Colfax Arts Council Paints the Town

Through an ambitious volunteer-led project, the Colfax Arts Council is giving the eastern Washington town of Colfax a public-art makeover. At a community celebration on October 3, 2019, the town toasted four new public murals and an outdoor installation along the Concrete River featuring fish colorfully painted by school children and community residents.

Debby Stinson, the president of the Colfax Arts Council, described the project’s vision as public art that could attract visitors and also make the community feel good. “When you’re revitalizing a town and want people to know about it, if you create a wonderful backdrop for photos to be shared on social media the town gets more notice,” she said.

Established regional artists designed the murals with plenty of input from city officials, building owners and other stakeholders. The murals are on four downtown buildings:

  • Spokane artistMelissa Cole painted a landscape of native flowers and bees with recycled glass mosaic elements on the Dusty Attic building.
  • Pullman artistCori Dantini added whimsical wheat stalks, flowers and wildlife to the Bully For You building.
  • Colfax painter and art teacher Henry Stinson painted  a pair of American Gothic-style robots with a pitchfork on the side of Fonk’s Coffee House.
  • Spokane artist Yelena Yunin’s design features koi fish and lily pads at the Colfax City Pool facility.

The 3,744 hand-painted fish soon to be installed on the fence along the river have been painted by an untold number of established, aspiring, and occasional artists in school and at community fish-painting parties. When the installation is completed in the summer of 2020, Colfax (pop. 2,860) will realize Debby Stinson’s vision of having “more art than people.”

The project was so successful and brought together so much of the community that the Colfax Arts Council, which raised $32,000 and spearheaded this year’s effort, plans to apply for more grants to continue the projects next year.