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Artists flock to Coeur d’Alene weekend art, food festivals

It’s hard to say where one festival ends and another begins. This weekend in downtown Coeur d’Alene, food, art and entertainment are everywhere.

Artists and vendors have flocked to the Lake City from across the country to put their work on display at three festivals that started Friday and run through Sunday. They include the 47th annual Art on the Green, under the tall pines of North Idaho College; Taste of Coeur d’Alene, on the grassy knolls of City Park; and the city’s downtown Street Fair, on a stretch of Sherman Avenue as far east as Seventh Street.

The festivals were lively on Friday despite temperatures that threatened to reach triple-digits; crowds found respite under trees and pop-up tents. Smells of kettle corn and grilling meats wafted through the air. Vendors churned out iced, fruity beverages. Music could be heard throughout the festivals; a guitarist played in City Park. On Sherman Avenue, children played fiddles.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gary Costa, who paints nature scenes on stone slabs. He and his wife, Carol, both of Coeur d’Alene, started selling their work at art shows two years ago shortly after retiring. He paints, while she selects stones and builds stands that hold the pieces upright.

“I look for patterns in the rocks, and then I try to add to it,” Gary Costa said, showing a round, marbled piece of stone with a painting of a fish woven into it. “Doesn’t this look like a stream?” he asked.

Gary and Carol Costa spend their winters in Arizona, where gem-quality stones are abundant. It takes about 15 hours to paint and varnish each one, he said.

Kent Setty’s specialty is fishing nets. Seventeen years ago, the avid fly fisherman decided to craft his own nets with wood from sustainable Northwestern forests.

A retired Los Angeles police officer who’s lived in Coeur d’Alene for 20 years, Setty forms the nets on a collection of molds he’s built in his garage. The wood is steamed or soaked in warm water to make it pliable, then bent into hoops and sanded smooth.

For Lisa Middleton, maps lead the way to creativity. The Kalispell, Montana, artist digs up old maps in bookstores and libraries, then restores or replicates them with an artistic touch.

“My maps reflect the old style of mapmaking,” she said. Some date back to the 1500s. She views her work as a way of preserving history.

The festivals offer a wide spectrum: Up-close wildlife photography from Mark Schwartznau, of Huson, Montana. Hand-crafted Native American flutes from Rick Gnerich, of Patagonia, Arizona. Intricate metal sculptures from Stuart Hurd, of Priest Lake. Wood-handled knives from Colten Tippetts, of Hidden Springs, Idaho. Those quintessential chainsaw-carved tree stumps from Rocky Bland, of Lewiston.

Art on the Green, with its emphasis on fine art, is presented by the Citizens’ Council for the Arts. Taste of Coeur d’Alene, with more than 100 food and craft vendors, is put on by the Panhandle Kiwanis Club. The Street Fair, with more than 250 food, craft and merchant booths, is organized by the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association.


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