Chris Trout came to Idyllwild in 1998 to open a fine craft gallery. She was motivated by the presence of Idyllwild Arts Academy and had been visiting since 1980. Upon arrival she found that there were only four galleries, no art events or art walks and no formal group to support the arts. With Grace Songolo, an artist and gallery owner, Chris set out to make Idyllwild known as an art town, and a destination for cultural tourists. By the time she received the Essence of Idyllwild award, there were eighteen galleries, eight art events and Idyllwild had been included as one of the 100 Best Art Towns in America in John Villani's publication.
The Idyllwild Gallery of Fine Art also continued to grow and be recognized as one of America's leading Fine Craft galleries. First, it was named one of the top 100 and then one of the top 25 in the nation. A national award as the Best Merchandised followed. Now retired, Chris continues to be an avid proponent of the arts, the Art Alliance and Idyllwild. She is actively involved in the Associates of Idyllwild Arts Foundation, Jazz in the Pines, the Idyllwild Community Fund and serves on the Leadership Team of the Idyllwild Community Center.
*From the book by the same name by John Villani, published by the Countryman Press, April 2005