By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
When it came to inspiration for her art, Eileen Klatt simply followed the current of her life, leading her to her most-loved muse: fish.
“Fish have been one of my favorite subjects since I began learning to paint,” said Klatt, who grew up in the Columbia River Basin but now resides in Hope. “I focused on local species early in my professional career, but when the Snake River Sockeye were placed on the endangered species list in 1991, my attention began turning to salmon.”
A partner with Northwest Artists Against Extinction, Klatt remains focused on spreading awareness of threats to salmon through her paintings. Her most recent efforts have gone toward a collaborative, traveling mural project titled “United for Salmon,” which launched in fall 2022 with the help of young artists at the Youth Salmon Celebration in Lewiston.
Composed of several four-by-two-foot panels, the mural features Klatt’s salmon drawings painted both in both realism and abstract styles by other contributing artists.
Klatt will present the mural at the Sandpoint Senior Center (820 Main St.) on Wednesday, June 7 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. as part of the East Bonner County Library District’s twice-monthly outreach with Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc. Those who wish to attend the luncheon should call 208-263-6860 to make reservations.
Afterward, “United for Salmon” will be on display at the Sandpoint library branch (1407 Cedar St.).
“I would like the mural to continue to grow in size and scope,” Klatt told the Reader, noting that the project also receives support from the activist group Save Our Salmon Coalition. “It is intended to be a traveling installation in service of public education, awareness and involvement in the effort to restore salmon to their native habitats.”
Klatt said she is open to expanding the mural through more local collaboration, and encourages anyone interested — particularly art teachers with students who may want to contribute — to reach her at [email protected] or 208-946-1172.
“This is appropriately a very fluid project without a fixed timetable, but I have drawings of 55 more pairs of mating salmon ready to go,” she said. “I trust that the project itself will determine the direction it takes as time goes on.”
View Klatt’s work at klattfish.net. For more about the efforts behind the mural, go to wildsalmon.org or nwaae.org.
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