Every three years, the Boise Art Museum takes a statewide look at contemporary art. The Idaho Triennial opens Saturday with 65 works done in traditional and new media by 40 artists from across the Treasure Valley and the state.
The show offers a snapshot of contemporary art in Idaho as chosen by this year's juror, Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art at Oregon's Portland Art Museum.
The artists are, as always, an interesting mix of those who are well-established in the community - Chris Binion, Amy Westover, Lisa Pisano, Bill Lewis and Kirsten Furlong - and those who are emerging on the scene and are experiencing their first Triennial.
Here are a few:
RIKKI HARVEY, BOISE
Rikki Harvey, 28, the daughter of Artsmith's Jewelers owner Rick Harvey, began her art training without even knowing it, hanging out with her dad and doing calligraphy and watercolor. It wasn't until she was in her mid-20s and went to college at Boise State University that she decided to become an artist. She will graduate this spring.
"Then I took a sculpture class, and I was hooked," she says. Harvey's work explores "the overlap between the virtual and real world and how much we're connected to social media," Harvey says.
Harvey uses a QR code as a metaphor for our sometimes-blind acceptance of the virtual as actual. You scan the code, and it unlocks another reality. Once you enter, you can lose touch with the physical existence you leave behind.
PABLO DODEZ, POCATELLO
For Pablo Dodez (pronounced Doday), art is a meditation on the intersection between the real and the sacred world. Brought up Christian, the Tennessee native also has a strong leaning to Native American spirituality. Rather than seeing them as contradictory, Dodez, 37, focuses on how they are alike in the way they seek the divine.
"My pieces are like access points," he says. "They are Gnostic pieces, filled with hidden knowledge being revealed."
Dodez's "Dehiscence" is one of two sculptures in the Triennial. The steam-bent poplar, pine and other woods appear to open to reveal what's underneath.
The title is a botanical term that describes how a seed pod bursts open to disperse its contents. It also can refer to a reopened wound. He picked it up in a class on flora he took at Idaho State University, where he recently earned his master's degree in fine arts. Dodez went back to get his master's after a career working in stained glass.
"The whole idea that because we're civilized and we have technology we're better off - I disagree. I lean more toward the primitive. I think the work provides a catharsis," he says.
ELI CRAVEN AND MARIA CHAVEZ, BOISE
Three years ago, photographer Eli Craven, 34, and architect and sculptor Maria Chavez, 41, entered the Idaho Triennial, but neither one made the cut. This time they entered with a collaborative piece, and now they're in.
"We are elated to be part of this show and this group of artists," Craven says.
They started working together a few years ago at Black Hunger, an artist cooperative they helped found in Boise's North End. Along with a few creative cohorts, they turned a funky rental into a creative working space and experimental gallery. They have since turned it over to another group.
Their sculptural installation "Canoeing: Rescue" is a work based on a Swiss Army manual on canoeing and survival Craven found in a thrift store.
"We found the imagery interesting so we pulled it out of the book, manipulated it out of context," Craven says.
Craven worked with the imagery and video; Chavez created the birch box adorned with plaster canoes.
This is the first time their work will be in a museum.
"We were hoping to make that leap (to a museum) with the context of this piece," he says. "We want to participate in the dialogue in this community."
TOM FINNEGAN, BOISE
Tom Finnegan, 36, likes to work with his hands - tinkering on his car, working around the house, building computer circuit boards. But nothing compares with sculpture.
"It's the thing that is ultimately satisfying," Finnegan says. "I see things in 3D. That's how my mind works best."
An arts major at Boise State, Finnegan entered the Triennial on a whim and was delighted to get in. You'll see his aluminum sculpture of a dandelion, "Taraxacum Tormentum."
"It's not just that it's an annoying weed," he says. "They're just a plant. It's a flower and there is beauty in that and it's something you eat."
STACIE CHAPPELL, MERIDIAN
Stacie Chappell, 44, started painting in high school in Louisville, Ky., where she grew up. Since then, she honed her style in three different states over 20 years as a minimalist in color and design. Then she moved to Boise in 2005 and something changed. Color started creeping into her work.
Her husband's job took the couple to Seattle for a few years, where she began showing at IMA Gallery and exhibiting internationally, continuing her colorful journey.
The couple returned to Idaho and settled in Meridian last year. She decided to submit for the Triennial and is thrilled to be part of it.
Chappell works intuitively and quickly. She uses acrylics, inks, enamel and fabric dyes to integrate form, color and patterns on canvas. Her approach infuses her work with a sense of immediacy.
"I don't second-guess myself anymore," Chappell says.