‘Local stories’ on display during 46th annual ArtWalk

POAC Artist of the Year Jenny Benoit shares her origins and inspirations

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

Opening receptions for the 46th annual ArtWalk, one of the Pend Oreille Arts Council’s most iconic and beloved traditions, are scheduled for Friday, June 16 from 5-8 p.m. at nearly 30 locations throughout Sandpoint. Those receptions are the kickoff to two months of opportunities for local art hounds, who will have the chance to view work from ArtWalk artists through Friday, Sept. 15.

“Serenity” by Jenny Benoit.

POAC Art Administrator Claire Christy told the Reader that this year’s ArtWalk will feature “emerging artists and fresh locations,” including The Pickled Kitchen and The Peppered Mercantile, both on First Avenue, and The Speak Easy, which occupies the former home of the Ross Hall Gallery (323 N. First Ave.).

One of the artists featured in this year’s ArtWalk is POAC’s 2023 Artist of the Year, Sandpoint woman Jenny Benoit, whose acrylic creations will be on display at Artworks Gallery (214 N. First Ave.) during the event.

Benoit shared with the Reader her “defining moment” as an artist, which occurred at only 5 years old.

“I found this little plastic table at a garage sale,” she recalled. “I had my allowance — a dollar — and I bought it. I sat there, with one of those bendable lamps, and that was my drawing station.

“I loved it so much,” she continued. “I remember looking out the window and seeing my sister playing with the neighborhood kids and thinking, ‘That’s fun, but this is so where I’d rather be.’”

The artist herself. Courtesy photo.

Benoit’s childhood was peppered with every excuse to make art, including contests that earned her awards and even a trip to the Ice Capades.

“It’s just been a part of me,” she said.

Holding college degrees in studio art, art history and visual communication, Benoit has dabbled in the realms of both physical creation on canvas and the world of graphic design. The mother of five spent a considerable amount of time dedicated only to commissioned work until recently when, with her youngest now in school full time, she’s been able to lean into her own interests and desires.

Chief among those interests is nature. Benoit’s acrylic paintings depict animals, plants and landscapes in vibrant color and stark detail, all the while accessing a dimension of the subject that goes beyond what’s perceivable with the naked eye.

Her most recent series superimposes nature scenes inside of animals.

“This has been me developing as myself,” she said of the paintings, which so far include a moose, bear, wolf and trout. “This brings emotion to me.”

Benoit said she hopes to create work that reflects “the heart of the animal and this world that we live in.”

“That’s what I want other people to feel: the beauty of these majestic animals and the strength  of the Earth and what’s around us,” she added. “We are so small.”

“Colors of the Heart,” by Jenny Benoit.

As for what animal will be featured next in the series, Benoit said she is waiting for inspiration to strike.

“I’m rolling with it, and having a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m thankful, just really thankful.”

Benoit shares her gratitude as an active volunteer and committee member with POAC’s Joyce Dillon Studio, teaching art to adults. She also serves as a docent for children through POAC’s Kaleidoscope art education program in local schools.

She said she was shocked to earn recognition as POAC’s Artist of the Year.

“It was totally not even on my radar,” she said. “It was a complete surprise.”

Benoit said she would encourage people to come out for ArtWalk because it is one of the most authentic chances to get a glimpse into the spirit of the community.

“It’s a wonderful time for local stories to be told,” she said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and you’ve got a thousand pictures to see.”

For all the details on 2023 ArtWalk, go to artinsandpoint.org/artwalk. Those with questions can reach POAC at 208-263-6139. Also as part of the Friday, June 16 receptions, POAC will announce its forthcoming 2023-2024 Performings Arts Series. Though currently located at 110 Main Street, the nonprofit will move into its new location at 313 Second Ave. by the end of summer.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.