Boise shifts into high gear with new public art projects

The latest bird's-eye view of the Broadway Bridge construction

Construction on the Broadway Bridge in Downtown Boise is expected until last until early fall. Here's the latest view of the progress.
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Construction on the Broadway Bridge in Downtown Boise is expected until last until early fall. Here's the latest view of the progress.

UPDATE: The Department of Arts and History’s new website will launch on Friday, July 22.

Boise City’s Department of Arts and History is on a roll for cultural development. The past year had been pretty low key, with several public art pieces on hold, waiting for construction projects to finish, funding to finalize and the city’s cultural plan to take shape.

Now things are falling into place, and there is a plethora of projects coming down the pike, including the Broadway Bridge and Rhodes Skate Park.

Some highlights:

▪  The department will launch its new interactive website on Friday, July 22. It’s been in development for more than a year, says Rachel Reichert, community relations coordinator for the city. The site will have all new content in a more visual and compelling way with a focus on the intersection of art and history. You will be able to see all of the city’s collections online, including public art, the traffic boxes, digital works, the Boise Visual Chronicle and historical artifacts.

“There are a little over 2,000 pieces, and they will be easily searchable,” Reichert says.

▪  The city has new public art brochures that allow you to do a self-guided tour by location. You can pick the brochures up at Boise City Hall and other public buildings.

▪  The construction project that’s been monopolizing the east side of Downtown — the Broadway Bridge project — is certain to have more of an artistic bent. Artist and architect Byron Folwell has been part of the bridge’s design team.

“The original design was very engineered,” Boise City Public Arts Manager Karen Bubb says. “So the city paid for Byron to work on the project. They had never worked with an artist before. It’s important for people to know that the look of the bridge is because there was an artist involved.”

Folwell worked with Idaho Transportation Department engineers to come up with an interesting design with features that will make it part of the urban fabric. The bridge’s edge is scalloped with belvederes to create lookout points along the pedestrian path and bicycle lanes so you can stop and enjoy the views of the Boise River and Julia Davis Park.

“We really saw the bridge as a walkway, thoroughfare and a gathering point for people,” Folwell says. “Just think how many people walk across it for a Boise State game.” The bridge is projected to be open in time for this season’s first Boise State football home game.

▪  There are 37 new traffic box wrap murals on tap. Some are already installed, such as Chris Butler’s “Colored Bikes” at Front and 8th streets. The art pieces are vinyl wraps that decorate the ubiquitous traffic control boxes at intersections. The Traffic Box Program is now spreading out of the Downtown core into other parts of the city.

▪  A new interactive piece by New York artist Janet Zweig at the Bown Crossing Library will allow people to write poetry, flash fiction or other literary forms on a typewriter attached to a giant roll of sculpted paper. The writings will be on display and logged into an archive that the city will keep in perpetuity. The new library is expected to open early next year.

▪  The city also is kicking off the second phase of public art at the Boise WaterShed interpretive center at the West Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant, 11818 W. Joplin Road, Boise. It’s creating an outdoor park that’s filled with sculpture and interactive art pieces that relate to the water cycle. This should be completed in August.

▪  Rhodes Skate Park, 1555 W. Front St., will contain some cool sculpture pieces and a dedicated parkour obstacle course. The project will include murals by aerosol artists Sector Seventeen and an art fence designed by Perri Howard as well as other sculptural elements. This also should be completed in August.

There are more city art projects in the offing; see for information.

HomeGrown brings back ‘Every Man’

Boise’s HomeGrown Theatre revives one of its earlier original productions, “Every Man Shift (For All the Rest).” Written by theater co-founder Chad Ethan Shohet and actor Dakotah Brown, this comedy focuses on four friends on a last-hurrah backpacking trip that goes awry when a mysterious treasure map surfaces and leads them on a magical adventure filled with creatures, magic and a PBR-swilling mountain woman. This raucous celebration of friendship, family and growing up became a cult hit for the group when it premiered a few years ago.

8 pm. Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16, and Thursdays to Saturdays, July 21-23 and 28-30. Ming Studios, 420 S. 6th St. Pay-What-You-Can-Preview July 15, $5 on Thursdays, $10 Fridays and Saturdays at

Create with paint

Need a creative outlet, fun with friends and a cocktail? Then check out the growing trend of paint parties in area bars, restaurants and galleries.

These events are art light and fun heavy, with no experience required. You work with an art coach who will lead you through the steps to paint your own artwork that you can take home that night.

▪  Paint Nite draws from a national database of paintings. You can go to the website and search for Boise. You’ll see examples of the paintings you can choose from and sign up for “classes” at venues such as Kona Grill, Cafe Ole and Big Al’s. Parties run $45 per person and include paints, brushes and canvas.

▪  Boise Creative Center, 1204 W. Front St., offers paint parties every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. with the center’s owner, Alex Vega, and other teachers. Parties cost $35 per person and include all the equipment. Private parties also can be booked for birthdays and other occasions. For information, call 371-9697.

▪  Paint’n’Sip runs classes and parties out of its studio, 5626 W. State St., Boise. The teachers also will come to your home for a party, and you can book your own studio time to work on projects. Classes are $35 and include supplies. Sign up or book a party at

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