Making a Scene 

B.O.S.C.O.'s second annual open studios event

Let's start by recognizing an important reality about the art scene in Boise, Idaho. We can do this by comparing the relative absurdity or veracity of two opposing statements. The first statement being: "There is no art scene in Boise, Idaho." And the second statement: "I'm going to move to Boise to become a famous and successful artist." If you're like me, you will find the first statement not completely but nearly true, and the second statement, patently absurd.

If you try real hard you can kind of find an art scene here, but you have to try real hard. In its second year, the Boise Open Studios Collective Organization, or B.O.S.C.O. could very well be the beginnings of a recognizable and viable art scene. At the very least it should be a good annual fine arts event.

Visiting their Web site I found this in the way of a mission statement: B.O.S.C.O is a new organization committed to expanding opportunities and exploring new contexts for Boise's professional, working fine art community. Once a year, B.O.S.C.O. members invite the public into their studios to engage in the process and importance of creating art.

The organization includes 50 members representing visual work in painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, metal smithing, fiber arts, photography and drawing.

The event, sponsored by Boise Weekly and Boise Art Museum (BAM), spans a weekend. It includes an opening reception held at BAM on Thursday, June 3 from 5-9 p.m. The public is invited to this free event. Live music and refreshments are provided. Attendees will be able to preview work, purchase a map of studios and plan their tours. As of Friday evening, various artist studios will be open--in different groups each day--through Sunday.

In all honesty, I was asked by the boss to take a hard look at B.O.S.C.O., but I'm not inclined to be very critical when it's the only event of its kind happening here. Naturally, there are some differences of opinion when it comes to questions of direction, scale and focus for an organization as new as it is, but there's also a built-in rebuttal--at least it's something.

That said, B.O.S.C.O. has ruffled some feathers. There are those within the group, as well as former members like local artist Grant Olson, who are worried about the loss of B.O.S.C.O.'s grassroots ethic. In the first year the group came together loosely in the absence of anything like a cohesive art scene, wanting simply to create an environment where a cohesive art scene might begin to take shape. The goals were to build relationships between the community and the artists and between the artists themselves, while keeping everything open and organic in terms of organization, the execution of events and direction. In its second year the group has taken advantage of a relationship with Boise Art Museum, added a juried submission process for new artists, and taken on some sponsorships. While these new elements give the project some legitimacy and may potentially attract a more official patronage (as in people who actually collect and pay for art), some feel the results will be insular if the organization and its events become too official.

Talking with Lorin Humphreys, one of the organization's co-founders, it's clear that above all else he sees the organization as a work in progress. The partnership with the museum should be good for both parties and is in no way carved in stone. How B.O.S.C.O. retains its grassroots ethic is still an open question.

The question remains: Is there a reason to believe a project like this can't potentially attract both folks with an art background and/or a budget for collecting as well as a wider public? Nobody is going to be tricked into appreciating fine art--either you're interested or you're not, and if you are interested, it shouldn't matter if the event is at the art museum or a public park. In any profession there is a necessary insularity. An art scene needs the resources and attention of its most devoted patrons and practitioners. But shouldn't there be a way to make a fine arts affair as accessible as the Weiser Fiddle Festival? Humphreys' hope is that if the discussion continues and the organization continues to explore its options, a sense of shared concern will create an art scene here with the kind of viability and energy it takes to sustain and inspire itself.

An art scene that sustains itself? Hey, it's worth a shot.

B.O.S.C.O. opening reception, June 3, 5-9 p.m., FREE, Boise Art Museum, 670 Julia Davis Drive. Open studios, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. $10 ticket/map at reception, Record Exchange, BAM, Flying M, Boise Weekly, Boise Co-op, Boise Blue Art Supply or Ashton's Framing.

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