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An Inch at a Time

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Public art continues to grow in the Sandpoint area

Sandpoint’s public art collection grew in June 2007 by 36,000 square inches when ten local artists participated in a sidewalk-painting project sponsored by the Sandpoint Arts Commission. The murals, located at Farmin Park, were funded by local contributions to Sandpoint’s "Art by the Inch" account.

The Sandpoint Arts Commission, formed in 2004, acts as a bridge between the mayor, city council, local artists, and interested individuals to help bring more public art to Sandpoint. The commission consists of five to nine volunteers plus a city council and city staff member.

"We have representatives from the high school, Panida Theater, the Festival, business and art community," said Joan Bramblee, senior planner for the city of Sandpoint.

According to Bramblee, SAC began because of the statue "Tolerance" that sits in front of the courthouse.

"The city regretfully declined accepting it," Bramblee said, "because we didn’t have any standards-if the Aryans had wanted to come and donate something to us, there wouldn’t have been any way to say no to them. That prompted us to start the Arts Commission."

SAC meets once a month. They oversee the Sandpoint Art by the Inch Fund, work with Planning and Zoning and the Public Works Department on mural permits, initiate art projects, and host an annual strategic planning session.

Farmin Park has received a face-lift with the help of SAC. In 2006, Tammy Farmin created a Tortoise and Hare sculpture titled "Pace Yourself." The tortoise, large enough for a small child to sit on, looks toward the finish line, while the hare kicks back with a lazy smile on his face.

"Pace Yourself" resides near the clock tower funded by the Rotary Club which was installed in honor of Bob Lindemann. Lindemann, a local artist and long-standing member of the Rotary Club and the Pend Oreille Arts Council, passed away in 2004.

The Sandpoint Arts Commission promoted the sidewalk murals program as a pilot program in 2007.

"We’re not sure how well the murals will withstand the plows and the winter," Bramblee said.

The incoming mayor of Sandpoint, Gretchen Heller, painted a square. Heather Guthrie, Kate and Gail Lyster, a mother and daughter team, Lisa VanDerkaar, Nick Bopp, Tammy Farmin, Dorothy Modafferi, Rory McCambly and Joan Bramblee each added their unique talents to the sidewalks.

"I typically use color-pencil," Bramblee said. "Using acrylic paint on a sidewalk was a really interesting experience."

Bramblee said she designed her sidewalk piece so that it would look like a true aerial view. She incorporated water because an underground creek flows beneath Farmin Park.

The murals were coated with a sealant, but only time, and the severity of the winter, will tell how well it shields the paintings. If the artwork stands, Bramblee said more paintings would be commissioned next year.

According to Bramblee, a couple of groups are interested in painting murals on the Sand Creek pedestrian bridge, and SAC hopes to help pool together resources for that project. Hydrant painting, another project SAC spearheads, will continue next spring.

"One of the things that helps us move forward," Bramblee said, "is that Sandpoint is known as one of the top small art communities in the country."

Anyone interested in SAC can contact Joan Bramblee at 208-263-3370 or visit the website at www.cityofsandpoint.com and link to the Arts Commission.

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Desire Aguirre Desire Aguirre lives in Sandpoint with her daughter, DaNae, and numerous pets. An LCSC student, she plans on graduating May, 2009, with a bachelors in communication. Her favorite sport is riding her horse, Splash-of-Paint, into the wilderness with Cholo, her son's faithful dog.

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