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Pretty without pretension

| May 5, 2020 12:38 PM

By ELENA JOHNSON

Coeur Voice Correspondent

I often brag about how strong of an art scene we have in Coeur d’Alene despite our relatively small population.

Visiting other small communities, you quickly appreciate how “metropolitan” our county is for its size.

Cities larger than ours don’t have such a large percentage of public art works on street corners, utility boxes, and roundabouts.

Typical towns our size don’t boast so many art galleries – or active artists – as we do either.

Heck, we even have an art walk and an annual festival that takes over half of downtown Coeur d’Alene for a weekend (that’s Art on the Green for those of you newer to our community).

Thanks to our artists, galleries, arts commissions – and our supportive community – we’ve managed to create a steady arts scene.

Our love of public art speaks to our appreciation for skill and beauty, as well as for the county – after all you don’t put in the work to dress up a home you can’t wait to move out of. Why would it be any different for a home-town?

But it also says a lot about our small-town whimsy.

If you caught the April 8 Press edition, or if you’ve visited Independence Point, you’ll know we have a new addition to our growing register of public works.

“Dicey,” a giant metal playing die balanced playfully on one corner now rests near the entrance of City Park.

Although most of the city’s artworks are the result of careful creative deliberation, “Dicey’s” origin is unique.

Most likely an abandoned water tank that washed up on Lake Coeur d’Alene one fateful day nearly three years ago, “Dicey” represents chance encounters – and embracing opportunities.

After sitting in storage for a while, the City of Coeur d’Alene decided to restore “Dicey,” whose white stickers were tragically losing their adhesion, and offer it for public enjoyment.

Making art out of potentially abandoned trash is like making lemonade out of old lemons you find at the back of the fridge and can’t believe are still good.

It’s also not the only instance of North Idaho whimsy-cum-public works.

A few years ago, a group of Shoshone County locals, including late Press correspondent David Bond, decided that the Center of the Universe is located nowhere other than a downtown Wallace intersection.

Of course, they had had a few beers.

But, hey, you can’t prove it isn’t.

In honor of this miraculous discovery (or unshatterable conspiracy), a new storm drain was commissioned and each corner of the intersection of Bank and Sixth now bears a sign declaring the “Center of Universe” with an arrow.

We may be a rapidly growing and metropolitan-izing community slowly amassing a sophisticated art collection, but not at the expense of losing our small town charm and sense of humor.

So welcome “Dicey” to our hallowed – and humorous – collection of North Idaho public works.

If you don’t bring us any luck, at least you’re giving us something to smile about.

And hey, you can visit both the Center of the Universe and “Dicey” without violating social distancing.