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Explore the Downtown Art Scene

The annual ArtWalk returns to Downtown Sandpoint

By Abigail Thorpe

On July 10, Downtown Sandpoint will once again bustle with a lively arts scene as the Pend Oreille Arts Council (POAC) kicks off the beloved annual ArtWalk. This year promises to be extra special, as the community comes together for one of the first events since COVID-19 to celebrate art, enjoy the revitalized downtown and commune with friends, family and strangers alike.

ArtWalk first started in 1977 in Sandpoint and was adopted by POAC almost a decade later in 1986. “Since then it has gained momentum and become one of Sandpoint’s most anticipated summer events,” says Claire Christy, arts coordinator at POAC.

This year the ArtWalk will serve as an exciting opportunity for businesses that were closed due to COVID-19 to reconnect with customers and the community, all while celebrating and supporting the vibrant art scene that Sandpoint has to offer.

“ArtWalk brings people together in our community,” says Christy. “Business owners and employees build relationships with artists and viewers.” Many businesses utilized the down time during the closure to update or add to their business space, so the event also offers an opportunity to explore and enjoy those businesses you might not have had the chance to visit yet.

POAC made the most of the slow time during shutdown to renovate its office gallery and add a new hanging system that allows them to showcase more artists at once. “It creates a space that is different from any other gallery in Sandpoint,” explains Christy. “We have brought in paintings and photography from local artists who have been consistently creating art in Sandpoint for years.”

As something to look forward to, the opening night of ArtWalk will feature the POAC gallery’s grand opening. “We hope to grow the gallery into something that our community views as special and unique,” says Christy.

Various businesses throughout Downtown Sandpoint will open up to the community as hosts to a specific artist during the ArtWalk. Opening night is July 10 and will feature receptions at each venue for artists from 5:30 until 8pm. “The best time to go is during the opening receptions because the viewer gets a chance to meet the artist and experience the work for the first time as a community,” encourages Christy. “The energy and excitement can be felt in the streets of Sandpoint on opening reception night, and the experiences that viewers have keep them coming back every year.”

After opening night, the ArtWalk will still be open to visitors to explore and enjoy at their own pace, as the event runs through August 28. Individuals and groups can take a leisurely tour of Sandpoint, acquaint themselves with local businesses and enjoy the fantastic art featured in each location. “One of the things that makes ArtWalk great is that it makes local art accessible to everyone, and it leaves space for the viewer to make the tour their own,” explains Christy.

“The art we display starts conversations, which lead to connections,” she adds. “Whether it’s a painting of ‘old Sandpoint’ that makes locals reminisce, or an abstract painting making you ask, ‘What does it mean?,’ it brings strangers together in conversation and appreciation of the arts.”

This year a highlight of the show will be the reopening of a newly improved and renovated downtown space. Road construction blocked off most of First Avenue up until May 15, but the result is a beautiful and walkable downtown with wide sidewalks, hanging plants and space for visitors to enjoy and explore all of the local businesses that make our downtown so unique and vibrant.

“ArtWalk is one of the first community events of the summer, and it seems to me that everyone is looking forward to showing up for the small businesses of Sandpoint and welcoming them back,” says Christy.

All of the featured artists for ArtWalk are from the Sandpoint area, which truly makes this a unique and Sandpoint-focused event. “POAC recruits our local artist members and other local artists for this event, so it is very representative of the diversity in character that we have in the Sandpoint area,” explains Christy. “If we brought in artists from out of the area, I don’t think it would have the same effect or create the same connections.”

There are over 30 businesses participating in the walk this year, including Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, Pend d’Oreille Winery, Hallans Gallery and the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, among many others.

The Music Conservatory has supported and created opportunities for the arts in Sandpoint since its inception, making it a natural participant with the ArtWalk and a must visit downtown. It offers students of all ages the opportunity to develop a passion and skill for music and art through one of its six departments: Piano, Strings, Woodwind, Voice, Theater and Early Childhood Development. The Conservatory also partners with Lake Pend Oreille School District, the Homeschool Academy, LPO Alternative High School, Priest River Lamanna High School and Selkirk School to bring music opportunities directly to school campuses.

The ArtWalk provides the perfect opportunity for the community to explore the various art businesses and galleries involved, including Lisa V Fine Art, Hallans Gallery, Marsha Lutz Photography, Art Works Gallery and Tru Art, and is a celebratory precursor to the 48th annual Arts & Crafts Fair on August 8 and 9.

Presented by POAC, the Arts & Crafts Fair takes place during the day on Second Avenue and Main Street in Downtown Sandpoint, and includes artist booths, food vendors and a youth art arena. Artwork exhibits will include sculpture, ceramics, metal, fiber, photography, paintings, mixed media, wood, crafts and more. Proceeds from the fair go directly to support POAC’s programs in visual and performing arts to help bring art education to the Sandpoint community.

ArtWalk and the Arts & Crafts Fair promise to be fun, inspiring events that will connect the community of Sandpoint and encourage and celebrate the creative spirit of our North Idaho home. To find out more, visit, and make sure to stop by downtown host businesses on opening night to meet the artists behind the work.

Events and activities are subject to change. Contact the Pend Oreille Arts Council for up-to-date information.

A full list of participating businesses are:

Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, Murphy’s Bike Shop, Embodied Virtue, Columbia Bank Community Plaza, Pend d’Oreille Winery, Allstate Insurance: Jason Funk, Nieman’s Floral Market, Eichardt’s Pub, Idaho Pour Authority, Vanderford’s Bookstore, Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, Realty Plus, Lisa V Fine Art, La Chic Boutique, I Saw Something Shiny, Hallans Gallery, Baxter’s on Cedar, Gethsemane Oil & Vinegar Shoppe, Carousel Emporium, Sandpoint Laser Works, Syndicate Tattoo, Marsha Lutz Photography, Grace & Joy, Azalea-Handpicked Style, Northwest Handmade, Zero Point Crystals, Art Works Gallery, Tru Art, Burlwood Dreams, Monarch Mountain Coffee, and The Power House.

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