Artwork adorns Main Street in Colfax as painters display their pride in the Palouse.
For seven years, artists have designed banners that hang along Colfax’s main road. What began as a simple attempt to bring art into the town expanded into a yearly competition with divisions for youth and adult.
Beginning artists and advanced painters alike submit entries for judging, according to Debbie Snell, secretary of the Colfax Arts Council. The general theme of the artwork over the years has revolved around the idea of the "natural Palouse" environment.
Past pieces have included abstract, cubist, realist and cartoon techniques, Snell said. With the exception of vulgarity and obscene sexuality, artists have free reign over their designs.
Prior entries have come from WSU students and Lewiston residents. Snell said she likes the impact that the contest has on the broad community, both for children and adults.
"I think it really engenders a sense of participation," Snell said. "We’re trying to get people excited about having an activity in downtown Colfax."
The designs hang along Main Street for several weeks, during which time people can vote for their favorites. Art supplies and cash donations are prizes for the top two winners in the adult division, and top winner for the children’s.
The contest culminates with a "meet-the-artists" reception where anyone can come and directly ask questions about the artwork.
Loretta Paulson, owner of Loretta’s Beauty Salon in Colfax, is participating in the contest for the third time. She enjoys the fact that entrants don’t need to be veteran artists to participate.
"I hadn’t done anything artistic since high school," Paulson said.
Despite competing against more seasoned artists, Paulson feels confident. She encourages people to participate, regardless of their skill level.
"If you want to do a banner, the arts council will help you," Paulson said. "You shouldn’t be afraid to try it."
The fact that the program includes Colfax youth is a major benefit, said Peggy Bryan, business manager of the Colfax Public Library. In a small town known primarily for its athletics, Bryan believes it is important to hang on to art.
"Not everyone is into sports," Bryan said. "It’s good to diversify."
She said she likes that the library hosts the artist reception, as well as other artistic events throughout the year.
"People care about the community and are willing to invest in it," Bryan said.
This year, the ceremony is at 7 p.m. on June 6 in the Colfax Public Library. Refreshments will be provided.