The Coeur d’Alene Press – Local News, Storm drain art can look like tempests of beauty – Google Alerts

As Coeur d’Alene traffic kicked puffs of dirt along the corner of Second and Sherman, Willow Tree shrugged her shoulders in resignation.

“I have to remind myself,” she said with a smile, “I’m painting in the street. I should expect dirt.”

Tree is one of many tasked with creating very specific forms of art. While street paintings (official or otherwise) usually find their homes on the walls of businesses or near the entrances to tunnels and bridges, city officials want Tree and others to use some of its 2,700 storm drains as their canvases.

The project is part of the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission’s drive to display aesthetically pleasing art while teaching visitors and residents alike that what finds its way into a storm drain ends up in either the community’s aquifer or in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

“The city put out a call for help,” Tree said. “They want to bring to attention that everything from the storm drain ends up in the water we use every day. It’s important we protect our resources, and it starts with reminding people how easy it is to help.”

Each artist is assigned a storm drain and a mission to educate and inspire as best he or she can, a project hailed by local environmental groups as a positive step.

“This is important,” Amy Anderson of Kootenai Environmental Alliance said. “The city has 150 miles of hard pipe and 12 main outfalls. There’s no filters to protect our environment from larger pieces of debris; none. There’s no stopping anything like oils and soaps and animal waste and trash once it goes into our storm drains. There’s no filter to protect the lake.”

Anderson said KEA also works with schools to participate in a storm drain stenciling program, but that the organization’s and the city’s shared interests help a common good.

“The more education we can do, the better,” she said. “Raising awareness is paramount to maintaining our environment.”

Julie Rae Clark finished the…

Read the full article at