River Street Digital History Project

River Street Digital History Project
By Amy Fackler, Cultural Programs Manager

Boise’s River Street Neighborhood is a rich microcosm of social history and critical for learning about Boise’s history, its evolution, and the present day.  The neighborhood is roughly bordered by Myrtle and River Streets (north to south), and 9th and Americana Streets (east to west).  It emerged in the 1890s when real estate speculators eyed the area for warehouses and rental properties in anticipation of the Oregon Short Line railroad’s arrival in Boise.

Between the 1890s and 1960s, the predominantly white neighborhood became home to most of Boise’s relatively small African American population.  Basque, Japanese, Eastern European immigrants and descendants, and others in the working class work force also lived in the area and built businesses. The concentration and isolation of the racially and ethnically diverse population living in the River Street Neighborhood offers a chance to explore past residents’ experiences and the role the neighborhood played in the formation of the larger Boise community.  William White—an archaeologist, archival researcher, author, and doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona—applied for and received a grant in 2014 for just this purpose.

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Public Artwork at BOI

Public Artwork at BOI
by Karen Bubb

Thanksgiving kicked off the heavy holiday travel season at Boise Airport. If you’re one of those traveling through BOI this month, take time to look at the art throughout the building. The work commissioned for this municipal airport relates to our local environment and the travel experience. In the past year, the Department of Arts & History installed two new artworks you can view before heading through security.

Along Rivers Edge, by Anne Klahr

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The Bling Isn’t Real: How Bogus Basin got Its Name

Photo courtesy of  Eve Chandler

Photo courtesy of Eve Chandler

The Bling Isn’t Real: How Bogus Basin got Its Name
By Brandi Burns, History Programs Manager

Last month I wrote about the history of the Vista Neighborhood, the place I call home. After looking at my current neighborhood, I started to wonder about other places I’ve called home. I grew up in the dredge piles of Idaho City and Centerville, but curiously, I never felt a passion for the history of Idaho gold mining. Although now that I think about it, I may have developed a mild case of Gold Fever. I was pretty eager to find a big chunk of gold all my own. When my dad took me to old mining shafts, I would peer into the darkness thinking, “If only I could go in there…I know I would find some gold.” But dad would always say no, and that would be that.

Despite this immersion in a place so heavily affected by the Gold Rush and a yearning for my own “Eureka!” moment, I missed some pretty obvious history. For example, I never stopped to wonder about the endless hills of bare rock piled on top of each other. Here a hill, there a hill, hills of stone everywhere. When I went away to college and came back though, with my newly minted bachelor’s degree in history, the plethora of rock hills hit me like a slap in the face. This is what a landscape looks like when you dredge for gold. The endless hours I spent “picking rock” washed over me—all of those rocks transforming the terrain, and for what? Every last bit of gold the miners could find.

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What is culture?

4What is culture?
 By Karen Bubb, Public Art Manager

What is culture? Where do you find culture in Boise? What Boise-based cultural experiences work? What Boise-based cultural experiences are not working? What cultural experiences would you like to see? These five questions have helped drive the conversation around Boise’s cultural planning process. So far, nearly two-hundred people have responded.

Where do you find culture in Boise?
“The Flying M. Fort Boise Community Center classes. On the street.” –response submitted through website

We have found thus far that Boiseans find culture in traditional venues such as art and history museums, theaters like the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Boise Contemporary Theater, and Botanical Gardens. They also find it in more open-ended sites like a farmer’s market, downtown alleys, neighborhoods, coffee shops, and the outdoors (Greenbelt, Foothills, and parks). Others touted  BSU, societies and clubs, festivals, and music venues as frequent locations for cultural experiences.

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INTERSECTION: Archives as Artistic Inspiration

Photo from Project Cityscope, by Melissa Long

Watcher Files Project Photo from Project Cityscope, by Melissa Long

INTERSECTION: Archives as Artistic Inspiration
By Amy Fackler, Cultural Programs Manager

Every now and again, you chance upon something that connects the dots and solidifies a nebulous vision that has remained murky or difficult to articulate. Such a thing happened to me at the Pacific Northwest Archivists Conference in Spokane, Washington in May 2014.

It was here I attended a presentation about an innovative artists-in-residence program created by the City of Portland Archives  and the Regional Arts & Culture Council  (RACC) to introduce archival resources to new audiences. The first artists selected for the program, Kaia Sand and Garrick Imatani, began their project The Watcher Files, in March 2013, a mere two months prior to the conference.

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Where do you find “culture” in Boise?

BCT Performance, Shipwrecked

BCT Performance, Shipwrecked

Where do you find “culture” in Boise?
By Karen Bubb, Public Art Manager

BOISE 150, the City’s year-long sesquicentennial celebration, helped us discover what people love about Boise and reflect upon our communal values and the themes that express them. BOISE 150 provided an opportunity to examine many facets of our culture— such as Boise’s music scene past and present, , lost and saved architecture, and the role  visual arts and poetry have played in shaping our City. The City of Boise wants to continue this dialogue and better understand what citizens want the next 150 years to look like.

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EaglesonParkLotsForSale_IDS_11June1931_CROPLiving in Boise’s Vista Neighborhood
By Brandi Burns, History Programs Manager

History is all around. It’s in that funny-shaped house you pass by on your way to work, that multi-hued brick on the building downtown or the width of that street you drive down. And each time you notice something new around you, it’s an opportunity to ask, “Why is it like that?” Well, right now I’m asking that question about the very place I live: the Bench. For those new to town, the Bench refers to the neighborhood south of downtown that sits on a geologic formation commonly called as the “Bench.” My earlier post on tiny houses hinted at my interest in the area, but there is so much more to explore! For now, I’ll focus in on my little area—the Whitney Township.

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An International “Little Free Public Library”

Veiko LFL

An InternationalLittle Free Public Library”
by Karen Bubb, Public Art Manager

Boise City Department of Arts & History (A&H) sponsors an eight- week “Public Art Academy” each year to train local artists how to compete better in the public art market. Last year’s participants created proposals for a public art opportunity to make a “Little Free Library” in a Boise location of their choosing with a $3000 commission. The first of three selected projects was recently installed at the Boise International Market, a new space at Franklin and Curtis that features vendors with crafts and food from all over the world. This is Veiko Valencia’s first public art sculpture. He collaborated with metal artist Ken McCall to create the final design and fabricate the work.

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Funding Cultural Initiatives Since 1997

MakingaStoryQuilt_1

Funding Cultural Initiatives Since 1997
By Amy Fackler, Cultural Programs Manager

The Boise City Department of Arts & History (Arts & History) operates a grant program with annual disbursements to local individuals and organizations. Although the fund amount and specific mechanisms to evaluate grants have evolved since the program began in 1997, the fundamental purpose has endured: to support quality local cultural initiatives that help make Boise a more interesting, inclusive, and livable city.

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Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council

Nashville Print Shop Tour

PAN Meeting at Isle of Printing in Nashville, 2014

Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council
by Karen Bubb, Public Art Manager

The Public Art Network (PAN) is the only national professional network dedicated to advancing public art. As part of the Americans for the Arts, headquartered in Washington, D.C., PAN develops professional services for individuals and organizations engaged in the diverse field of public art. It also provides advocacy, best practices, and educational opportunities—such as conferences and webinars—for artists and arts administrators.

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