Sentimental Sandpoint

Local artist and teacher Randy Wilhelm creates works of art to memorialize Sandpoint’s past

By Claire Christy
Reader Contributor

Many Sandpoint natives know Randy Wilhelm, the graphic design and art instructor at Lake Pend Oreille High School. Randy was born and raised in Sandpoint and has held his position at LPOHS for 23 years. 

A painting of the former Harold’s IGA grocery store by Randy Wilhelm.

“I teach in the same room that was my third-grade classroom, in the building where I went to elementary school, just down the road from where I grew up,” Wilhelm wrote in his artist biography for Pend Oreille Arts Council. “So, it is safe to say that in the past 39 years since my high-school graduation, I have made it a block from home.”

Wilhelm and those who have grown up in the Sandpoint area have witnessed many changes taking place in their little town. They saw the Panhandle Mill building on Fifth Avenue come down in 2005. They saw Harold’s IGA grocery store come down in 2006. Nostalgia and sentimentality prompted Wilhelm to create his Sandpoint Series. The series memorializes past and present Sandpoint local favorites. Harold’s IGA, Panhandle Mill and The Tervan are a few from the series.

The landscape of the Sandpoint area inspires Wilhelm’s favorite art to create: scenery and wildlife — especially fish. When he worked at Keokee Publishing, he had the opportunity to work on Flyfisher Magazine, where he had several of his works published.

Wilhelm’s work is known to address political and social issues, as well. He tells students in his art class, “I don’t care if you love it or hate it, as long as you can’t walk by it and ignore it.” Wilhelm’s art students often participate in POAC’s Student Art Show as well as the Art for Human Rights exhibit.

“I am grateful we have an organization like Pend Oreille Arts Council to help promote the arts in Sandpoint,” he said. “I have been involved with POAC for more years than I can remember — literally. I helped as a volunteer for many years and was even a member of the board at one point. POAC provides opportunities for artists of all levels to display their works to the public. I particularly appreciate the student art show each year, which gives my students a chance to show off their creative creations.”

To see Randy Wilhelm’s work and the work of other featured local artists, visit or visit the POAC gallery at 110 Main St., Suite 101, inside the Music Conservatory building. The gallery is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays through December.

Claire Christy is the arts coordinator for the Pend Oreille Arts Council.

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