Treefort Art Gallery: Small Exhibit, Big Purpose 

Boise-based artist Tony Caprai has worked with Treefort Music Fest since its first year, but despite his contributions, which have included painting in the Payette Brewing tent and creating murals for live audiences, he felt the potential of TFM to enhance the local arts scene was still untapped. So in 2017, Caprai created the Treefort Art Gallery to fill the visual arts void. Although the exhibit will be small this year, with only 13-15 pieces on display, that hasn’t stifled his hopes for its future.

“I wanted to do something for Boise,” said Caprai, the Treefort Gallery Lead. “The gallery scene here is pretty much lacking—there are a few cool spots to show, but I remember Modern Art [an event at the Modern Hotel and Bar], which was the big thing that happened annually in the old days … that was a great era for Boise for art shows, and it kind of died out, so I thought it might be nice to help create something to get a little more momentum going as the city grows. ”

The Treefort Gallery 2018 will be located at The Owyhee and is tailored to fit the space. Of the six artists with work in the exhibit, three are from outside of Idaho, and three were chosen from a pool of local submissions.

Collage artist Colleen Condon and mixed media painters Catina Crum and Ashley Carlson made the local cut, while sculptor/installation artist Melanie Billark, multimedia experimenter Eli Craven and audio-visual specialist Garek Jon Druss accepted invitations to travel to the Gem State. The gallery is open to the public, admission is free and the exhibit will be on display Tuesday, March 20-Sunday, March 25.

“This is my first international show,” said Billark, a Toronto native whose 6-foot-tall, environmental installation piece “Greenwashing,” made from AstroTurf and a 1920s-era clothes washer, is one of the exhibit anchors. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to be a part of a larger arts community.” Her piece, she said, focuses on “rewilding and adding green space to urban city centers.”

Carlson’s artwork is also a response to the environment. In oil and graphite, she marries surreal Idaho landscapes with blank-faced figures, and said the works confront “ideas of rural isolation, anonymity and time past” particularly in a digital age.

Apart from showing their art, some of the artists whose work will be on display in the Treefort Art Gallery will give talks and participate in other Treefort events. Billark, for example, is partnering with Kidfort to teach a class on natural weaving.

That’s just the first step for the gallery when it comes to branching out.

“What we’re working on for the future of the gallery and for development is more collaboration with Boise City Arts and History,” said Caprai, citing the organization for its help with a call to artists this year. “And there’s light talk of an artist in residence, or an installation grant … [It’s] really exciting.”

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