Capelli’s art beautifies UI campus

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(Photo courtesy DIAMOND KOLOSKI/University of Idaho Argonaut photographer) UI senior and 2014 Sandpoint High School graduate Danielle Capelli shows off her winning mural last month on the side of Art and Architecture East building at the University of Idaho.

SANDPOINT — Sometimes the best artwork is unintentional.

At least it was for Sandpoint native and University of Idaho senior Danielle Capelli anyway. 

Capelli, an art education student at UI, said she started a painting last year during one of her classes at the college.

"I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before, and I haven’t done a whole lot of geometric stuff, so I started painting this thing and it ends up being mostly different shades of yellow and different shades of gray," Capelli said. "I thought it looked OK, and I was going to add more stuff on top of it, but then it kind of got pushed to the side."

In the meantime, an effort was launched to "beautify" the campus last year, with UI officials taking submissions of photographs, paintings and other artwork to vinyl-wrap the green power boxes around campus. While Capelli wanted to make a submission, the timing didn't work out, so when UI President Chuck Staben and his wife decided to push the effort further this year, she saw her chance.

The Art and Architecture East building was commandeered in the last year or so, Capelli said, when before it was an old warehouse. The shades of yellow and gray were similar to UI's Vandal colors of silver and gold. For that reason, she decided to submit the work in the contest that would put her art on east wall of the building. But when she went to digitally edit the painting so it would fit the length of the building, she accidentally hit the "auto color" button.

"It changed all the colors and made them look really like 'art-deco' style, like ‘20s and ‘30s stained-glass," Capelli said. "On a whim, I decided to submit both of them."

Faculty voted on the first round of submissions and once they narrowed it down, the public voted on the finalists. Capelli's accidental piece, which included shades of red and teal added to the yellows and grays, was chosen as one of two works of art to occupy the wall. Her painting went up on the wall in early October, and the other piece, created by a 2015 UI graduate, Darci Deaton, will go up in the spring.

Capelli, who graduated from Sandpoint High School in 2014, said she has always loved nearly all of the humanities. She was always the "music girl," so she always assumed she would pursue a major and a career in music. She initially attended UI for music education, but after a year and a half, she realized she needed a change. Learning music in a rigorous academic atmosphere was becoming stressful, she said.

"I was worried that learning it academically might ruin music as a hobby for me, so I decided that wasn’t worth it," Capelli said. "I couldn’t imagine going through life having a hate for music, or not having an interest in it because of something making it a negative experience."

Her degree now is in secondary art education with a minor in music and musical theater. She said her SHS art teacher, Heather Guthrie, and choir teacher Jon Brownell, had a "huge" impact on the two things she is studying.

In the fall of 2018, Capelli said she will spend a semester teaching, possibly in Boise, as part of UI’s education program. She plans to teach art at the high school level, but eventually wants to go back to school and earn a master’s to teach at the college level.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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