Public Art and Pasta 

Fettucine Forum and the value of public art

In a recent discussion, a friend declared that art in Boise has the ability to stand apart from outside influences such as Seattle, Hollywood, Portland or San Fransisco, because Boise is landlocked. I laughed at first, but gave her a chance.

"Everything created is wholesome and pure," she declared. Her idea is that the lack of big cities near Boise leaves local artists open to interpret art how they want. With no outside definitions or trends to bow to, Boise can lead and doesn't have to follow. She went on about how liberating this all is. I must admit, it's an interesting theory and one that can't be completely ignored when looking at the public art found all over the Treasure Valley.

It's true. Artists who have chosen to live and work in Boise have made great strides over the last few years to define themselves, as well develop a strong art community here in the Treasure Valley. Not a light undertaking, as Boise isn't really considered to be a big hub where artists gather and live. Still, art thrives here. Because many artists have chosen to make this city their home, Boise has become a place full of creativity and vitality.

This First Thursday, Karen Bubb, the interim executive director of the Boise City Arts Commission, presents a Fettuccini Forum discussion on one aspect of Boise's thriving art scene: "Boise Urban Artscape." Bubb will give a brief history of public art and Boise's public and private investment in art, displaying a few current works of public art as well as some proposed works.

Joining Bubb are three artists from the Boise art community who make a living applying their professional skills to commercial and public art projects. Kerry Moosman is a celebrated ceramist and public artist who designed Alley History on 9th Street and Spirit of the Healing Waters on the alley side of the Idanha Building. In 2006, Moosman received the Governor's Award in the Arts for excellence. Ward Hooper will also be joining the discussion. Hooper is a painter, graphic designer and public artist who was integral to the Basque Block design and pioneered Art in Transit posters and bus wraps celebrating Boise neighborhood assets. Hooper has mentored young artists in the creation of multiple highly visible murals and was a recipient of the Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2005. Also on hand will be Elizabeth Wolf, a children's book illustrator, muralist and public artist who designed Terra Firma, the 40-foot terrazzo floor medallion at the Boise airport, painted a mural in Borah Park and created a tile mosaic for The Cabin. Wolf also redesigned the silver award medallion for Idaho Commission on the Arts in 2004, which is presented to recipients of the Governor's Award in the Arts in various categories.

The Fettuccine Forum is a free educational lecture series that coincides with downtown Boise's First Thursday activities during the school year. The series covers history and culture of the Boise area. The Forum was founded in 1989 and was originally hosted by Noodles Restaurant, hence the fettuccine part of the forum (fettuccine is still available for a small price at each forum). In 2004, after an eight-year hiatus, the Forum was revived by Boise State University's Center for Idaho History and Politics. The purpose? To give the public an opportunity to interact with politicians, artists, historians, advocates and professionals in lively and informal discussions on topics of local interest, all in the name of treasuring life in our valley and striving to make it a better, more beautiful place to live.

In connection with the April forum, Bubb teaches a companion workshop titled "Public Art and Civic Dialogue." Boise State students may receive credit by registering for the workshop online at http://broncoweb.boisestate.edu.

May 3 will be the final Fettucine Forum of the season. "The Trial of Big Bill Haywood in Boise, 1907: The Trial of the Century" coincides with the 100-year anniversary of one of the most infamous trials in American history. Former Supreme Court Justice Byron Johnson will discuss how the trial shaped the future of American law, and former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Wayne Kidwell will present a companion workshop titled, "Personal Rights and the U.S. Constitution."

--Nicole Sharp

Thursday, April 5, the Fettuccine Forum is in the Rose Room, 718 W. Idaho St. in the Union Block Building on Idaho between Capitol Boulevard and 8th Street. Doors open at 5 p.m., presentation begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Free appetizers will be served, and beverages will be available for purchase. Fettuccine is available for $5.

For more information on the workshops, contact Todd Shallat, Center for Idaho History and Politics, 208-426-3701, tshalla@boisestate.edu, or Karen Bubb, Boise City Arts Commission, 208-433-5670, kbubbL@cityofboise.org, www.cityofboise.org/arts_commission.

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