Exhibit shows off artistic talents of Columbia Police Department employees

Chief Holbrook (far back) with participating artists in exhibit. Karamie Sullivan photos.

Most people may not think law enforcement officers would spend their down time creating art. However, members of the Columbia Police Department have proven otherwise.

The “Life Behind the Badge” art exhibit premiered Thursday night at the City Hall Art Gallery on Main Street. The exhibit was part of “First Thursday on Main,” a monthly event that displays local artists’ work in multiple buildings on Main Street.

The description of the exhibit explained that many people see police officers as “only a badge and a gun.” The department’s collection of artwork allowed observers to see that officers and employees have hobbies they enjoy in their off-duty hours. According to the explanation, the exhibit showed “the artistic side of Columbia Police Department officers, employees, retirees, and their families.” There were 15 participating artists, many of whom were at the show Thursday night.

Columbia Police Inspector Catherine Benson said she asked other officers if they would be interested in displaying their art in a show, and found that many were excited to do it. She asked Chief Skip Holbrook and said he told her “absolutely.” Benson added some of her woodwork pieces into the exhibit.

“This is our stress relief,” she said. “We go home and we can focus on the painting, or carving, or whatever it is, and take our mind off of everything at work.” Benson’s wife, Angela, also contributed multiple watercolor pieces that were on display.

Captain Jimmy Auld was another contributing artist, and attended the show while in uniform. Auld creates wooden plaques he carves and paints. His work ranges from police and fire departments’ plaques, to the state flag logo, and pieces he’s made by request. Auld said he’s been creating his art for the past 10 years, although he’s worked for the department for 27. “I discovered it by accident,” Auld said. “I kinda stumbled across doing something like this and I enjoyed it.” He said he gives many of his pieces away to friends. Auld was proud to mention that his daughter also had a painting in the exhibit.

The CPD art show will be on display through September 26 at 1737 Main Street. The gallery is open to the public during regular City Hall hours: Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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