KALICO Art Center to Host Free Street Art Workshop

Organizers hope to recruit volunteers for tunnel art on the Great Northern Historical Trail; workshop on Jan. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.

By Maggie Dresser
People walk through the pedestrian tunnel beneath U.S. Highway 93 near the Four Mile Drive intersection in Kalispell on Jan. 20, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In collaboration with Rails-to-Trails of Northwest Montana, KALICO Art Center is hosting a free street art workshop on Jan. 27 to educate community members about public art and to recruit volunteers for the Tunnel Vision 2021 project.

“We’re offering the public a workshop to go over a bigger project and that is to (paint) murals on the Rails-to-Trails tunnels,” local art teacher Adam Shilling said. “It’s kind of an open conversation and dialogue with the people here in Kalispell.”

Shilling says street art is sometimes portrayed as a negative concept, and is often confused with “tags” or graffiti. The workshop will educate the public about the history of street art, the difference between illegal crude street art and legal street art and murals. Shilling also will explain how artists can work with cities and property owners to create public art.

Following the workshop at KALICO, Shilling will offer workshops at later dates at Flathead High School, Glacier High School, Linderman Education Center and Flathead Valley Community College.

When Shilling was a teacher at Summit Prep School, before it closed down, he taught the concept of street art to high school students, and the school had a 20-foot-long wall that was used for art. He will show some of his former students’ work in the class, and he hopes to inspire new artists.

“A lot of my work was with kids from the inner city that got in trouble doing street art illegally,” he said. “I did a lot of lessons on street art … and I’ve had quite a few students get engaged with public art in the cities they’re from.”

Shilling hopes to get as many volunteers involved as possible to help the professional artists, who are chosen by a selection committee to put together each mural.

“The volunteers are there to help the artist execute it,” Shilling said. “Some folks will be point people, so the artist isn’t responsible for all of the volunteers and the artist can really focus on the art. Managing 10 people can be challenging.”

Starting in February, there will be a call for art proposals from Flathead County residents followed by the selection at the end of March. The Kalispell City Council will review the project in April, winners will be announced in May and the mural work will begin this spring.

KALICO and Rails-to-Trails of Northwest Montana began working together after Shilling and his wife, Alisha, helped facilitate a mural outside of Bias Brewing featuring an Indigenous woman representing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement.

“That was something that we spearheaded initially,” Shilling said. “I love putting up art in the community, but whatever the work is about, I want to get the people here involved … I want the people to be a part of it and I want it to tell a story.”

By the end of the project, the Great Northern Historical Trail will have murals at the tunnel entrances of Kidsports/Flathead Valley Community College, Glacier High School and the Kalispell Bypass.

The nonprofits have raised more than 60% of the $17,500 fundraising goal.

KALICO will host Street Art Workshop: From the Streets to the Gallery on Jan. 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visit to register.

For more information about Tunnel Vision 2021, visit Contact Kip Smith at (406) 871-6139 or to become a sponsor.

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