Heading to The Modern Hotel and Bar this weekend? Take a stroll to the alley side of the building and see “Wonder Stories,” a large-scale mural by Basque artist Judas Arrieta that now spans the length of the hotel’s north exterior.
It opened officially on Sept. 1, with a First Thursday bash.
Arrieta is the first recipient of The Modern’s International Artist Residency, something owner Elizabeth Tullis started after she ended the hotel’s “Modern Art” event in May. This is another way she can support Boise’s arts community, she says.
She and The Modern staff also produce other events: “39 Rooms,” an ongoing in-room film festival; “Campfire Stories,” a summer and fall literary reading series; the “Infinite Scroll” revolving art wall on the front of the building; and “Burning Lamb,” an event during the Treefort Music Fest.
This is the next phase, Tullis says.
“We are looking for ways to keep art going here, but expand from Modern Art, because it outgrew us,” she says. “There are a lot of things I’d like to do. So this is an evolving thing.”
Arrieta first came to Boise for a Ming Studios artist residency during the 2015 Jaialdi Basque Festival. He created an installation titled “Boiseland,” which captured the essence of being a Basque in Boise in the 21st century with large paintings, film and painted skate decks.
Tullis brought Arrieta to Boise for the final Modern Art in May. During that time, he created paintings for the lobby. Now he’s back and has taken over the expanse of wall on the back of the building.
“Wonder Stories” expands on his “Boiseland” ideas and incorporates ideas of landscape and nature with echoes of contemporary and retro American popular culture through comics, TV, ads and new media. These elements were important to the artist as a kid growing up in the Basque Country.
“I realize that me, a Basque guy growing up in the Basque Country, maybe I know more things about these aspects of Americana than someone growing up here,” Arrieta says. “I grew up with music, comics, TV series, cowboy movies and the story of Native Americans.”