Taking downtime in stride

Pend Oreille Arts Council updates Main Street gallery space

By Reader Staff

Since 1978, the people behind the Pend Oreille Arts Council have made it their mission to bring art to Sandpoint. When Executive Director Tone Lund and Arts Coordinator Claire Christy started at POAC in February 2020, they knew they were inheriting a legacy.

A panoramic view of the revamped gallery space at POAC in downtown Sandpoint. Courtesy photo.

Just as they were settling into their new positions, COVID-19 made its appearance in the U.S. The following shutdown turned the art world upside-down. The need for the arts remained, and in some ways, it was greater than before. Artists were at home creating, while others were looking for art to remind them that beauty still exists.

“We had to figure out how to move forward while staying still,” POAC President Carol Deaner said. “I tasked Tone and Claire with coming up with a unique and attractive way to exhibit the quantity of art that our local artists were producing.”

During the shutdown, renovations were taking place all over Sandpoint. Restaurants and retailers made changes to their spaces, hoping to reemerge better than before. POAC staff decided to follow suit with renovations to the nonprofit’s small gallery space. A vision came to mind: a gallery space unique to Sandpoint, and something special for viewers to see upon their return.

POAC staff decided on a salon-style gallery. Salon-style hanging started in the 17th century at the Royal Academy in Paris. Year-end exhibits displayed the work of both students and masters, resulting in a large volume of paintings to arrange. The artwork was hung from floor to ceiling in groupings.

“Using this style of hanging would not only create a space unique to Sandpoint, but would also allow several local artists to show a variety of mediums, subject matter and sizes,” Deaner said.

When hanging artwork salon-style, a problem presents itself: displaying artwork from floor to ceiling, and rotating it frequently, would cause the walls to quickly become freckled with nail holes. Brian Grise, of Grise & Co. Woodworking, consulted on the issue and suggested a French-cleat hanging system. Typically used in wood shops and garages, French-cleats lend themselves well to art galleries. It’s secure enough to hold heavy pieces, and the picture hook attachments allow the artwork to be replaced and relocated easily.

Today, the variety of artwork filling the walls at the POAC gallery takes the viewer on a visual adventure. The small space displays work from local painters, photographers and jewelers. A mural of blue herons adorns the front door, and an osprey surprise waits in the back. There is sure to be something for everyone at the POAC gallery.

See the gallery in person at 110 Main Street, Suite 101, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., or peruse the artwork on display 24/7 at artinsandpoint.org.

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