Sculpting a Plan for a Summer of Arts Immersion
Story and Photography by Pete Grady
Over the last twenty years the valley has seen a steady expansion west from Boise. Back then Eagle was barely a stop sign along Hwy 44’s two lanes (there was no bypass, then), and if you wanted some “culture” you’d plan a trip into “town” to go to the art museum, see a play at the Boise Little Theater or music and dance at the then newly-minted Morrison Center. A lot has changed in the number and quality of arts experiences of all stripes in the Treasure Valley since then, and while Boise still commands the bulk of the attention of creativity seekers, much has blossomed in cities from Eagle to Meridian and on to Nampa/Caldwell. In Eagle there were plans aplenty by several entities both private and local government when the Great Recession hit in 2007 and it has been tough yachting to fill those sails since then. But, the winds are stirring again and thanks to a few energetic individuals and a handful a organizations we have good things to look forward to in Eagle, starting this summer.
At the intersection of most arts avenues sits the Eagle Arts Commission or EAC. Headed by Meg Glasgow, a designer and the owner of Finer Frames on Main St., the commission oversees several programs including the galleries at St. Luke’s and City Hall, public art installations and the First Friday Eagle art, shopping and dining strolls. During the summer months, EAC organizes the weekly Eagle Saturday Market which features music, art activities for the kids, vendors displaying their art and craft items and of course local produce and food products.
Once funded by the city, EAC now relies on grants, private donations and fundraising events to support its mission. So, while the city no longer has a year-to-year budget allocated to EAC, they do come through when ideas are presented that the city council and mayor feel will provide value to the community and benefit Eagle. Most recently the city approved funds in support of the inaugural Eagle Sculpture Invitational. “ This will be a one-of-a-kind show in Idaho.” claims Meg, “We’ve reached out to dozens of artists, mostly in the north-west and gotten a great response. I’m excited for the city and I think the community will be impressed with the exceptional quality and diversity of the work.” In fact, there will be eight sculptures by nationally recognized artists installed throughout the Eagle downtown core in June and will remain there through September.
Not only will this be exciting for folks living in and visiting Eagle, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the artists as well. With the work being displayed on pathways, parks and public spaces, it will provide for intimate interaction between the art and its audience. In fact, the exhibit has the potential to become a destination for Treasure Valley locals as well as tourists visiting Idaho and looking for something beyond the usual attractions. “The folks that live here really identify with being Eagle residents in a way that most of the rest of the valley don’t”, states Owen. “They’re passionate about living here and are supportive of making this the best community it can be. There’s a lot of potential for making Eagle the arts capitol of southwest if not all of Idaho.” Meg goes on to say that she’s promoting this and other arts events to major regional and national publications.
Each of the sculptors will receive a stipend to offset costs and compensate them for their efforts in helping install the works. The community will be asked to vote on the art and the most popular piece will be purchased by the city for permanent installation. An important additional benefit of the exhibit will be the chance for EAC and the city to see the work of these artists first hand, giving them a leg up as future candidates for public art projects and programs.
Cutting Edge Visual Arts
The Eagle Performing Arts Center dance performances will be quiet this summer, the focus shifting to summer dance camps and their ongoing ballet classes for youths. Within the center however is a gallery called The Art Space that presents exhibits curated by Amy O’Brien. The gallery is unique is several ways, not the least of which are its clear walls that allow visitors to EPAC to see in without actually entering the space. They provide the additional benefit of creating a different kind of exhibition venue that provokes artists invited to show there to create something different than what they might usually be asked to do.
Indeed, artists have accepted that challenge in past shows with a variety of installation art, sound art and the kind of presentations you would find usually in larger, arts-oriented metro areas. This summer the space will feature two fine artists this summer starting in June with ceramist Chris Kranz. Chris’s work is inspired by organic forms and brings a rustic look and feel to his elegantly utilitarian pieces. He will be showing a number of recently-made tea sets. Following Chris will be the photography-based installation artist Alexandra Ungern Sternberg Prufer, from Brazil. Her work relies on the patterns and textures of nature to bring revised form to basic geometric volumes and pushes the boundaries of sculpture. Her show starts in August and runs through October. Watch for the announcements of their opening receptions.
The Art Space is located inside the Eagle Performing Arts Center at 1125 East State Street, Eagle and is open Mon-Fri 12:00PM to 7:00PM and Saturdays from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.
Musical Classics Find a New Home
The Boise Philharmonics Picnic at the Pops is returning to Eagle this summer for the third consecutive year. Having outgrown the former Woodriver Cellars concert venue, the focus now is on Eagle Island State Park. The concerts are scheduled for Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 and Friday, August 29th, 2014 with tickets going on sale June 1.
Where Do We Go From Here?
There is an urban legend that says that Winston Churchill, when asked if he would consider cutting funding for the arts and divert the money to the war effort, replied “If we do that, what are we fighting for?” Whether Churchill really said this or not is an open question. Nonetheless, the quote has struck a cord with many Americans. The quality of our communities is an expression of the people who live there. Schools, roads, landscaping, building and signage codes and the businesses and institutions that support our everyday needs create the fabric of our public lives.
So, too, do the arts. As we retreat into our homes, smartphones and the cyber world, home theaters and outdoor kitchens, it’s important to remember that there is nothing so fundamental to being human than to share an authentic experience with friends and family. The arts thrive and continue to be offered so long as there is demand, and Eagle is a community primed for their support. An educated, affluent and engaged audience is at hand and ready to be cultivated by the talented and energetic arts administrators willing to take on the task of finding and presenting high-quality music, dance, theater and the visual arts. Of course they need support and there are many ways to help…buy a ticket to a concert, vote for your favorite sculpture, stop by and take a look at the art, or write a check to an organization that is doing work that you think reflects well on the community. With all that is being offered, make this summer the start of an arts journey for you and your family.