Interview With: Kris Dills, Owner of Infini Gallery & Studio

December 30, 2015

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What is Infini?                                                                            Infini is an art gallery [on Cedar St. in Sandpoint, Idaho] showing local, international, and regional artists, and we also have studio space for up to 16 people to come in and work.  I went through a couple different names [for the studio]. ‘Infini’ is ‘infinite’ in French.  I want this to be something that lasts forever. We do have some French influence.  France is traditionally the painter’s paradise.

You are a self-taught artist, correct?  How long have you had this dream to open a gallery?  I was published in 1996 in Relix magazine for a concert poster that I did, and I also worked at a graphic design shop doing logos for about a year.  Then life kind of took me in different directions. I needed to do some other type of work that was more sustainable and reliable than artwork, and so I became a plumber. But the whole time, I was creating a few pieces every year.  So this goes back 20 years.

But now you’re finally here and able to do this.  Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.20.49 PM
Yeah, it’s a great spot, and Sandpoint’s a great community for it. I think it’s going to be inspiring for Sandpoint.

What kind of services do you offer?              

Studio Painting Session- We have two sizes of canvas and acrylic paint and brushes, and they each have one fee. Your brushes, your paint, and your time are included in that.

Computer Design Station- You can learn to play with Corel Painter. When someone is working on the Corel Painter program, you’ll be able to see it from the street [on a TV in the window]. Even though the artist thinks no one can see what’s going on, I think that’s going to be eye-catching for people walking by, because it’s out of the ordinary. And what is on the TV when no one is working on the computer? We have three CDs of original cartoons from 1912-1950.

Stress-Relieving Artwork Session- For $7 you can come in for an hour, and we have meditative adult coloring books and coloring pencils, and we have watercolor paper and paint, and we’re letting people take advantage of that as a time-out in your day, one hour to sit down and create something simple.

Classes Taught by Local Artists- Something that’s popular is where a group will get together,  come in, paint, bring your own wine and have a couple of glasses of wine, which I believe probably just peels back that fear of picking up a paintbrush.

Photography- You can bring your ID and take one of our cameras out into town, or on the lake,  and you can take pictures and then bring them back and play with them, or have them developed down the street at ImageMaker. You really let people take cameras out on the lake? Someone asked me that already, and I’m going to do it. I mean, if it’s your driver’s license, that’s pretty important.

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Rob Goldworm
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Sandy Deutchman (detail)

Who are the artists hanging in the gallery right now?                                       We have Carver Kearney, the photographer, and Sandy Deutchman, lifetime painter and retired WSU art teacher- she’s been extremely helpful. Holly Walker is a local artist, she’s aggressive about selling work and knows what she’s doing. We have Kat Brock, another local artist in charcoal and acrylic [showing in POAC’s P1FCU gallery until Jan. 25], and Rob Goldworm, a longtime painter here in town.

What do you offer to Sandpoint that no one else does?                                      A working, public art space where you’re surrounded by influential artists.

Tell me about the inspiration wall.        I don’t want people to come in and be intimidated by all of the other artists that are in the gallery. So I wanted to have a wall that took the edge off, that anyone could throw something up there. So that when you’re in the studio, you don’t feel like you’re in this square box where you have to paint like everyone else. The inspiration wall is kind of supposed to take that edge off a little bit.

Do you seek out artists, or are artists welcome to contact you?                                           Artists are welcome to contact me. I do approach artists, and I will continue to do that, but I want people to come in and introduce themselves. I’d like to keep it fresh.  I want to display them, and I want their influence in my work.

What was the biggest challenge in this journey?                                                                                This building was completely pumpkin orange and yellow, the whole thing. So we had nine gallons of white paint. Every wall took three coats to cover. The other challenge is that I’m doing something that no one else is really doing.  That was probably harder than the white paint. I had a couple mornings where I was like, what am I doing? But I kept pushing it, and it feels good.

Who or what has been your biggest support along the way?                                                      The local artists. It was the first five artists that I met, and each one was so supportive.  They told me how to run a gallery, pricing, hanging, colors, lighting.  I took everyone’s influence.  I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to do it.  We’re still learning, but Sandy and Holly and Carver jumped right in and were very friendly. Those three people were so happy to see what I was doing, and they gave me lots of advice. They kept coming back, and they called, and they brought their work down, and that’s what did it. To have a local artist walk in here and say, wow this is really good, that was my biggest compliment.

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If you are an artist interested in showing your work at Infini, email [email protected] or stop in the gallery at 214B Cedar St. Sandpoint, ID 83864.