Fabulous faces

Portrait of a Town project unveiled in downtown Cd'A

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Tim and Wanda Quinn stand together in front of the new "Portrait of a Town" art exhibit Sunday in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

Gloria Waggoner has the sort of face that stands out.

An effortless smile, alert eyes. Some starting wrinkles that warm her face rather than age it.

But many may not know what else defines the Coeur d'Alene woman.

Like how she played a role in the building of the Kroc Center, where she is now program director, and that she works with multiple organizations to promote the arts in North Idaho.

"People. Simply people and the joy of seeing quality of life," Waggoner said of why she gets involved. "It's all about building community."

Fortunately for Coeur d'Alene, many here share the sentiment.

To get an idea of just how many, visit the brick wall on the west side of Pita Pit on Sherman Avenue.

Displayed there is the painstakingly cobbled art project Portrait of A Town, featuring portraits of 220 Kootenai County residents like Waggoner who contribute to the community.

At Sunday's official unveiling of the project, creator Barbara Mueller said she tried to include a diverse swath of the local population.

"We weren't looking to get only the officials, only the volunteers," the Coeur d'Alene artist said.

The constellation of faces includes some perhaps better known than others. There is Coeur d'Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem, Coeur d'Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman, prominent businessman and Hayden Mayor Ron McIntire.

But there are also juggling kids from Sorensen Magnet School, volunteers from sundry nonprofits, teachers, small business owners.

Mueller had a new favorite subject every day, she said.

"(A subject) would say, 'I work for this nonprofit, and there is one and a half paid people and 70 volunteers.' I would hear that all the time," Mueller said. "Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That's what it's all about. That's what Coeur d'Alene is all about."

Mueller's interviews of each subject will be available at portraitofatown.com in July, she said.

Portions of the interviews can be downloaded now on smartphones from a sign beside the display.

"I feel like I'm looking at a wall of my friends," said Mueller, who has been photographing and editing since April. "They've been in my life every day the last few months."

Kathy Hlebichuk had her picture taken on Saturday beside her portrait in the display.

The Post Falls woman was chosen, she said, because of her work with the regional chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

"I did it nine years by myself, and then I was able to get a team together," said Hlebichuk, whose sister died of pancreatic cancer 12 years ago. "It's just a cancer you just don't know about, and funding for research is really sad. We try to create awareness and raise funds. This organization is doing a great job."

She hopes the art project might help her cause, she said.

"I was very humbled," she said of being included.

Former state senator Mary Lou Reed is also featured in the display with her husband, attorney Scott.

"I think it's just dazzling to be have this quality of pictures," Mary Lou said, scanning the black and white visages. "Every wrinkle we have, her camera caught everything."

She lauded the project as capturing the feel of the area.

"This gives a visual sense of the community," she said.

The project will be on display for a year. Mueller said the Coeur d'Alene Public Library Foundation has also become involved to hopefully archive and continue the project.

Coeur d'Alene resident Jan Carr was impressed as she stared at the display.

"It just looks very urban and interesting," Carr said. "I like the black and white. I like how it's all unified."

Adding that she knows about 50 percent of the subjects, Carr lauded the exposure of beloved members of the area.

"It's incredible art," she said.

Kelly Lattin gazes at the "portrait of a town" installment as she and Ruth Pratt, director of the Coeur d'Alene Library Foundation, pack up after the unveiling Sunday afternoon.


Tim Grothman looks at the many faces shown on the "portrait of a town" installment in Sherman Park Sunday.

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