Dana Oland: Two new public art pieces will go up at the Boise Airport

doland@idahostatesman.comAugust 2, 2013 

Public art carries with it a sense of permanence and stability. Think monolithic sculpture or glass walls and water features cut into facades — and you certainly will find those throughout the Boise Airport.

However, there are a few that are engineered to be less lasting. Next month, the Boise Department of Arts and History will swap out one of its most popular airport pieces — Boise painter Geoffrey Krueger’s giant landscape in the main ticketing area, “River’s Edge” — with a new painting by another Boise painter, Anne Peterson Klahr.

It’s part of the flexibility offered by an innovative technology in public art. Call it the vinyl revolution, the ability to scan a work of art in almost any media, blow it up and transfer it onto a sheet of vinyl that can then be hung on a wall, wrapped around traffic boxes or even around a city bus.

As a vinyl wall piece, Krueger’s painting was never intended to be permanent, says Boise City public art manager Karen Bubb.

The technology was new 10 years ago when Krueger’s piece was installed. No one knew how long it would last.

“We figured it would be up for two to three years, but it’s been 10 years and it’s still in great shape,” Bubb says. “But we wanted to have some art at the airport that changed. It stayed up so long because it’s been beloved.”

Klahr’s painting of another river’s edge — gone vinyl — will be installed in September.

If you loved Krueger’s Hudson River School-inspired painting of the wild brambling Barber Park, no worries. The original oil will be hung in the walkway along Concourse B, so you can see it on your way to your gate. You also can own a piece of it, literally.

The vinyl now hanging at the airport will be made into shopping bags with handles made from recycled tires. (The bags will be available at the City’s Sesqui-Shop, 1008 W. Main St., around Thanksgiving, Bubb says. The price is not yet set.)

Klahr’s painting “Along the River’s Edge” shares a similar title with Krueger’s but is very different. Still, both paintings reflect Boise’s connection to the river that runs through it.

Klahr’s acrylic painting is fluid and abstracted, suggesting morning light filtering through trees. That’s something Klahr grew up with as the daughter of an avid fly fisherman.

“I really reflected on how the river is, what I think of as, the soul of the city,” Klahr says. “I wanted to capture that peaceful feeling of riding through town and crossing across the river on the Greenbelt. It’s a calming part of life here.”

Klahr’s painting was selected as part of a Boise 150 grant to commemorate the city’s sesquicentennial. In her artist’s statement, she reflected on how the river attracted the first settlers to Boise’s banks 150 years ago.

As Klahr’s piece gets ready to go big, she reflects that nothing is permanent. Someday the vinyl will come down and be made into shopping bags, she says laughing. “It’s an interesting process,” she says.

The four finalists for this project received more public comment than any other Boise public art project to date, Bubb says.

Because of the feedback, the city also decided to commission another of the finalists, Belinda Isley, for her 3D collage “Are We There Yet?” It will be hung in the airport’s business center.

Isley’s piece was well-liked by the community and the selection panel, but because of its level of detail, the panel felt it wouldn’t work as a large image.

“They felt it’s something you need to see up close to really appreciate,” Bubb says.

Krueger’s painting came out of the original call to artists when the airport was expanded in the early 2000s as part of the city’s “Percent for Art” initiative. That call brought a mix of local, regional and national artists to install work at Idaho’s travel hub.

“Percent for Art” puts aside 1.4 percent of civic capital project budgets for site-specific public art. That’s 1 percent for the art; four-tenths of a percent goes to maintenance and educational programs.

Though it was controversial when it was first proposed, the initiative has been a boon to the city. Since its inception, 52 works of art have been created as part of new city construction — from Irene Deely’s whimsical water-faucet sculpture at the Boise WaterShed to Liz Wolf’s Idaho terrazzo floor map that greets visitors as they descend the escalators at the airport.

The airport’s new garage expansion project also will bring new art to the site. Minneapolis artist Seth Palmiter of MotivatedMetal was chosen from a national call to artists.

His design uses a mix of metal, light, colored plexiglass and etched glass. An LED-lit mobile will run down the center of the walkway and be reflected in an etched glass mural that will offer travelers a view of the Idaho sky. It will live along the pedestrian bridge from the new garage to the main terminal and will be installed in the spring and summer of 2014.

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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