Artists invited to take part in carousel restoration

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(Daily Bee file photo/MARY MALONE) The Carousel of Smiles is initiating the first round of the Art Panel Project with an informational meeting for interested area artists at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 26, at the Sandpoint branch of the East Bonner County Library District.

SANDPOINT — It has been nearly two years since the community got its first look at the historic Carousel of Smiles as it was released from its 64-year slumber.

Since then, community volunteers have taken on the restoration of the 1920 Allan Herschell Carousel. A prominent focus of the carousel are the 14 rounding boards and 14 interior art panels, creating an opportunity for 28 individual artists to become part of the historic carousel and its restoration. As such, the carousel team is taking on the first round of the “Art Panel Project,” in which local artists will have the opportunity to submit their work for consideration.

“Our region has an incredible wealth of quality artists, both professional and non-professional,” said local artist Gabe Gabel, who is spearheading the project, in an email to the Daily Bee. “Artists are drawn to our area to live, and its beauty seems to encourage the development of creativity … Our carousel belongs to all of us, and the more we contribute to it, it makes it even more uniquely ours.”

All artists are invited to an informational meeting on Sept. 26, where Gabel will discuss the specifics of the art project and guidelines for submitting original artwork for consideration. Artists of all ages, professional or amateur, are invited to the meeting.

“It will take a community to complete the carousel,” Gabel said. “All the hands that help are an integral part of bringing it back to its glory, or even better. The ones who do the panel paintings, the rounding boards, the plaques and all the structural members, and also, of course, the ponies, will make it happen. We will have opportunities for all abilities to help paint and we also want to invite our younger community members to take as much part as possible.”

The Carousel of Smiles is a nonprofit organization founded by Clay and Reno Hutchison after they brought the carousel to Sandpoint in 2016.

The carousel was packed into two cargo trailers and stored in a Kansas field when a Midwest traveling fair shut down after the 1952 season and never reopened. The Hutchisons saved the carousel from being broken up and sold at auction when they purchased it 18 years ago. The couple moved it to a storage barn in upstate New York until it was delivered to Sandpoint.

Clay and Reno Hutchison said the art chosen for the project will reflect the town, county and region in a variety of artistic styles, though they were hesitant to give any specific ideas.

“I don’t want to give so many guidelines that the artists then try and second guess what they think might get accepted,” Clay Hutchison said. “... We are looking for you, the artist, to paint to your strengths. It’s about the carousel, but it’s as much about the artists themselves.”

The initial art for the first round of the project will be for the interior art panels. These include 14 decorative, lighted panels with an oval shaped 29- by 22-inch canvas.

The informational meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 26, at the Sandpoint branch of the East Bonner County Library District, 1407 Cedar St.

“I look forward to working with our artists to make the carousel even more of an area icon,” Gabel said. “Paintings that celebrate us and our region done by our people will be a priceless part of it.”

Information: thecarouselofsmiles.org

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

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