PROJECT COMPLETED — The new photo collage sound board at the Pondera Center is up and looks beautiful. Many people were involved with this project. In front from the left are: Cynthia Johnson, Chary Majerus and Tresha Holden. In back are: Dan Majerus, Joe Christiaens, Barb Stratman, Robert Newkirk and Gary Olson. Not pictured are: Sheron Curry, Kathy Dean, Mark DeBoo, Andrea Dyrdahl and Pondera Arts Council. I-O Photo by Pat Lee
By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
In 2012, 48 acoustic panels were installed on the walls of the Pondera Center.These Audi-Mute Soundproofing panels were used in order to improve the acoustics in the new center due to the echo created by the high ceilings.County funds paid for the project.
Although the sound issue was solved due to the panels another issue soon arose.The panels were plain and did not allow for any decoration to take place.Hanging pictures and so forth would have been counter-productive.
Rita Christiaens, wife of County Commissioner Joe Christiaens, and former County Commissioner Cynthia Johnson came up with the idea to create a photo collage printed directly onto a larger 6’ by 6’ panel.
In November of 2011, county commissioners sent a mass e-mail to a number of Pondera County residents, requesting donations of digitally transferable pictures for use on the proposed photo-collage.
They requested the photos be donated by May 1, 2012, but by July only three pictures had been donated.
With the project at a standstill due to a lack of photos, Chary Majerus, of Framing Etc., was contacted and asked to contribute photos she had on file, take more needed pictures and help complete the project.
Majerus had over 300 pictures, but many were yet to be taken.
At that point the Pondera Arts Council (PAC) became involved.Majerus requested the help of the PAC in writing a grant to cover the cost of the project.Majerus wrote the grant as a PAC sponsored initiative.
The Montana Arts Council, an Agency of the State Government, and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the organization $824 in grant money to help with possible incurred expenses.The $1,256 cost of the photo panel itself was generously donated by anonymous donors.
With the financial part of project finally covered, the project could begin.
It was decided that the pictures taken in Pondera County should reflect “A Snapshot in Time”, the project was intended to depict the lifestyles and activities of Pondera County residents as they appear in 2012, when the project was being put together.
R. Christiaens commented on the project, “We need a bit of history to go with this new building.We need to document the here and now.”
The next step was taking and finding the appropriate pictures for this project.
Majerus and other photographers including, Dan Majerus, Sheron Curry, Kathy Dean, Mark DeBoo, Tresha Holden, Robert Newkirk, Gary Olson, Cynthia Johnson, Andrea Dyrdahl and Barb Stratman took the pictures that were needed for the project.
All worked within their specific areas to obtain the pictures needed to truly describe the lives of Pondera County residents.
Every town in Pondera County was highlighted.The types of pictures included photos of churches, public places, special events, such as Valier Homesteader Days, Whoop-Up Trail Days, Dupuyer Grizzly Days and Heart Butte Society Celebration.
Other photos included shots of farming and ranching, wildlife in the area, city signs and miscellaneous photos.
By the time the photography was complete the project was flush with 436 digital images.
After the photos were in place, R. Chritiaens and Johnson chose 200 photos for the panel and both gave the okay on the layout.The layout was completed by Barb Stratman at the Independent-Observer.
After the pictures and layout were finalized, Audi-Mute Soundproofing began work putting the collage directly on a 6’ by 6’ panel.
Audi-Mute was so impressed with the project that they wanted to use it as a case study and put the collage on their website.
The collage panel was finally put into place at the Pondera Center on July 2.
To go along with the collage there was also a 15” digital photo frame that includes all 436 photos taken for the project.The digital photo frame runs on a loop every day between the hours of 11 a.m.-2 p.m.The slide show takes approximately 45 minutes to view.
A special plaque was also introduced with the names of all the contributors to the project, these include, Joe and Rita Christiaens, Cynthia Johnson, Chary Majerus, the Independent-Observer and the Pondera Arts Council.
A project like this just goes to show how individuals, businesses, government and non-profit organizations can come together to create something that will benefit not only themselves but every person in Pondera County.