs” sign on the Hodgins Drug Store building.

For her adaptation of the Holt Block and Casa Lopez building, the right-handed artist decided to draw left-handed and use only two colors. The McConnell building doesn’t have "Mingles" written on it, but you’ll find an image of a shark holding a pool stick on a ground-level window.

click to enlarge Dean Hare/Daily-NewsKristin Carlson Becker's "Good(bye) Buildings" Moscow artwork is on display in the Moscow Yoga Center, as seen Aug. 8. - DEAN HARE
Dean Hare
Dean Hare/Daily-News
Kristin Carlson Becker's "Good(bye) Buildings" Moscow artwork is on display in the Moscow Yoga Center, as seen Aug. 8.

Playing with history, Becker’s Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre print is half black and white and half green, to compare the old brick with the current tile siding. Her Storm Cellar corner has a historical light-blue gas station in the sky above the building as it stands now.

Becker received an undergraduate degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, where the state’s old architecture and decay caught her eye.

Becker said the dilapidation of a building can be the most beautiful part.

“Overall, it’s better if they’re rehabilitated ... but making the prints is a way for me to preserve that presentation,” Becker said.

Becker went on to receive her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at Indiana University, which led her to draw, stencil and then screen print not only Moscow buildings, but ones in both Rhode Island and Indiana.

“I work from drawing on semi-transparent paper — a frosted acetate,” said Becker, who moved to Moscow about three years ago with her husband and now teaches as a Washington State University adjunct professor.

Becker moved to Moscow without ever having seen the town.

“I was looking for the most iconic, funny and unusual thing,” said Becker, who found the City of Moscow Water Department Building to be just that.

She drew the water building. Then, after the first grade class project, and in preparation for the Moscow ArtWalk, Becker branched out to draw and print the other Moscow buildings in three weeks.

“I have to live in a place for a while before I want to make a place,” Becker said. “I have to build a relationship with the buildings over time.”

Most of her prints are about 11-by-14 inches. Some of her prints are the size of a postcard — more for collecting than sending, Becker said.

Becker’s artwork is on the walls of a Moscow Yoga Center hallway, in correlation with the buildings’ locations on Main Street. Some of the artwork done by Palouse Prairie students is displayed, too. To view her artwork, visit kristincarlsonbecker.com/mainstreet.html or goodbyebuildings.com, or visit the Moscow Yoga Center during operating hours. To purchase her artwork, visit www.etsy.com/shop/GoodbyeBuildings.

Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or ltreffry@inland360.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @LindseyTreffry.

-> if you go: WHAT: Kristin Carlson Becker’s “Good(bye) Buildings” collection WHEN: Moscow Yoga Center operating hours. A full yoga schedule is posted online at www.moscowyogacenter.com. WHERE: Upstairs hallway leading to bathroom inside Moscow Yoga Center, 525 S. Main St. COST: Free to see. Artwork prices range from $20 to $40 for prints of Moscow buildings.

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