BY MATTIE JOHN BAMMAN | Photo © Bicycle Trio, Michael Brown
THE PROFUSION OF PUBLIC ART in Boise reveals a city that embraces life on all cylinders. It’s home to Freak Alley (covered in the September/October 2016 issue), billed as the largest outdoor mural gallery in the Northwest, and the city’s government-funded public art program has created more than 550 public artworks by local and national artists.
It’s all thanks to a community that loves art, says Karen Bubb, Public Arts Manager for the City of Boise. “The city’s Department of Arts & History has eight full-time employees dedicated to developing local artists, cultural programs, and public artworks,” she says.
So don’t miss it. On your next visit, make sure to see these four standout art experiences.
BOISE’S INTERACTIVE STREET ART.
You won’t find “do not touch” signs near this artwork. On the corner of West Grove and North 14th, “Bicycle Trio” is art you can ride, by Michael Brown and David Cole. Just take a seat on one of the three stationary bikes and play a song by pedaling and rotating the handlebars. Or visit “Homage to the Pedestrian” by Patrick Zentz, centrally located in Grove Plaza. It’s a row of cylinders with instruments inside and motion detectors that pick up nearby movement to play you a song as you walk past.
TRAFFIC BOX ART WRAPS. A traffic box is usually an ugly grey box hidden by some shrubs near a traffic light, but not in Boise. More than 177 artists have turned city traffic boxes into festive artworks. “The artworks feature beadwork, painting, collage, quilting, sculpting—all kinds of different mediums,” says Bubb. They’re impossible to miss and often have fun themes to make you smile.
BOISE ART GLASS. While it isn’t a public artwork per se, Boise Art Glass is a large, warehouse-style studio downtown that keeps regular hours and features hundreds of glass works. Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Filip Vogelpohl owns Boise Art Glass and says 13 artists currently work in the studio. Shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, from vases and ornamental marbles to jewelry and custom glass sculptures. If you’re lucky, you’ll see live glassblowing in action, replete with ferocious flames.
BARBACOA. After a day of soaking up art in Boise, there’s one especially unique place to reflect over dinner and drinks: Barbacoa. This restaurant has a fun bar scene, a stunning patio with views of a lake, and no-holds-barred artworks as creative as the culinary offerings. In fact, this hip restaurant’s collection includes two massive artworks by Boise Art Glass artists.
In the bar, find a white-glass chandelier by Vogelpohl. “It’s made of 3,285 individually blown bone-white glass deer antlers,” says Vogelpohl, and it took six months to make. There’s also a huge two-headed steel and copper medusa by Delia Dante of Fire Fusion Studio (located inside Boise Art Glass). It wraps around the booth seating, where you can cozy up with the surreal drinking companion.
Looking for more? Plan your own art walk using the interactive map on boiseartsandhistory.org, or obtain a public art brochure at City Hall. You can also check out the newly completed Rhodes Skate Park, where the Public Art Program has installed murals by celebrated graffiti artists.
Go to boise.org to find out more about visiting Boise and its vibrant arts scene.