By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff Writer
When Pend Oreille Art Council’s arts administrator Hannah Combs prepared for her first ArtWalk last year, she knew it was a long-standing tradition.
What she didn’t know was just how much Sandpoint looked forward to ArtWalk.
“I was impressed and a little surprised last year, my first year, by the overwhelming support we receive for this event,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting the sheer number of people, and the people I’d never seen (at POAC events) before coming out for ArtWalk.”
ArtWalk kicks off Friday, June 16, with receptions at every location housing artwork during the nearly three-month-long citywide art tour. Combs said every location will have food and drinks Friday night, and some will even have live music. Specific information about locations and artists can be found in the ArtWalk brochure, available all over town starting Thursday.
“(The brochure is) a good source for people who are maybe visiting town, or maybe just haven’t done the ArtWalk before, and even for people who are coming back, because the vendors change every year, the artists change every year,” she said.
Combs said ArtWalk usually averages around 25 vendors, and with 30 vendors last year, she said POAC felt like “that was a lot.” That is until this year, when 42 locations signed up to house over 100 artists.
“We said, ‘Hey, it’s our 40th anniversary, so we’re going to try and get 40 venues to be a part of it,’” she said. “And we did — we got more than we were even hoping for.”
Participants can pick up an ArtWalk passport at any participating location, and once they earn 10 stamps on their passport proving they’ve visited that many locations, they can turn it into the POAC office and be entered into a drawing for a season pass to POAC’s Performing Arts Series and other prizes. Combs said participants have all three months of ArtWalk to complete their passport.
She said she loves that the event covers the entire town in artwork, and that the timing couldn’t be better. Summer brings an influx of people, and those people are getting to see an even further beautified version of Sandpoint. Combs said while this is well known as a recreational area, ArtWalk sheds light on the thriving arts community.
“To be able to be the vehicle for really boosting that image and getting artwork plastering this entire town — that’s really exciting,” she said.
Artist Maria Larson has participated in nearly a decade of ArtWalks, and said the receptions are always well attended.
“I think people in general are hungry for art and this is just a really nice opportunity for enjoying that camaraderie and community,” Larson said. “It’s great when the arts bring people together like that.”
Even though Larson has her art on display at Northwest Handmade Furniture year-round, she said ArtWalk is a unique time of year because there are more people out and about seeking exposure to artwork of all kinds.
“People are genuinely looking at all the art. Even if they don’t like it, or if it’s not something they’re familiar with — they really look at it and I think that’s great,” Larson said.
She said many of her friends only live in the area seasonally, and often their first encounter of the year is at ArtWalk.
“When you create a venue where (people) can see (art), they will come,” she said. “It’s the art that brings them down, and then the social gathering part really comes after.”
Combs said she expects that hunger for art and community loyalty to ArtWalk will be on full display Friday night at the receptions around town.
“People expect it, and they love it, and they’ll come out hopefully rain or shine,” she said.
Here is a list of the locations to view art during POAC’s 40th annual ArtWalk:
•Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters
•Lisa Turner Photography
•Misty Mountain Furniture
•Red Chair Studio
•Pend Oreille Winery
•Nieman’s Floral & Garden
•Idaho Pour Authority
•Year Round Co.
•Baxter’s on Cedar
•Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers
•Hen’s Tooth Gallery
•Pend Oreille Arts Council
•Cedar Glen Gallery/Jerry Ferrara
•Music Conservatory of Sandpoint
•Lisa V. Art Studio
•La Chic Boutique
•Sandpoint Arts Commission:
The Silver Box Project
•Serendipity Unique Boutique
•Toad Alley Picture Framing
•Loaf & Ladle
•Art Place Sandpoint
•Monarch Mountain Coffee
•Columbia Bank & Tango Cafe