Creators, Makers, and Doers: Byron Folwell

Historic South Boise Streetcar Plaza is an enduring symbol of Boise’s streetcar history. The station was originally located on Broadway Avenue near Richmon Street between 1906 and 1928 as part of the South Boise streetcar line. Twenty-five such structures were built between 1906 and 1925. Ivywild Station is one of the few structures associated with the streetcar still in existence in Boise.

Electric streetcars began operating in 1988. This quick and convenient form of transportation soon caught on, including in Boise. Local business leaders developed a streetcar system—The Boise Rapid Transit Company—in 1891. Two streetcars provided regular service to connect downtown Boise and surrounding neighborhoods. In 1907 an interurban line connected Boise to the west end of the valley by rail.
Streetcar and interurban service provided transportation to thousands of people for more than 40 years. The automobile and better highways, however, doomed the electric railway system. By 1928, operators abandoned the electric rail lines and a new bus system replaced some former streetcar routes. Ivywild Station is one of only a few visible reminders of Boise’s transportation history scattered through Ada and Canyon counties.

The City of Boise moved the old station to a safe location in 2011, renovated it back to its original appearance, and moved it to this park in December 2012. It is now near its original location, where it will remain as a symbol of Boise’s transportation History. Artist and architect Byron Folwell created the site plan, ghost train car, and ghost artifacts such as a milk jug and picnic basket to suggest ways that people used the transportation system—to move goods or go on an outing.

Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.

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Creators, Makers, and Doers: William Lewis


Painting is a serious pursuit for William Lewis and one that he feels is a lifetime commitment. When he is not working at his full-time job teaching high school art, William devotes as much time as he can to his practice. He focuses upon his own personal engagement with the paint and his subject matter. His work can be found at the Boise Art Museum, Ochi Gallery in Ketchum, and in various shows around the Treasure Valley and beyond.

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Creators, Makers, and Doers: Jill AnnieMargaret

IMG_8885Jill AnnieMargaret recently completed a large scale profound project “Hair Story/ Her Story,” that impacted many people from Boise to South America and places in between. Before undertaking her next big artistic project, Jill is taking time to reflect and observe to allow ideas an opportunity to gestate. But she is plenty busy. In addition to working as a professional artist, she also teaches at Boise State and serves as mentor to printmaking students.  Jill doesn’t stop there. She is also planning a solo exhibition in March in Baker City, Oregon, and coordinating the third meeting of the Rocky Mountain Printmaking Alliance. This meeting brings printmakers to Boise from all over the West to share ideas and contemporary practices.


What is your preferred medium?

Working on paper. Printmaking is definitely my medium, but within that there is a lot of variety as far as what it offers. In terms of printmaking in general, I would have to say I favor copper plate etching, but then in terms of just being an artist, there is something so appealing about just drawing with a pen on paper. It’s about the simplicity of it. Those areas are really where I have been putting my focus since I have been practicing as an artist.


What is appealing to you about etching and/ or drawing?

I am working on drawing right now. I am mostly making little daily sketches that are based on observation. The drawings can be so immediate. It’s just pen on paper. You can make something really quickly. With etching, it’s a long process. You have to prepare the plate. Put the ground on the copper plate. The materiality of working on the copper and the metal itself is beautiful.  Although I don’t like to directly transfer images, I really do enjoy the act of drawing on the copper. I think the two are at polar opposites with the immediacy of the drawing on paper and the time lag of the process of copper plate etching. Your drawing changes when the plate goes into the acid bath and again when you finally get to the point of printing the image through the press. The printed line as a result of the etching process has always been appealing to me. There is a lot of time between, when I work, from the point of getting inspired to work on a copper plate to the time of making an actual impression on paper. I think that time can help refine ideas.


Can you talk about your process?

It’s interesting because I have been thinking about what my process is. This summer is the first summer in a while that I don’t have a big trip planned. Last year I went to Argentina for a month and I have been traveling internationally, every summer, for the past four years. I don’t have any big projects on my plate this summer. I have been weeding through my house and taking the time to look at what I am doing and what I have done. I’m collecting my thoughts. I am hoping to fertilize the soil in terms of what comes next. I have just finished this huge project, the Hairstory-Herstory project. I can’t really tell you the process always looks a certain way because I approach each project somewhat differently.

In terms of process, I like not knowing what’s going to happen. I will have a general vision for where a project is going, but hopefully in the end it will be way better than I could have imagined it to be. When I started collecting my hair in 2006, I could not have predicted that it would lead to Shed and then two years later to the Hairstory-Herstory project. If I was making a traditional series of etchings, I may be able to better predict what that process will look like. It will require a sequence of working back and forth on the copper and dipping in the acid to etch. Then working through a series of states. I will finish a plate and it will be ready to proof, print, maybe edition, and then be framed. That process if fairly straight forward, but I tend to think outside the box and I try to expand my work beyond the traditional which opens up a different Pandora’s Box to other problems or other challenges later, like who is interested in showing the work, who might be interested in purchasing the work. Where do you put the work when it is finished if it takes up a lot of space?



What is your relationship to your studio space?

Any space is what you make of it really. I would like to think of myself as being somewhat flexible as to what a day in the studio will look like. If I am traveling, the day in the studio is my note pad and a pen. I could be anywhere in the world or on a train. The idea of the studio is tough. As a traveler, portability is important.  As a printmaker, you generally need heavy equipment, chemicals and ventilation. Sometimes we think we need more than we really need. Some days I need a press that can print an eight-foot woodblock, a tank of acid and an exposure unit. On other days I just need a clear space to put a pen and a piece of paper.



Where do you find your inspiration?

Anytime you have any glimmer of inspiration, you need to hang on to it like you are hanging onto the edge of a cliff because it’s not going to come by every minute. Certain times in my life I have been super inspired. I have been fortunate to have a lot of experience where I feel an intense amount of inspiration that has fueled a lot of years of work for me, but it is also something that can easily be shut off. There is a quote from Joseph Campbell that says, “You need to seek inspiration the way a man with his hair on fire seeks a pond.” You have to go after it.


What are you working on now?

There is nothing new yet. I am working on some little sketches right now. I am not doing much at the moment, but I am gearing up to. The Hairstory-Herstory silk installation and audio recordings will be shown at Idaho State University in February, so I am working on expanding the installation. I also have a show in Baker City in March 2016. It will be all etchings, monotype and collagraph.  Kind of a retrospective of some older etchings, along with new etchings that will include divers and imagery from my dreams and hypnotherapy. I am also working on some banjo stuff. One thing that I realized is that maybe I really am a songwriter. I am planning to record my songs this fall.


What are your opinions of the art community here?

There are a lot of great resources that I have been supported through. In terms of the infrastructure, it’s really good through the city and the ICA and especially for me, through the university. I feel supported in some ways and in other ways there seems to be some lacking. A certain type of work is really appreciated here but work that tackles more difficult issues isn’t well received or understood. It depends which side of the equation you are looking at. There are some really interesting artists in town. I used to have a critique group with some of my colleagues.  Every few months we gathered and talked about each other’s work. That ended a few years ago, but it would be nice to have that again. A lot of people that are in the art community are former students too, so that’s great.


 Can you elaborate on what resources are lacking?

I think the main resource would be a municipal gallery. A really nice city gallery that could possibly be peer reviewed and that would be willing to show some challenging artwork. I think we are really missing good public exhibition space. Maybe it could be city owned. We don’t have anything like that do we? Someplace with rotating exhibits that is a public space and not heavily edited.

As far as support, I think there is tons of support. If there is an artist in town that hasn’t applied for a grant and they are complaining about lack of support, then they just aren’t making the right effort. There really is good support. There are quite a few different avenues.


Do you sell work? Where do you find the avenues to sell the work?

Fortunately, I don’t have to sell my work to make a living. I have a regular paycheck. That’s a relief. I have the privilege of making more challenging work because I do have a regular job. It would be great to have the best of both worlds. Some of my work, I think is really difficult to sell, because it has to live in the right place. It is delicate and exposed. I am not sure how much work or what kind of work sells here and I ask myself, do I even want to make work just to sell it? Will it make me a legitimate part of the community? I am not sure.  I wonder if selling my work gives me more value as an artist? I believe there are intangible benefits of what we do as artists, that my work is not a commodity. I don’t make a product. I like to think I make something that makes the world a better place or gives someone a different perspective or way of looking at something. Hopefully making art inspires other people, but maybe that’s a really romantic and outdated idea on my part. If I assigned my value as an artist to the amount of work that I have sold, it would be laughable. I like to think about all of the support that I have received through grants. That has really added value to my work as opposed to just selling work. The grant support has allowed me to show in Argentina and the UK among other international locations. Of course I would love to do both. Perhaps the work that I show in Baker City next year will sell.



Would you say that you have been able to make a living as an artist?

No, definitely not. I am making a living as an educator. I am making a living as a professional artist who gets paid by the university. My art got the job. If it wasn’t for my education and all of the work I did for that, then I wouldn’t be where I am now. I guess it depends on how you look at it. I got the job I have because of my art and because of my support and willingness to be an advocate for students. I guess the answer is yes then. Yes in a way, but not because I am selling my art, but because I am teaching and working for the university. I am a service in the teaching capacity. That leads to things like helping start the Rocky Mountain Printmaking Alliance. I feel like I am functioning in other ways than just being a studio artist. I am making a living in the classroom and by being a leader in the printmaking field in some ways. It’s tough because its yes and no. Yeah, I am an artist and that’s what got me the job. You can’t be a teaching artist without first being an artist.


Do you have any advice or inspiration for other artists?

I feel like I try to do that with my students, but in terms of other artists, that’s tough.

What do you tell your students?

I really try to encourage a good work ethic. I hope they care about what they are doing, because no one else is going to care about it more than they do. You have to show up and do the work. You need to know what your skills are because when you get out of school, you probably won’t make a living making your art. I hope there are things that I can offer in the classroom like working well with others, working in a community/ communal studio can help you get a good job. You have to show up. But, beyond that, I don’t know. All artists are so different. I think you have to create your own head of steam and really want to do what you do and you have to believe in yourself.  Don’t be lazy.

Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.

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Creators, Makers, and Doers: Dwaine Carver

This artwork commemorates legendary mule packer Jesus Urquides, who was a Boise pioneer and founder of a freighting business located on this site, and the site where he lived on Main Street in Boise. Born January 18, 1833 in Sonora, Mexico, Urquides migrated to the California gold fields in 1850 where he worked as a mule packer supplying the mining communities. After the 1863 discovery of gold in Idaho’s Boise Basin, Urquides opened supply lines to Silver City, Atlanta, Yellow Jacket, and Challis and many other sites throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. During the 1877 Nez Perce and 1878 Bannock Wars, Urquides and company ran supplies for the U.S. Army. His long career spanned gold rushes in four western states over a period of sixty years. Urquides and his fellow packers formed an essential part of the frontier mining economy, using well-honed Mexican techniques to carry provisions to remote mining camps over rugged trails. Spry and athletic, with a distinguished goatee and respectable demeanor, Urquides was highly regarded as an esteemed pioneer figure in Boise long after the era of roads and trucks had remade the mule-packers trade. He died April 26, 1928 at 95 and was buried in Pioneer Cemetery east of this site.

Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.

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Creators, Makers, and Doers: John Collias


At 97 years old, John Collias still has a sharp mind and a determination to continue making art. Since 1962, John has maintained a studio space above Capitol Lumber on State Street, a space that is filled with a variety of his works that have accumulated there over the years. As a self-proclaimed jack of all trades in the art community, John is most widely recognized for the “Distinguished Citizen” portrait series that ran in the Idaho Statesman, but as an artist, he is prolific in his own right. Aside from his work at the Statesman, as it is evident in his well-worn studio, John dedicated himself to the arts. He found work commercially and through commissions to make a living doing what he loved.

It is due to his life’s dedication that John will be receiving the Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.


What did you do for the arts community here in Boise?

I came here as a soldier in 1942. I was out at Gowen Field. They needed somebody to work at the newspaper, the Gowen Field Beacon, making art. They went into town, but didn’t like the work that was being done, so they hired me as a soldier, and my brother, and we drew the soldier of the week. The Idaho Statesman used to print the newspaper, so that’s really how I got started.

After the war, I studied at the American Academy of Art because I wanted to be a story illustrator and a magazine cover artist.

I was very lucky. When I came back to Boise, I was walking down Eighth Street and ran into the publisher for the Idaho Statesman. He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I had moved back to Boise. He told me to come to the Statesman and they would keep me busy. That is when I started doing the “Distinguished Citizen.” I’ve done about 3000 of them. That got me introduced to the folks at Boise State and opened a lot of other opportunities for me. I was called on to do murals and other work for the Morrison Center and the Boise Chamber of commerce and also other freelance work. I have painted the governors and lots of wealthy people. At that time, I think I was the only guy in town doing that kind of stuff.


What is your favorite medium to work in?

I work in everything. I love pastels, I like oils, I like watercolor, I worked in black in white for the newspaper reproductions, pen and ink, black and white crayon on coquille board I used a lot because it had to reproduce for the newspaper in halftones. Now, I am not working as much as I should. I have a lot of ideas that I have to finish up here, at 97, before it is too late.


Did you focus on portraits because that’s what you liked to do?

Because I did portraits all of the time for pay, I liked to paint other things on the side, like landscapes and other things. When I was driving, I would go out into Idaho and find a good place to stop and do a quick painting. I work from photographs and real life. My training was from real life. I painted portraits, whenever I could, from real life, but because people can’t sit that long, you can’t do it that way. I had to adjust depending on the situation.

In Idaho, it’s a conservative state. I was a conservative artist. I didn’t go out of my way to be eccentric and I never insulted the customers.


What kept you in Boise?

My family keeps me here. I do like Boise too. All of the people who I graduated from school with went to New York. Some of them were very successful, but I didn’t care to take my wife and live in the big city. At one point I wanted to go to New York, but I knew what Chicago was like and there are so many artists looking for jobs and how is anyone supposed to get noticed. So I came out here because of previously knowledge and experience, and they gave me a chance.  I lived in Chicago for ten years and then we came here because my father-in-law lost his son during the war and he was in the cattle and sheep business. I was going to convert myself into a cowboy, but I got bucked off so many times that I stopped caring whether I was a cowboy or not. Well I would say that I am fortunate to be in Boise and in Idaho. What can I say, you got to be somewhere. I had three sons here and now have seven grandchildren.

The most important thing to me is my family. If I was a little wilder, I could have shown what art is about, but I was basically a family man. I think I am going to live to be 100. I don’t smoke or drink and I try to lead a good life and I live in the most fantastic place on earth, Boise, Idaho.


What kept you making art?

Well I love drawing and painting. I got involved with it. It is my life. I like to think of it as my life. I couldn’t have done anything else. Whenever I tried to do anything else I knew it would always relate back to art somehow. I was lucky, but you have to stick with it, it doesn’t come easy. It’s not like you are going to get a paycheck every week. When I was working for the Statesman, I did get a paycheck every week for every drawing that I did. You don’t get the money here that you would in a big city, but I just kept on going. I had to do a variety of things. It wasn’t just work at the Statesman. It is a big field and you have to find out how you can succeed and work in it.


Where did you find inspiration for your personal work?

Well I grew up in the Great Depression and I had a cousin that went to Chicago and became a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune. He had his own comic strip. In high school, I was very fortunate to have good art teachers. They let me do drawings. Of course I went out for football and everything, but when it came to knitting, I didn’t like knitting, I thought it was a girls sport. So my art teacher let me do portraits of everyone in the art class. So I have done tons of work, theater posters, advertising booklets and brochures. I had to do a little bit of everything; I had to be a jack of all trades.


What was your work schedule like?

I used to be at the studio every day, when I could. After a while, transportation became difficult. My wife can’t drive me to the bus now. I used to take the bus to the studio. When my wife’s health became bad, I became more concerned with her than my work. We’ve only been married for 68 years.

I still think I can finish all of the work that I need to. The moment will be just right and I will just do it. I always do my own drawing and painting. I don’t trace photographs. I do work from photographs, but I interpret them. When you are working from a photograph, you get to copy the photograph too much and when you work from life you make mistakes that make the work more genuine and it looks better. You have to know when to stop. When you work from a photograph you then make it look like a photograph and then you have defeated yourself.

My hand is still pretty steady. I just have to do it. I became addicted to working.


Do you have any advice for other artists?

It is hard to predict the future for every artist, but as long as they stick with it and be lucky.

When you are young and you have the energy, you have to work at it and not get disgusted with yourself.


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Creators, Makers, and Doers: Errol Jones


Errol Jones gravitated towards history early on and his innate interest developed into a passion and his life’s work.  After narrowly dodging the draft for the Vietnam War, Errol worked many odd jobs before earning his master’s degree. He ended up teaching during tense times in Mexico, when the entire faculty went on strike and was then forced out by the military. After that harrowing experience, Errol returned to the states and earned a doctorate and a fellowship from Tufts University. He next landed in Brazil where he developed a graduate curriculum – and taught in the company of spies working for the then ruling military regime. He ultimately returned home to Utah, founded Utah’s History Day, and then came to Boise where he taught history at Boise State University starting in 1982.

Errol will be receiving the Mayor’s Award for Individual Excellence in the Field of History for his dedication to research and building awareness about the historical and contemporary significance of Mexicans and Latinos in Idaho.

What do you do here in the community?

My name is Errol Jones and I am a professor emeritus of history at Boise State University. My major field of interest has been Latin America. I came here in 1982 and I’ve taught Latin American History ever since. However, in 1998 a young man who was the executive director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs came to me and was concerned about the fact that there was very little history done about Latinos in the State of Idaho. He thought it was really lacking. I surmised that there were certain periods of time that he was interested in having historians cover that he had questions about. One of those was the period of the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Idaho migrant council was formed back in 1971. He wanted to know if I would do that, but at the time I was really focused on Latin America dealing with Latinos before they ever come to the United States.

From that point on, I placed less interest on my Latin American interest and more emphasis on what happens to Latinos when they come to the U.S. and to Idaho. I went on to offer a seminar in that topic and had students write papers about questions regarding the topic. They had to do research which involved going through the newspapers, interviewing people that were involved, find any relating government documents in order to build a complete picture of the folks here in Idaho. We opened up a lot of interesting stuff which led me to join forces with another person in the State Archive, a woman by the name of Kathy Hodges, who was also interested in the topic and who had worked in the very beginning of her residency in Idaho, with the Idaho Migrant Council. She knew some of the people there and was able to talk to them, and together we did a number of things. The first thing that we did was in the seminar, we gathered all of the really good papers and we put them into a small book called, “Hispanics in Idaho.” From there we continued to do other kinds of things. That is how I got into this kind of historical research when I put aside the research I had been doing on Mexico and instead focused more on what happened to Mexicans once they arrived in Idaho.


Why did you choose to go into History?

Well, that happened pretty early. I have wondered if I were to do it all over it again, if I would be a historian or would I have gone into another field. I have become interested in a lot of other things since then and it might very well have, had I been aware, gone into those fields, but you get people that nudge you. I had a high school teacher who taught world history. She had a way of teaching and she also taught Latin. I just kind of got bit by that bug, I just wanted to know more and I wanted to study the past.

I went to the University of Utah and I just gravitated to History. It was easy to me because I loved to read and I got really high marks in my history courses, whereas in my other general education courses, I struggled with some of them. I never failed or got a D in anything, but I felt like my performance was unacceptable in the other areas. So, because of the good grades and the interest I had, I stayed with history. I graduated and then I ran into the quandary, like everyone in the social sciences and humanities, of “What am I supposed to do with my degree?”

 Throughout your career were you more passionate for teaching or for your personal research?

I think research and teaching goes hand in glove in the fact that if you are not doing research then you are not keeping your enthusiasm for your field up. I was always eager to find something different and new that I wanted to explain to the students and try to get them as involved and interested as I was. At a time, I was passionate about teaching. I taught at a lot of universities. When you are teaching you really get to know the students, where they come from, what makes them tick, but all along you are trying to get your point across and trying to get the things that you study and excite you communicated to the students. I guess I am motivated primarily by the research that I have done. That is what I wanted to carry over to my students and have them be interested in as well. I miss that because I don’t do it anymore.

Today, I am still in a situation where I do research and I want other people to benefit from my research. That is one of the things that I found most enriching in my later career is that I became the chair of the History Department and then I became the internship coordinator. As the internship coordinator, that put me in touch with the community. I had to go out and foster relationships with government agencies, with NGO’s, with corporations that could use our students and I realized right away that just like me when I got out of college with a degree in History, I had to figure out where I was going to work. What I was doing as an internship coordinator, was trying to sell to these companies and organizations, a historian, because a historian knows how to research, think analytically, and ask good questions. They can make a good employee. As a result of that, I placed a lot of interns in places that were not traditional. I didn’t stick them in a museum or the historical society because you have to prepare people to get jobs and there were no jobs in those fields here in Idaho.


What do you consider your greatest success in your career?

There is not any one thing that really stands out. In terms of publications, I am not an individual who made a name publishing works. I do think that more than anything is the fact that I taught at several universities and here at BSU for the longest period of time, and I think I reached some people and helped them grow and mature intellectually. I am pretty proud of that. I think that moving in a direction, after 1998, towards teaching and researching about the Mexican people in our population, I was able to open up a window and make considerable progress on the topic. That is the most enduring achievement that I have had and I am still not through with that work. In fact, I am still working on a book on that topic right now.

Can you elaborate more on your research of the Mexicans’ involvement in Idaho?

If you go to the state historical society, the history museum, or the archive you will find that there are not any Mexicans there. It hasn’t been until just recently that they are present because there are a number of people who have badgered the state historical society and the archive to start accepting stuff from the Mexican community and putting the Mexicans’ story together. In order to do that, first you have to find out how many Mexicans were here. I found that out by going back to the first census for Idaho, in 1870. In fact, there were a lot of Mexicans here.

So, Kathy Hodges and I teamed up. She was working in the oral history program at the state historical society. We put together a presentation and took it all over the state to encourage anyone who was of Mexican or Latin American descent to make sure that they got their stuff in the archives. If you go to the archive now, you will find a whole bunch of stuff from old dead white men and women, but very few things from the Mexicans. That is a problem because as long as the researchers are going in there to research things and they are not finding anything on Mexicans, then they will never be able to tell that story. I am just one person and there aren’t very many of us who are doing that, but we have been able to do two things. We got the city to put together a committee that put together a commemoration of Jesus Urquides and Spanish Village. We did that a few years ago and put up a monument so that if anyone ever stops they will see that the area was at one point Spanish Village. Also, the state history museum is doing a renovation right now and they have asked members of the Mexican community to come forth with some oral interviews and to help them design an exhibition of the Mexican culture here. That is now in process and it was never there before.

Carver_Jesus Uriquides

Why is it important to educate others in History?

There is a very trite and off the top of my head response to that. History is the prelude to the future and helps you understand the present. History is useful to understand what is happening in society and think about how that may impact what the future may look like. It may not be entirely accurate, but it gives us some ideas and patterns. I think it is essential.

One of the big problems that I always find is that we elect officials, appoint government folk, and go through our lives without having any understanding of what went before and where we fit in the larger picture. I think that is important. Whether or not you get a job in the field or not, everybody ought to take some history to give them an understanding of how we got to be where we are. If you don’t have those kinds of tools, then I think that half of your live is in the dark. We don’t expect everybody to know everything, but everybody should have the tools to realize that with a little bit of effort they can find out.

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Creators, Makers, and Doers: Marguerite Lawrence

IMG_9463A passion for music led to a 32-year career educating local youth. Marguerite Lawrence dedicated herself to teaching elementary school students about music and the importance of “keeping their ears open.” She credits her success to community support and finding opportunities for her students to sing in unlikely places. Marguerite’s skill at writing children’s songs that integrated curriculum helped create relevant and unique educational opportunities for her students. She will be honored for Excellence in Arts Education at the biennial Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts on September 10.

What is your role in the community?

I was a music teacher in all but two years in my 32-year career in Idaho. For most of it, 26 years, I have been in Boise. I went to the College of Idaho and I went and taught in Canyon School District, the Caldwell School District, Blaine County School District. My entire career has been in elementary schools as a general music teacher or as a general music teacher and orchestra teacher. My last three years was just as a 5th and 6th grade orchestra teacher.

My love of teaching also goes right alongside my love for writing. When I first started teaching, there were no children’s musicals out there that I felt were something that could teach the kids something other than rather inane things. So, I started writing when I was living in Ketchum, which is a real arts community. I started writing children’s musicals and having my students perform them. I really found my niche, my love of being able to create. I was able to create and put it in front of the students and I could tell if they didn’t like it, then I would shelf it or go back to the drawing board. I did that and then realized that I could write and contribute to the curriculum by writing about history, science, ecology, animals. I really focused on that when I was in Boise. I wrote an endangered species musical and that was so much fun because I could look into the curriculums of all of the grades and find what countries they were studying and find an animal that was an endangered animal in that country. It fed into the curriculum where a classroom teacher would never have the time to include the material. So that is what I did for most of my career.

Can you articulate what the importance of music in schools is?

I don’t think it necessarily has to be performance based, but I think that music for all of us is about listening to something, and finding something that you like. I also believe that it is so much part of the world that it is important for children to never close their ears, or at least start young and not close their ears to any of it. I think that if you keep your ears open to music, art and reading, then you keep your ears open to varying opinions and you keep your ears open to the world. I really feel that.


How long did you teach for?

Thirty-two years. I often say that I was blessed. I never thought that I was going to be a music teacher. When I went to college I was a violinist. Even then, I knew I wasn’t going to be good enough to make a living that way. I did think that maybe I would be a conductor.

I went to the College of Idaho and I had the most amazing music faculty there… anybody did who was there between the 1960s through the late 1980s. The faculty was unbelievable; they did not belong in Caldwell, Idaho. How the college got them is a miracle. We had Julliard graduates, Oberlin graduates, my violin teacher, Walter Servainy, was this absolute amazing man. He had to move to the West from the East for his health at a young age. He and his wife were both music faculty at the college and he was the most amazing violin teacher. He would say “Marguerite, you have to sing while you play.”

All of my teachers gave me everything I know about teaching. They were all just fountains of knowledge. So, somehow they tricked me, without me knowing, and they put me into the education track. I never thought that I would be a teacher; I never gave it a thought. I didn’t know I was nurturing and I didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do ever, until I started doing it and I got it. It was great. It was fun. I have to thank my teachers. My parents always encouraged me musically, but never as a teacher. They never thought that would happen for me either. Things happen sometimes.


Even though you are retired, you are still staying busy?

Oh yeah. People say they are so worried of being bored when they retire and I have never had a bored day in my life. I have never been bored. I just can’t imagine how sad that must be. I think that having my days now frees me up to do more creative stuff and have the energy to do it. By the time I chose to retire, it was just time for me. There was a switch that clicked and said move on, and go somewhere else. There are things in education that are very challenging for all of us teachers and administrators. When Common Core came in and I was in the position to retire, I figured I would just leave it to the younger crowd so I could do what I love.


What are you working on right now?

I have kind of changed my road. I am not writing children’s music right now, but I am writing fiction. I have kind of gone into the adult world. I have always loved to write, but I have never had time. It was such a natural fit to write music for children while I was teaching. They were my writing group, my critics. So a few years ago, The Cabin offered a summer adult camp. I decided to see what it was about and I loved it. I had so much fun for that week going in every morning and just getting prompts and writing. Christian Winn who is a local author and professor, an amazing writer, was the boss of me that week. Eventually, that fall, I joined his writing group, it’s called Writers Write, and we meet every Tuesday evening. So, I am writing fiction, short stories. I had my first story published in the Boise Weekly’s 101 Short Story Competition. I am now getting published for the second time by The Cabin, a short story called “Jersey.” That comes out in the anthology in September. It is so exciting. I don’t really care about the publishing, I only published one musical while I wrote, but that end of it doesn’t interest me so much as just knowing that I am getting better at it. There is a definite learning curve when writing fiction. I am getting better. After two years I feel like I can better recognize where I need to improve. The writing group has been really helpful and it is a blast. I love it.

How would you explain to your students, the importance of music?

The importance is that music is everywhere in our lives and the more you open your ears to it the less afraid you are of it and the less turned off you are by it. Keep your ears open.


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Creators, Makers, and Doers: Elizabeth Tullis

The Modern Hotel is easily recognized by its swanky bar, high-end handcrafted cocktails, locally sourced Northwest cuisine, and of course, Modern Art. But behind it all is a rich history based upon owner  Elizabeth Tullis’s admiration for the local community.

Elizabeth Tullis  will accept the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts & History on September 10 in the Business Support of Culture category for the Modern Hotel & Bar. With events ranging from Modern Art to Campfire Stories, the plan for the Modern integrated collaborations with the artistic community from the start by providing an alternate venue to inspire conversations between the community and the artists that live and work here.


Can you speak about the inspiration for the Modern?

My grandparents owned a boarding house called the Modern Hotel in Nampa. My mother and her two sisters grew up there. There are pictures of them in the lobby. The Modern has been in our family for generations, one way or another. When I decided to build the Modern, I had been working at the Redfish Lodge for many years. I was part of the family that owned the Redfish Lodge. When we sold that, I decided I wanted to have a property down here. I started looking around and it took me a long time to find one. I found this mid-century modern place and called it the Modern Hotel after my grandparent’s boarding house. That was the inspiration.

Can you elaborate on the boarding house?

It was the first iteration of the Modern. My grandparents both came over from the Basque country in Spain and they ran sheep for many years before they bought the boarding house in Nampa. The sheep herders would come and stay for the winter and then go out and run the sheep all summer long. There were people back and forth all of the time. My grandmother did all of the cooking and my mother and her sisters did all of the cleaning. They grew up there and then went to Nampa High School. That is where my dad met my mother, at Nampa High. They got married and had seven children. Everyone has different occupations, but there are two of us that own the Modern, with the grandchildren, my brother and I. It is kind of a family run business.


What do you see as the Modern’s role in the arts community here?

We really wanted to build a place where artists had a different venue. There are a lot of really good artists and a lot of diverse artists working in different areas from painting to acting to filmmaking all over Boise. I have known a lot of them for years and years and we just thought it would be fun to create a different kind of place where they could show their art, no matter what it was, from performance art to film or painting, or music. I think the Modern is a good structure to do that. That is why we started Modern Art. People could take a hotel room and make it into anything that they wanted and open it up to the public so the public can experience their work. That collaboration between the public and the artists really works well, as you know if you have been to Modern Art. It is very crowded and people love to do it. It is a wonderful way to open up the hotel to give the artists a new venue to show their work, but also for the community. The community has a different way to engage with the artists and their work. The artists have always—no matter who they are—have always supported the Modern. They are here constantly. They bring their people here. It has just been a wonderful partnership ever since the beginning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow did Modern Art get started?

The first year it was very organic. Of course, we didn’t have very high vacancy rates, so we had a lot of rooms that no one was in. One of the great ways to get the community in to see that we were open and what we had to offer was to put the artists in the rooms and have an art crawl. We started with word of mouth to artists that we knew and gauged interest in the project. The first year there was just a small handful of artists, maybe one wing of the hotel, who came in and did the first Modern Art. That first one was packed. So we then decided that the next year we definitely needed better planning and crowd control. We were very surprised by the turnout. We just did our eighth Modern Art. For years, many of the artists came back. It is certainly a lot of work for the artists because they come at three, they have to be set up and open by five, and then they have to be out the following day by noon because the rooms are rented the next day. It is a very tight turnaround and a lot of work for the artists. I am very grateful that the artists have put in the time and energy to do it every year with us. It has been a wonderful thing.


Also, things like Modern Art have spurred other projects here like 39 Rooms, an in room film festival. We take short films from all over the world, jury them, and then put them on channel thirty nine on a loop and switch them out every year. We are in the process of switching them out now to put in Basque films for Jaialdi. They will all be done by Basque filmmakers. 39 Rooms is really a great thing. Our guests love it. When they check in we tell them about it and they can actually vote on which one they like best. We then give that information back to the filmmakers. It gives the filmmakers a really different venue to show their work in. Showing short films is really very difficult. There are not that many venues to do that, except for some short film festivals or as part of a larger film festival. I realized that we have so many television screens with nothing good on them, so we decided to do something else with them, use them in different way. We are always trying to figure out what we can do differently with the resources we have. How can we use the rooms differently? How can we make a broader experience for both our guests and for the arts community?


Can you elaborate on your thoughts of how the Modern has impacted the community?

I think it has opened up a larger conversation between the community and the artists within the community. I think it gave them a place to meet and gather and have that conversation. Before, it was either at a gallery or different places, but this is kind of a broader place, and more public place where people can come together and discuss those things and see those things, and view them differently. So I think that we have given that to the community as well as the artists, and the community has certainly given back saying “thank you.” They support it, they show up. It is our way of giving back to the community that has given so much to us. The artists are right in the middle of it, they are the ones that made it happen. They are the link.


What are your opinions of the art community in general?

Well I think Boise has a wonderful art community and always has. I was raised here so I have a lot of friends that are artists that do a lot of really great and diverse things. I hope that things like Modern Art and Treefort and big events like that can evolve and keep evolving here becoming bigger and bigger and more sustainable and keep bringing more people in to create a larger conversation and provide a way for everyone to be involved. I think Boise is on the brink of doing that, but I think it has to be organically done to work.

Big performances are good to have and bring in, but they are really only accessible to certain people. We need things that are organic and on the street and in the public that are open to everyone and every age. That is what we need, that participation across all generations. Regardless of what it is that brings people together, it is important for any community.

Any new things planned for the future?

I would like to do another project here, but it is just finding the different space for it. We love the Modern, but we have kind of grown out of it a little. We only have thirty nine rooms. I would like to do something through art and keep art incorporated with whatever we do.

I would really like to do some projects with theater. Boise Contemporary Theater did a wonderful project S5 this spring and they just used the neighborhood and different places to create the performance. They went out and in a very artful way they used the community and the neighborhood. I would like to things like that with theater, if I can. Like, maybe some dinner theater at some point. I would love to do that.


Do you have any advice for other people who want to do what you do?

Here is a story as an example. I remember when Lori Shandro came and told me her idea about having a music festival right after SXSW all over town in different venues and hundreds of bands, similar to SXSW and have it in March. She asked if I would support something like that and I told her that I would absolutely support in whatever way I can, but I think you are crazy to do it. I wasn’t telling her not to do it, but it is a huge project and I will do whatever I can because I think it is great. But, just to do Modern Art alone takes a staff of fifty and months to do and you want to do a five day music festival? I was very impressed and of course she did it. Each year it has grown little by little, but how she did it was to go out into the community and ask for help. She went out and talked to everyone about it. She asked about ideas and participation and sponsorship. She went out and asked the right questions from the right people and she got the support of the artists, the business owners, and she was able to do it. That is the way that you do it. You have to go out into your community and talk to people about your idea. Find out what is right or wrong and find sponsors and grow from there. You have to slowly build a team of like-minded people on a project that is your dream, but you have to make it everyone’s. You have to make it a community effort and this community will do it. It’s like the old adage, “If you build it they will come.” They will help you build it too. It is a great community to start anything like that in. You just have to do it bird by bird, but they will do it and we are lucky that way.

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Creators, Makers & Doers: Driek & Michael Zirinsky


Driek and Michael Zirinsky’s tireless support and advocacy for the arts and humanities in Boise reflects their lifelong work and passions. Their vast collection of art speaks to their collective and individual interests and professions. Driek and Michael both taught as professors at Boise State University, Driek in English Education and Michael in the history of Islam and the Middle East, with a focus on Iran.

In the community, their presence is no less notable. Driek founded the Whittenberger Writing Project, helped create the Idaho Theater for Youth, and served as the president of BAM’s Board of Trustees. Michael generously lent his knowledge to communities all across Idaho through discussions related to his topics of interest in history. Together the Zirinskys support a network of local and regional artists through building relationships with them and collecting their works.

It is at this point in their lives as collectors that they are starting to find new homes for their renowned collection. The works of local and regional artists are being donated and will now be housed and displayed in some of the most premier galleries in the country.

For these reasons, they will be recognized at the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & History for Support of the Arts.


What role have the two of you played in the community here?

Driek: I have collected a lot of art, over a thousand works, many of them from Idaho and Boise artists, but also beyond Idaho in the Northwest and across the US and in Europe. I know a lot of the artists because I go to their studios and I go to their openings. I try to buy work from them. I have made it a practice to buy something out of each of the Idaho Triennials, the faculty art show at BSU, occasionally from students at BSU. It is wonderful now to be in the stage of giving away because I am able to place artists from Boise in international collections. Those works are shown side by side with artists that are internationally famous. I love doing that. For a lot of the art institutions that are more New York centric, it is a revelation to see the work because curators come here and are blown away by these artists that they have never heard of. They are very thrilled to have the work in their collections. That is my current mission. Find good homes for everything.


How did you get started collecting?

Driek: People ask me that a lot and I think it is a combination of things. Both of my grandfathers were collectors. My father was a collector of everything but art. He collected stamps and license plates and match book covers, menus, and ash trays from famous hotels and on and on. When we cleaned out his study, I inventoried the collections I found and there were like nineteen or twenty different collections. My father was paid in Dutch currency at the end of World War II, which was pretty worthless anywhere-, you couldn’t convert it to another currency. The rest of his family was living in the U.S. at that point, so he spent the Dutch currency by buying a portfolio of watercolor paintings by a Dutch artist and a few other things. I had one of those watercolors in my bedroom when I was growing up. When I went to college, I took it off the wall and took it down to where my father was loading the car and he looked at me and asked if I was taking the piece. He shrugged and said I guess it is yours now. It is interesting to me looking back on it, now that I know a lot more about eighteen-year-olds, I think that is an unusual thing for an eighteen year old to do. To take something hanging on the wall and being so attached to it that you want to take it to college with you.

When we were graduate students we were living in Paris and Michael had a research grant and I bought an etching that cost a whole month’s rent. It cost one hundred dollars. I guess collecting has always been of interest to me. The first time I made a little extra money here in Boise I went and bought a painting.

The first spring that I worked for the Idaho Department of Education, I had a little side consulting job and that is when I bought my first Idaho painting here in Boise. The collecting was always going on while everything else was happening.

At a certain point when we were starting to accumulate quite a bit of artwork, I thought well what am I doing? What is this about? At that point, I decided this is what I wanted to do and just threw myself into it. Then I started being more focused and deliberate about it and I started following the artists that I was interested in and started going regularly to Portland and Seattle to see new shows. I was going over in the morning and coming back at night, just for the day to see work. With the artists that I was really interested in, I would visit them when they were installing the shows, so I could have the first pick. A lot of the works I have were bought that way.


What do you look for in artwork that you want to collect?

Driek: The selection of a work is a heart-first, head-second process for me. When I do see a work, I know almost immediately that I want to collect it. I might go through some other considerations, but it is often very immediate. A lot of other collectors are much more deliberate about things, but I am not. I am an impulsive person. I know right away. When I am looking at a work and thinking about acquiring it, one of the things I think about is how it will relate to things that are already in the collection. It is kind of a curatorial process, when I am buying new work. I am pretty open to things that I have never seen before. In fact, I think that is what draws me to things. Things that are exceptional because it is a young artist doing something that I have not seen before that is fresh and innovative. I think a lot of the things that I have collected are extremely well made. That is a characteristic that I look for in whatever medium or material and something that is extremely well done. I like things that have a strong narrative in them. I also believe that collecting is autobiographical. The works feed off things that I am interested in and things that Michael is interested in.

Michael: I think there is something about the work speaking to your heart. I don’t know how you quantify that or put it into words, but the work has a life of its own, not everything that is created by an artist does, and that life talks.


Can you elaborate upon what you think about the arts community now?

Driek: I think I am amazed at what kind of art community has evolved here. Boise seems to not be a town that will support commercial galleries very well, but artists are taking things into their own hands and finding ways to show work and to have studio space and collaborate. I feel a real vibrancy in the arts community here in Boise. Not just in the visual arts, but in all of the arts. It is a wonderful thing to see. I think Boise could be a place where artists could come to live and work because the cost of living here is reasonable. Maybe Boise will become one of those places where artists gravitate to as a place to work.

Michael: I think there has been a big change in the art department at the university too. It has always been a large department because there was a great interest in doing art among potential students. I think the quality of faculty as art makers has changed for the better by many times in the past forty years. I compare the work that is being done by the current faculty with the past work and it is like night and day.

Driek: The art department is a really big department. The department really is as big as most of the other colleges at the university. There are lots and lots of students and now they have an MFA program. Maybe a lot of the energy that is coming out in this community comes because of the big program and there are so many students studying. That may be the case.

Michael: I think it is a synergy. The demand was always there. When we came it was a large department with lots of interested students.

Driek: When I look at things that have evolved like dance, all of the different dance companies that are here, the theatres, the opera and the Philharmonic. Those two were here when we came.  All of these things have really just flourished. I think there is really great community support for the performing arts.

Michael: I think it reflects the increased population size and what has cause the population to grow has been the university, but also organizations like HP and Micron who are bringing people in from all over the world and who have experiences and interests that weren’t present in the early seventies.

Driek: I think this is a vibrant artistic community.


Are there any resources that are lacking here to support what you do and for artists?

Driek:From a practical standpoint, it is very hard to be a collector here at our scale because it is hard to find people who can install work in your home or build crates for shipping or pack things properly. All of the support that collectors need is severely lacking here. There was not an art appraiser available. Jane Brumfield took the course in Chicago to become a certified appraiser for the IRS. The rules about tax deductions from artwork are very strict and demanding, so she took the course so she could do some appraisals for tax purposes. Now she is taking a job in Oregon. She is keeping one foot here in Boise, but I will be her only client. That is something that is really missing. All of the things that support collectors. When our exhibit was up at Boise State we met with a number of classes there and one of the students asked me how to have a career in art and also stay in Boise. There are so many opportunities here and you may have to volunteer for a while but you just have to get your foot in the door. There are so many things going on in Boise where you can get a job in an arts related field, but there is also an entrepreneurial opportunity to open a business that does crating, framing, and other services for collectors would really be a valuable addition to the scene here. That is the practical side.

I think also, for artists, that Boise lacks a vibrant contemporary art exhibition space. Someplace where big installation can be shown, or where artists can come in and create big works. I would love to see a contemporary art space get developed here. That is definitely lacking. I have collected a good bit of video, but I have collected it elsewhere, because it is very rare to see video work around here. I would like to see an emphasis on new media. It would be a fantastic addition to Boise, whether that is a university program or some kind of collaboration with an existing program for learning about it. It could also be an exhibition space that provides the opportunity to show that kind of work.


Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in collecting?

Driek:First of all, for collectors, I don’t know why people are so reluctant to buy an artwork. It is the craziest thing to me. You can buy a gorgeous original work of art done by an artist who lives here, for less than you might spend for a new pair of shoes or dress. It is such a pleasure to live with an artwork where you can look at it every day and appreciate it every day. You can know the artist and follow their career. It is such a boost for artists if someone just buys their work. It is so affirming.


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Creators, Makers & Doers: Carl Rowe


Although you may know Carl Rowe for his vibrantly colored and sensuous scenes of the foothills, his interests and career span multiple disciplines. At a young age he was deeply involved in music, but his first watershed creative calling happened at age 27 when he “stumbled ” into dancing. He ended up on stage while at the first dance performance he ever attended. The experience ignited a passion that led to 39 years of professional dancing, directing, and choreographing throughout the West.

It was here in the West, inspired by the vast landscapes, where Carl felt compelled to capture the beauty and theater of Idaho’s environment. What started as a novice fascination, evolved into a professional painting practice that celebrates our relationship with our surroundings.

It is no surprise that Carl will be honored for Individual Excellence in Arts at this year’s Mayor’s Awards; he served as artistic director for two dance companies, choreographed over 100 dances, and is now represented by fine art galleries in Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming.


Are you a full time artist?

Yeah, I guess I would say that. For the last year I’ve just been painting. I left the dance company I was with for twenty-five years, last spring. For most of the time, I was full time, but I do each career by sort of juggling them. I wasn’t a full-time painter or a full-time choreographer. I was the executive director and the artistic director of the dance company so that took an almost full-time commitment, but the art part is only a part of that, unfortunately, which is one of the reasons I had to leave.


How much time on average do you spend in your studio?

Well there’s no average really. I’m lucky; I don’t have to be in here all the time. I don’t like to paint under pressure, that’s why I don’t go out and try to get ten galleries like some people do. I couldn’t supply them. I like to reduce stress. I’ve had a lot of stress and I just want things to be manageable.

I also can’t spend all my time in here because it’s very solitary and I enjoy that up to a point and then I need people. So, there was a nice balance with dance, but I couldn’t have just painting. Now even without dance I just can’t do it all the time. I’m not that solitary so I need breaks from it. I just try to find the right balance for myself of being in here and sometimes I get into a groove and I’m off and excited and doing stuff and I lose track of time. That’s the way I like to paint, I don’t want to feel like I’ve got to get ten paintings out here.


Can you talk about your painting process?

There are basically two things that interest me in painting. One is shapes and volumes. Shapes are a big part of most of these paintings and it’s why the foothills are an endless source of subject because they’re just an enormous conglomeration of shapes. I love shapes, I love volume, and I like mass and the human body. I’ve been involved with the human body for over forty years in dance. It’s also an endless source of something to work with, not so much statically, for me, it’s in motion, and it’s moving, bodies in motion. My suspicion is that so many of us relate to our surroundings and these hills in particular, more so than peaky mountains, they remind us of us. Now these paintings could be muscle, sinew, bones I mean maybe it’s anthropocentric but I think that’s how we relate to anything. I’m speaking for myself but I think there are other people that feel the same way and it’s why we respond so much to it because we’re very self-centered.

The second is light and this comes from theater, from being in dance. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a dance concert, we use really strong lights. There are always colored lights, so you’re never looking at white light. You’re always looking at colored light. It comes from the sides so it’s very sculptural, it shows off the contours of the body, so as you watch those bodies in motion, set against a really high contrast background, those figures just pop out. We make you stare at that body as intently as you can stare at something. It’s the whole way it’s setup, we basically hypnotize you. I’d like my paintings to hypnotize people. I’m going after the same sort of feeling. Once in a while I get into a sort of landscape focus thing and I never feel quite as satisfied about it. Depending on how much you pull in or pull out from the shapes, everything changes. They become more abstract when you pull in and they become more landscape when you pull out, but they’re still the same subject matter.

To me I want something that’s got some emotion to it, some drama, and some sense of theater.


Do you only paint landscapes?

Oh, I paint other things it’s just that people only buy landscapes. It’s what I’m known for around here. Landscape is what made me start painting in the first place. I love mountains, good peaky mountains, but it’s the foothills that are so sensuous and so beautiful and so evocative to me that I just wanted to interact with them. I was very lucky in the sense that I picked the right subject matter at the right time because nobody was painting the foothills—nobody. I found out that there are other people who love the foothills as much as I do and they responded. It’s the back drop of the city and is the thing that distinguishes Boise from Topeka or anywhere else in the country.

One of the factors of being a professional artist is that you have to have a reputation for something. It’s why most artists don’t make a professional career because they want to be free to do anything. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a hard way to have a career. People tell me all the time, they drive up in the foothills and say, “There’s a Carl Rowe painting.” I think it’s great, it’s the best marketing I could have.


Do you have any tips or inspiring words for artists?

I used to talk to high school students about being a professional artist and this is what I would tell them. Enjoy painting or whatever you’re doing, drawing is fine, but don’t be a professional artist, it’s a terrible life. You’re not going to make any money and you’re going to be constantly waiting tables. If you really want to make a living in art then open a gallery or be an art critic or write about art, do anything about art except make it. You’ll do much better if you don’t do it. Also, if you want to be an artist, in order to be a good artist you have to be an interesting person. So you need to spend half of your time trying to learn how to be an interesting person because you’re not very interesting right now. You’ve got to get interested in a lot of other things besides art because just being interested in art is not going to make you very interesting and your art will show it. I went on and on like this and they were getting a little depressed and one kid said “You know you’re not really selling this very well.” I said, “Of course not because if you’re going to be an artist, nothing I say will prevent you from being one. You’re the only kind of person then that will have a chance because your parents or anyone with any good advice would say don’t do it. It’s not the field to go into in this culture but people who are going to do it will do it regardless of what anybody says. I’m doing you a favor. If I can talk you out of it in thirty minutes here then I’ve done you a huge favor.”


Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.

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