Arts & Culture

Art & Roses celebrates 25 years of original art in Boise’s Julia Davis Park

Sunshine, roses, music and artwork will make for a beautiful day June 7 in Julia Davis Park at the 25th annual Art & Roses. The show puts the highlight on fine art and benefits the Memorial Rose Garden in Julia Davis Park.

On the north side of the Rose Garden, you’ll see about 60 Idaho artists who work in all forms of painting — from watercolor to oils, abstract to representational — along with a few art photographers, ceramicists and sculptors. But you’ll find no jewelry or crafts, and definitely no reproductions.

“That’s what cool about this show is that it’s all original work, and the people who come to the event are expecting to get the best of the best,” says contemporary and abstract painter Lauren T. Kistner, who has participated since 2011. She takes part in shows across the region from the Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park to the Ketchum Arts Festival.

Arts & Roses is a good show for artists, she says. It’s affordable to enter — only $25 for a spot, plus a 15 percent commission goes to the Rose Garden, and it’s small enough that people can see all of the art.

It’s primarily a painter’s venue, but in recent years the show has broadened its mix to include sculpture, photography and ceramics.

Being one of the few non-two-dimensional artists, professional mason and sculptor Charles Winkel sometimes feels like a fish out of water at Art & Roses.

“People sometimes don’t know what to make of my work,” he says, adding that it is a great place to show what he does to an appreciative audience.

It all started with ice cream and a bus tour.

In 1989, a group of Boise artists chartered a bus for a a sightseeing tour of remote Western towns. When they returned, they each did a painting inspired by the trip and put together a small outdoor show near the old Brown’s Gallery on Boise Avenue.

“It was so much fun that we decided to do it again,” remembers Marilyn Garrison. The next year, the group organized as the Centennial Art Group and partnered with the Rose Garden Society on Sundae in the Park, a fundraiser with the United Dairymen of Idaho that served up hand-packed ice cream to benefit the park’s Memorial Rose Garden.

The ice cream part melted away in 1993, and the event officially became Art & Roses. It skipped a year in 2008, when its slot coincided with an Ironman triathlon that went down Capitol Boulevard and closed off the park. But when that event moved, Art & Roses came back in 2009.

Garrison, who was part of that original group, still helps organize the event, but this will be her last year working in that capacity, she says. She and co-chair/artist Susan Kirsch will step aside after this year and pass the responsibility to a new group that includes Cherry Woodbury. She is the president of the Idaho Watercolor Society and is making room in her schedule to help produce this event.

“I guess you could say I’m really involved in the art community now,” Woodbury says. She discovered watercolor when she turned 60 about 10 years ago. Now she is a prolific painter.

The show was founded with rules to ensure the quality and consistency of the event. Artists must live within 125 miles of Boise and all the work must be original.

For photographers Ben and Joella Howard, that standard offers an opportunity for a creative challenge. Although they shoot portraits during the rest of the year, they shoot images specifically for this show.

“I’ve always loved art photography,” Joella Howard says. “I started shooting black-and-white images of architectural details and the beautiful landscapes around Boise.”

Shows like Art in the Park, a large art and craft show that benefits the Boise Art Museum in the fall, are great, Howard says. “But they’re huge. This is more like you’re part of a community of artists. This will be the only art show we do this year. It brings in a really cool crowd that asks really good questions.”

Proceeds from art sales will go to the Rose Garden Trust Fund. Stop by the Rose Society booth in the gazebo to learn more about the garden and its history.