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Sandpiper launches Art4Polson initiative

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | April 18, 2024 12:00 AM

The community of Polson is about to become several shades more vibrant, thanks the Art4Polson public art initiative recently launched by Sandpiper Art Gallery and Gifts.

The volunteer nonprofit art center located on Main Street is working with the City of Polson and the Montana Department of Transportation to bring public art – such as designs to beautify traffic control boxes and outdoor murals – to the community.

“We hope to involve more people and local area artists to help us fulfill our mission of enhancing the quality of community life through the fine arts,” said Sandpiper Board member Sue Arneson.

The Polson Commission unanimously passed a resolution in early February that states in part that the city “recognizes the mission of Sandpiper Art Gallery to beautify the City of Polson through art and is open to future partnerships towards that end.”

City Commissioner Jen Ruggless, a proponent of the city’s involvement in the initiative, hopes the art outreach will especially benefit kids, since art can offer a powerful tool for self-expression, and in general will help “get citizens together to celebrate art in Polson.”

Mayor Eric Huffine believes public art will enhance the community, just as the hanging flower baskets that adorn Main Street each summer are an attraction for locals and visitors alike.

“As a businessman, I just think the more draws we have to our community the better off we’re all going to be,” he said.

Gallery members are currently raising funds for the Art4Polson campaign. They have set up a donation link at SandpiperArtGalleryandGifts.com. Members also are planning art raffles, fostering collaborations with foundations and donors, and writing grants.

Over the next two years, the gallery and the City of Polson will announce Calls for Art, beginning with an open and inclusive call for Polson artists to design art to wrap six traffic signal boxes. The gallery is also planning to invite artists to design and coordinate the painting of large murals on public buildings throughout the city parks and on the Polson Golf Course. 

Arneson hopes the initiative will help the public become more aware of the wealth of artists who reside in and around Polson. 

“The Sandpiper Gallery is trying to really up its game by incorporating art into the city in general,” she said, adding that the gallery’s membership has nearly doubled in recent years. "We want to celebrate the art and the artists in the community – there are so many!" 

According to Charlie Fudge, a longstanding member of Sandpiper, the gallery’s selection team for the traffic box project will include representatives from the Polson Chamber of Commerce,  Salish Kootenai College art department, Polson Schools art departments and other entities within the Polson area, as well as an independent public art and educational consultant.

Sandpiper Art Gallery and Gifts boasts a 52-year history of nonprofit work encouraging and showcasing local artists. The gallery offers six shows of local art each year, sponsors two summer art festivals and regular art workshops, and gives annual scholarships to college-bound art students in Lake and Sanders counties. 

The Gallery’s current art show, “Kaleidoscope of Colors,” is a non-juried multi-media exhibit on display through May 10. The gallery is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays at 306 Main Street in Polson.