Hands-On Art 

BAM's art demo series could tickle your muse

Sometimes great artistic passions are ignited by seemingly innocent circumstances--coincidental encounters, a glimpse of beauty, an exquisite bit of timing. Melanie Fales, curator of education and acting interim executive director for Boise Art Museum (BAM), hopes to optimize the spontaneous nature of inspiration by bringing "hands-on" experiences to BAM visitors through free monthly art demonstrations to deepen appreciation of the museum's current exhibitions.

click to enlarge Cheri Lindley at a BAM art demo. - DENISE "JAKE" FREEMAN
  • Denise "Jake" Freeman
  • Cheri Lindley at a BAM art demo.

For eight years, Fales has coordinated these regular demonstrations by community artisans on the last Sunday of the month. Her vision is to provide educational opportunities that could turn into life-altering events for attendees of all ages and interests. In past art demonstrations, BAM has scheduled sculptors, painters in oil, watercolor and acrylic, stained-glass artists, glass-lamp artists and architects to come in and demonstrate their expertise for the museum-going public.

At the August 27 art demonstration, Cheri and Doug Lindley of Lindley Glass showed visitors the ins and outs of stained glass and architectural drawing--complementing BAM's current Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit--minus computer-aided means. Theirs is truly a hands-on venture.

Cheri Lindley tells BW that her passion for stained-glass design began almost accidentally and blossomed into what her daughter refers to as "a hobby gone haywire." Thirty-five years ago, during a demolition phase in downtown Boise, an old church that the Lindleys attended was slated for destruction. Before the wrecking ball could deal a mighty blow to the windows of the church, the windows "mysteriously" disappeared--then reappeared years later. Rescued by a concerned church member, the windows received far greater appreciation when they resurfaced than they enjoyed at the time of their scheduled demise.

Before the windows were rediscovered, Cheri was convinced that scrap glass from those windows could have been used as keepsakes if only someone knew how to do it. Apparently, her often-stated convictions impressed her husband and children sufficiently, because the next Mother's Day, they presented her with the gift of a box of scrap glass and a few tools--an invitation to "put up or shut up," Lindley laughs. Years later, glass still takes her wherever it wants her to go.

Her husband Doug is a retired architect who now works with his wife in their glass studio. He claims that he has never worked so hard nor had as much fun as he has had for the last 10 years as one half of Lindley Glass. At BAM's August art demonstration, he sat at a table next to hers and used basic architectural design tools that would be similar to those used by architects in the early part of the 20th century. His feeling about computer-aided design is that it lacks the heart and creative flexibility of hand-drawn work. "Sterile" is a word both he and Cheri use to describe their take on computer-generated drawing.

Cheri's discovery of her passion was all-consuming. Her tools were limited and scarce and much of her design and fabrication area was improvised. Her work table was once a panel stretched between the washer and the sink in the laundry room of her basement; works-in-progress had to be cleared out periodically to accommodate the family's need for clean clothing. Doug created tools for her to use and others were fashioned from odds and ends of implements meant for other endeavors. There were no "kits" when Lindley sparked her creative fervor for stained glass--drive and persistence provided the impetus she needed to become an accomplished artist.

The piece Cheri worked on in the BAM foyer is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright windows, several of which are showcased in the exhibit. She shows how the meticulously cut glass shapes are arranged and how the channels are cut and pressed into the design. Asked how much time her panel would take to complete without interruptions, she replies with a smile, "There are always interruptions! All my work has been done with interruptions."

These art demonstration afternoons are just one part of BAM's educational goals. There is also an excellent children's discovery section called the ARTexperience Gallery, an interactive space outfitted with colorful and imaginative devices geared to inspire young minds. (A display of toys given to Frank Lloyd Wright by his mother illustrates her ambitious plans for his future.) Fales hopes that by offering hands-on opportunities like these, BAM might guide children and adults toward finding a passion for art. The museum offers numerous educational programs for budding enthusiasts of all backgrounds and interests, including studio classes, talks and lectures, videos and demonstrations--all providing multiple entry points to learn more about the museum's exhibits.

BAM's next art demonstration is scheduled for Sept. 24. Milan Kovach, an architectural historian with Preservation Idaho, will give a demonstration using masonry blocks from 1-3 p.m. Visitors can observe and ask questions. BAM is located at 670 Julia Davis Dr. and more information is available at www.boiseartmuseum.org.

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