Where fine arts meet the law: ARTS association brightens up Snoqualmie, North Bend police stations

Snoqualmie Valley ARTS board members Dick Ryon, Dick Burhans and Meilan Hom hang a display at the North Bend sheriff’s substation. - Courtesy photo
Snoqualmie Valley ARTS board members Dick Ryon, Dick Burhans and Meilan Hom hang a display at the North Bend sheriff’s substation.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A police station lobby is just about the last place you might expect to encounter fine art.

Leave it to the Snoqualmie Valley ARTS Association to slip paintings by homegrown artists into unconventional galleries where foot traffic is pretty much constant.

In recent weeks, sets of paintings have been installed at North Bend’s King County Sheriff’s Substation and Snoqualmie Police Department.

Snoqualmie Police Chief Jim Schaffer described the installations as a win for everybody, with art for the stations that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

“It was a pretty easy agreement to get tasteful art and for them to rotate it out every six weeks,” Schaffer said.

“Now there’s a good reason to come into the police station,” said North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner. “It benefits the community and us at the same time, because people can come in here for something good rather than just coming in here to complain.”

When he took over the North Bend substation last year, Toner noticed that the walls of the sheriff’s office were covered with pictures of police officers, boats and helicopters — stuff he saw all the time.

“It wasn’t exciting to me at all,” Toner said. “I wanted to see some nice art.”

Toner’s only criteria was that the art be made by artists from the entire Valley, not just North Bend.

Prior to the new look, Toner said going to the sheriff’s office was like being sent to the principal’s office, “not always a good thing.”

The substation got a new fresh coat of paint in the bargain. Taking cans of extra paint he had used to paint his living room, Toner and his officemates gave the station’s turquoise walls a warmer sheen.

Toner said he is very excited about the art, as he’s seen several people come in just to look at it.

Frequent rotation will give Valley artists more exposure and give the community something different to see in every visit to the station.

“It’ll keep drawing more and more people,” Toner said.

Hoping to add local school art, Toner has given the association responsibility for finding pieces of art from elementary to high school that they recognize as worthy of recognition.

“It’s rewarding to know that our sheriff’s department understands the need to relate to our community and is doing it through art,” said association member Richard Burhans.

Snoqualmie Valley ARTS is a non-profit group whose purpose is to advocate for artists and art education in the Snoqualmie Valley. The group strives to support the Valley’s artist community by promoting performances, displays, education and sales. Their effort aims to enrich the life and prosperity of the Valley.

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