A first for San Juan County; Martindale picked for state arts commission

Diane Martindale - Contributed photo
Diane Martindale
— image credit: Contributed photo

To find a large stack of mail to sift through after returning from a long-overdue vacation was to be expected.

But within that stack was one letter that caught Diane Martindale almost completely by surprise.

“I had resigned myself to ‘well that didn’t happen’,” Martindale said of an appointment to the Washington State Arts Commission. “I thought the time period of when the appointments would be made and announced had already passed. And I hadn’t heard anything.”

Instead, the governor’s office just hadn’t gotten around to considering applications or new appointments to various state boards because of unfinished state budgetary business that prompted a special six-week session of the state legislature and interrupted a timely appointment process. Martindale opened the envelope to discover that, by appointment of Gov. Jay Inslee, she is now San Juan County’s first-ever representative on the state Arts Commission.

“I’ll say that I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least,” she said. “I take it an indication about how much art goes on here and the level of talent, and how much the arts contribute to the islands economically.”

Created in 1961, the Washington State Arts Commission reviews applications and approved grants to organizations and communities large and small in the visual and performing arts, and in writing. Its mission is to speak to the value of public art, build leadership from and for the arts, strengthen art education in the schools, document the economic impact of the arts, and acquire and care for artwork in the official state art collection, much of which is on display at the state’s K-12 public schools, colleges, universities and state agencies.

Although skilled in the craft of quilt making, Martindale, owner of Acquisitions, an art consulting business, downplays her artistic talents. But as an advocate and ambassador of the arts, Martindale believes that her enthusiasm and energy would rival just about anyone’s.

A former marketing consultant specializing in the medical equipment industry, Martindale is chairwoman of the library’s art committee, a member of the Island Arts League board of directors and the San Juan County Arts Council, an advisor to the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (she authored and landed grants to fund IMA’s public schools art education project and Family Arts Days), and a supporter of the 100 Friends of Old Island Barns.

She also volunteers with the Community Arts Theatre Society, is a member of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts and was a board member of the Houston Ebony Opera Guild before relocating to San Juan Island.

“In my cover letter with my application I said that there are probably plenty of people more qualified than me for the position,” Martindale recalls. “But I also said that my dedication and enthusiasm for the arts would rival just about anyone’s.”

The state arts commission consists of 19 appointees who serve three-year terms. Martindale, one of four new commission appointees, expects to begin her tenure at the panel’s first meeting in November. She anticipates being inundated with homework, numerous grant applications will need to be reviewed, to get up to speed and to be prepared for that meeting.

And that’s precisely where she had hoped to be.

“The arts are always changing,” she said. “You just never get bored.”

— For more information the Washington State Arts Commission, visit


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