20 Years of Public Art

Grove Street Illuminated & Boise Canal (2003) by Amy Westover located at Grove & 9th Street in downtown Boise is the first work commissioned through the City of Boise's Percent for Public Art Ordinance.

20 Years of Public Art: Celebrating Boise's Percent for Art (2001-2021)

Boise is home to a remarkable and diverse collection of public art ranging from paintings, sculptures, and murals to installations, mosaics, and traffic boxes, among others. Over 50 site-based installations, as well as numerous other artist-designed traffic boxes and works represented in the Boise Visual Chronicle and Portable Works collections have been commissioned through the City of Boise’s “Percent for Public Art” Ordinance, adopted 20 years ago this year. Join us in celebrating this landmark year!

Quick Links

A Brief History of Boise's Percent for Art Ordinance
Public Art Walking Tours
Outdoor Exhibit
2021 Mayor's Appreciation Day for Arts, History, & Culture
A is for Art: Boise's Public Art Alphabet Book
Public Art Installations & Dedications
Get Involved
FAQ

A Brief History of Boise's Percent for Art Ordinance

On March 6, 2001, in a 5-1 vote, Boise City Council adopted Ordinance No. 6042, which became known as the “Percent for Public Art” ordinance. This ordinance marked a major milestone for the support of public art in Boise. It established a policy where the municipality would allocate one percent of capital expenditures to acquire public art and up to an additional .4 percent of capital improvement expenditures to fund the conservation and maintenance of the integrated art, staff resources, and public education about the art. Capital expenditures included upgrades to city-owned facilities and infrastructure, such as the Boise Airport, Boise WaterShed, Foothills Learning Center, Boise Public Library and branch libraries, fire stations, and throughout the city’s parks, as well as integration of art into the streetscapes throughout all areas of the City.  

The ordinance followed a nationwide trend to create site-specific art through public funding. The first percent for public art policy was enacted in the City of Philadelphia in 1959. Boise’s ordinance was the second passed in Idaho—the city of Coeur d’Alene established the first program in the state. In Boise, percent for art projects have made significant geographic impacts, integrating art into neighborhoods across the city that did not have art prior to 2001.  

Percent for art funds have been used to create landmark artworks that contribute to the identity of their locations. The first work commissioned after the passage of the ordinance is one such example. Grove Street Illuminated & Boise Canal, by local artist Amy Westover, is located on the corner of 9th and Grove streets.  

The largest concentrations of public art are located at the Boise WaterShed and at the Boise Airport. 

Public Art Walking Tours

Walking Boise's streets is probably one of the best ways to learn about the city's public art. But you can also explore Boise's public art collection online. Find your favorites!

Guided Tours

Join our Public Art Program Team every third Saturday during the months of April through October for a two-hour walking tour to explore the public art collection located in downtown Boise. The tour will begin and end on the Capitol Blvd. plaza at City Hall (150 N. Capitol Blvd.). Tour starts at 10 a.m. and ends at noon (12 p.m.). Free and open to the public. No registration required. However, space is limited to 25 participants welcomed on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more.

Self-Guided Tours

You may also enjoy a self-guided tour of Boise's public art collection using our interactive map or by requesting a public art brochure at artsandhistory@cityofboise.org

Online Collections

Partnerships with talented artists, historians and hundreds of passionate citizens help build the remarkable Collections under the curation and care of the City of Boise. It’s never been so easy to browse and search the City’s growing collection of public art. Browse the Collections online!

Outdoor Exhibit

Outdoor streetlamp banner installationEnjoy a free, self-paced and self-guided outdoor streetlamp banner exhibit showcasing the breadth and depth of the artworks commissioned through the Percent for Public Art Ordinance. Look up to find 20 installations on Idaho and Main streets adjacent to Boise City Hall, as well as in BoDo along 8th and Broad streets.

2021 Mayor's Appreciation Day for Arts, History, & Culture

As part of the first ever Mayor’s Appreciation Day for Arts, History, & Culture planned for September 9, 2021, which will include performances on City Hall Plaza, public art and history walking tours, and City Hall open hours, the public will be invited to participate in a panel discussion featuring local and national percent for art artists and arts administrators examining the role and future of public art in Boise, as well critical issues of contemporary public art. We will release more details about this planned event as they become available. Stay tuned!

A is for Art: Boise's Public Art Alphabet Book

Boise-based writer Malia Collins, together with local artist and graphic designer Stephanie Inman, have been commissioned to collaborate on the creation and publication of A is for Art: Boise’s Public Art Alphabet Book, a book for children using the alphabet to explore the City of Boise’s Public Art collection, slated for the end of the year.

Public Art Installations & Dedications

Throughout the year, the community is also invited to watch for the installation and public dedication of new public art, including:

Learn more about the City of Boise's Public Art Program.

Get Involved

Open Calls & Opportunities

The Public Art program hosts a variety of types and levels of projects with offerings that cater to both emerging level artists and well-established artists working in the public realm. We invite you to pursue open calls and opportunities.

Inquire

Staff of the Public Art Program will always make time to discuss questions, concerns and comments regarding projects, process and ideas. Please contact Catina Crum.

Commission Artists

Private developers are encouraged to commission and fund artists to create and install public art within new construction projects or on privately owned property. Collectors, philanthropists, and developers seeking to connect with Boise artists, please contact Karl LeClair for consultation or direction.

Report Vandalism

Notice a sticker or tag on a public artwork? Please notify the Cultural Asset Program Manager Josh Olson or Annie Thiffault, Cultural Asset Program Assistant, so we may quickly remedy the damage.

FAQ​

 Forthcoming.