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A Gaggle of Galleries 

by CARRIE SCOZZARO & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & f ever there were an event to give you a sense of place in Sandpoint, it would be ArtWalk. This annual arts event from June through September encapsulates the spirit of Sandpoint, a town that juxtaposes breathtaking scenery and resort appeal with hometown familiarity and eclectic style.

Beginning on Friday, ArtWalk transforms local businesses into galleries showcasing local, regional and even national and international artists (see sidebar). While not as large as Spokane's "First Friday," Sandpoint's ArtWalk is truly walkable. It's a social event -- definitely family-friendly -- and free, with many of the 24 locations hosting opening receptions (beginning at 5:30 pm). And later that evening, the Arts Alliance sponsors a groovy Summer Solstice block party celebrating the longest day of the year with music, dancing, food and plenty of cheer.

More than 60 artists are participating in the 22nd annual ArtWalk, which is put on by Pend Oreille Arts Council (POAC). The exhibitions range from new to established artists; some exhibit and/or sell their work nationally, while others confine themselves to local shows. Tom Kramer and Robens Napolitan, for example, opted to move away from the Portland art scene years ago, exhibiting their colorful mixed-media paintings locally at galleries like Stage Right Cellars.

Like Napolitan's and Kramer's often-whimsical work, the playful side of Sandpoint is expressed by artists like Leata Judd, who will be exhibiting her mixed-media sculpture at Taylor-Parker Motor Company along with other members of the Northwest Papier-Mache Artists Guild.

Returning for the third year, a group of regional painters who work "en plein air" (out of doors) will again be featured at Timberstand Gallery (from June 18-20). The sense of place they describe with loose brushstrokes and impressionistic colorwork ranges from the glistening turquoise of an alpine lake to the apple green of a grassland on a sultry summer day. Artists to look for include Jerry Markham, Aaron Cordell Johnson and Dalas Klein (also exhibiting at nearby Redtail Gallery).

In addition to plein air painters, the Northwest has a large number of talented photographers. At Coldwater Creek, in-house photographers Drew Meredith, Alan Lemire and Jeff Strauss are at the company's upstairs wine bar. The trio, who market their work via, depict snippets of daily life, sexy food and wine photos, the abstract patterns of dry lake beds and a whole lot in between.

Doing double-duty as Three Glasses Wine Bar master chef, Luigi Ornaghi will show his photographs downstairs in the restaurant and upstairs in their newly opened Loading Dock eatery. His work is accompanied by that of Kalee Peters, daughter of owners John and Darcy -- and Kalee's photography graces the restaurant's logo as well.

Photographer Chris Guibert articulates the youthful spirit of Sandpoint, taking you on location down mountain bike trails, through fresh powder, or deep into a rockin' night out dancing. In his exhibit at fellow photographer Woods Wheatcroft's new gallery, Guibert takes you "To the Source," narrating a recent trip to Oaxaca's Mezcal tequila operations with full-color photos and hand-painted captions. And, of course, there is an unprecedented exhibit by Viggo Mortensen at Hallans Gallery.

Ironically, although Sandpoint has a reputation as an artsy town, the major outpouring of arts activity takes place during ArtWalks I and II (June 20-July 28 and Aug. 1-Sept. 8). Up until recently, there were only a handful of galleries consistently exhibiting artwork -- namely GoodWorks, Northwest Handmade, Timberstand, and the interior space of the Power House, where POAC maintains an office. New to the scene are Redtail Gallery and Wheatcroft Photography Studio 524 in the "old granary district" along Church and Sixth Avenue. They provide a signal that Sandpoint is expanding venues to host the many talented artists who call North Idaho home.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & L & lt;/span & ike the true Renaissance man, Viggo Mortensen embodies the arts: poet, musician and -- the role for which he is best known -- actor. He's the ruggedly handsome Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Oscar-nominated Nikolai in Eastern Promises. In A Perfect Murder, he plays a painter -- using his own real-life paintings (which are often abstract, featuring bits of his poetry and other narrative).

In a show opening on June 20, Sandpoint's ArtWalk audiences will see Mortensen in the role of visual artist. He will display six panoramic pieces inspired by 2003 photos of a recreation of Lakota Ghost Dancers at the original site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. It's from his "Miyelo" exhibition, which debuted at Los Angeles' Stephen Cohen Gallery and was featured in a book of the same name published by Perceval Press.

Mortensen, who will not be at the opening but is expected the following week for another function, became familiar with Hallans Gallery through his brother, with whom he is building a home in nearby Clark Fork. Sales proceeds will be donated to the Clark Fork Coalition and the Tri-State Water Quality Council, according to Dann Hall, who owns Hallans Gallery along with his mother, Hazel.

Hallans was founded by Dann's father, Ross, a pioneering photographer who in the 1930s began capturing North Idaho's distinctive culture and climate. Call (208) 263-4704.

"ArtWalk I" in participating businesses throughout Sandpoint from June 20-July 28. Hours vary. Opening receptions on Friday, June 20, from 5:30-8 pm. Free. Visit or call (208) 263-6139. Summer Solstice Celebration on Friday, June 20, from 8-11 pm and on Saturday, June 21, from 9 am-9 pm behind the Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave. Visit or call (208) 265-4303.

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