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City of Art

Funding public art downtown

Published online: Dec 11, 2020 Catherine Smith
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Public art has been a priority of the IFDDC for years. Pieces have slowly been added to the well-known Art You Can Sit on benches. The bench project started in the early 2000s and we currently have over 40 benches spread out between downtown and the Riverwalk area. In late 2018, the IFDDC Board asked, “What’s next?” The answer was to install new murals and wrap the traffic cabinets. All of this took collaboration between downtown property owners, artists, Idaho Falls Power and even Idaho Transportation Department, but we did it!  

Throughout downtown Idaho Falls, the gray traffic cabinets along Yellowstone Highway and Broadway in the downtown district have been wrapped with local artists’ artwork. This artwork was generously provided by The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho from their Permanent Collection. With the local artists’ permission, the museum coordinated the use of the artwork, along with the Idaho Falls Downtown Development’s Public Art Committee. To execute the traffic cabinet wraps, The CHC Foundation generously granted the project $8,500 with matching funds provided by the Idaho Falls Historic Downtown Foundation of $5,000.  

IFDDC invested over $10,000 in funding to commission murals throughout downtown Idaho Falls. Our first mural was done in partnership with the ACLU of Idaho by Idaho Falls artist, Kelly Sheridan. Kelly was selected from over 40 submissions and the mural is about communication, specifically the beauty of American Sign Language. From left to right it says: Ask, Understand, Listen and Look. (A major thank you ro Jeff Neiswanger, who owns the Kress Building, home to Channel Blend where this mural is installed.)

Kelly Sheridan included this statement on the mural, “I hope that you can connect with the meaning of the mural, which is this: It’s sometimes hard to listen to what seems unsavory, see something that seems wrong, understand something new, and ask about something you’d rather not know. However, that’s the only way that we can grow. We can’t assume the worst intent. The world, and people, are more beautiful and forgiving than that. That’s why communication and understanding are so important.”  

Funding for the murals installed last summer came from the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Idaho and the Falls Historic Downtown Foundation. “I love Idaho!” by Kris Burnham is installed on the Villa Coffeehouse on Park Avenue, “Butterflies” by Cherryn Wright is at SnakeBite Restaurant on A Street and of course late last year, we finished the last mural installation with the work of Dustin Lyon on the Willowtree Gallery on Cliff Street.  

Next up, we are excited to explore the installation of murals on the crosswalks throughout downtown and consider some sculptural pieces for newly renovated sidewalks. Stay tuned and keep any eye on your downtown Idaho Falls!   

Click here to read more of our December issue.


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