May’s First Thursday is the last for Gallery Five18, 518 Americana Blvd., Boise. Longtime gallery owners and artists Mark and Jerri Lisk are ending this gallery’s four-year run with a combined show of their work. The gallery will close on Wednesday, May 31.
Mark Lisk is a well-known photographer who specializes in evocative landscapes of the American West. He also produces several books and a popular Idaho-themed calendar each year.
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Jerri Lisk is a painter whose colorful, stylized landscapes on aluminum have made her one of the most popular artists in the area.
The Lisks have decided to retire from the art retail business and focus on their own careers.
They have a long history in Boise’s business community.
Jerri Lisk opened her small Lisk Studio on Idaho Street in Downtown Boise in 2001. Then the couple expanded in 2003 and opened Lisk Gallery on Main Street, where they mostly showed their own work. They eventually offered space to painter Carl Rowe, who is known for his Boise Foothills landscapes. The Lisks moved the gallery to South 8th Street in BoDo in 2010. When they moved to 518 Americana in 2014, they invited their friends — some of the most-established artists in the area — to join the gallery near the Downtown core.
Closing the gallery was a difficult decision, Mark Lisk said when the closing was announced earlier this year.
“I’m very conflicted about it,” he said. “I know our artists are disappointed but they know how hard it is to run an arts business in Boise.”
Many well-respected galleries, including J. Crist Gallery, Brown’s Gallery and Brumfield’s Gallery, have closed over the years as the marketplace shifted from storefronts to online.
The Treasure Valley is home to a few artist-run collectives, such as Art Source Gallery, 1015 W. Main St., and Art Zone 208, 3113 N. Cole Road in Boise. LaBry Fine Art Gallery opened in 2016 in the 8th Street Marketplace, 404 S. 8th St. in Boise. Many artists also show their work at the area’s Saturday farmers markets.
Over the years, the traditional gallery district model has never really worked in Boise like it does in Portland or Seattle, where clusters of arts-related businesses draw tourists and locals.
The Boise Art Museum is a popular attraction in the Treasure Valley, and Idaho Statesman readers select the Boise Art Museum as the “Best Gallery” year after year in the Best of Treasure Valley contest. But traditionally, the role of a museum is to acquire and exhibit work by regional, national and local artists; the role of a gallery is to sell art, which is an important ingredient in a thriving arts community.
“The art scene in Boise presently consists of various art collectives and co-ops. No traditional galleries flourish here,” Rowe wrote in an email he sent out to his clients. “We have a glut of artists with very few venues to show work consistently. Anyone aspiring to being a professional artist has a tough time here.”
Rowe plans to use his studio as an exhibit space and focus on online sales. The Lisks own the 2,400-square-foot building and are not sure what they will do with it after the gallery closes, Mark Lisk said.