Words & Deeds

Has Boise lost its marbles? ‘Keepsies’ kids vanish from new Grove Plaza

A photograph of “Keepsies” in The Grove Plaza in 1998.
A photograph of “Keepsies” in The Grove Plaza in 1998. Statesman file

The newly renovated Grove Plaza is sure to impress during a June 7 unveiling ceremony in Downtown Boise.

But Boiseans strolling across the freshly laid bricks might wonder if they’ve lost their marbles.

Like, where’s “Keepsies”?

The sculpture of a girl and two boys playing marbles has been a Grove Plaza fixture for decades. Parents photographed their children next to it. Out-of-towners squatted for a closer look.

“It’s in Boise,” assures Doug Woodruff, project manager for Capital City Development Corporation, the city’s urban renewal agency.

To make way for Grove Plaza construction, “Keepsies” temporarily was relocated outside the Dick Eardley Boise Senior Center, 690 Robbins Road.

Now the bronze children and their marbles have set up camp for good there.

“It’s permanent,” says Terri Schorzman, director of the Department of Arts and History, which owns the sculpture. “People love them over there. So many elderly and kids are going in and out of there, it just seemed like the right spot for it.”

“... We love that it transcends the generations that visit the center,” Schorzman adds. “Senior citizens, in particular, have enjoyed it as it reminds them of their youth playing marbles.”

I visited the sculpture on a quiet morning last week. As an older man ambled past using a walker, the motionless “Keepsies” kids did seem pretty content. They’re also a marble’s toss away from Fort Boise Community Center.

Maybe it is time for “Keepsies” to retire — away from the bustle of the modern Grove Plaza. “Keepsies” paid its dues. It was 1985 when the Boise City Arts Commission and CCDC commissioned the sculpture from ex-Idaho Statesman artist Ann LaRose.

Think how much Boise has changed since then.

Still, I’ll miss those kids. Especially at Alive After Five. Downtown’s weekly music series kicks off June 7 during that same unveiling party at The Grove Plaza.

“A lot of people ask me ... ‘When are the marble kids coming back?’ ” Woodruff says.

Just as soon as they finish their game.

• • • 

Skip to the 6:24 mark of this video of Downtown Boise from 1988 for a glimpse of the early life of “Keepsies.” (Or, if you have time, watch the entire video. It’s a nostalgia trip.)

Alive After Five bands

With Boise’s free summer series kicking off in less than three weeks, music fans are starting to wonder when the band schedule will be announced.

Here’s the thing. It probably won’t be announced — at least not all at once. Years ago, the Downtown Boise Association revealed the entire Alive After Five lineup in advance. But in recent times, it’s been metered out a month at a time. I’d expect information about all the June bands to go public next week.

That said, the cat’s out of the bag regarding a handful of touring headliners: jammy folk-pop group Shook Twins (June 7), blues-rocker Too Slim & The Taildraggers (June 21), alt-folk trio Magic Giant (July 19), Southern psych-rock band Major and the Monbacks (Aug. 2) and British indie-rockers Scars on 45 (Aug. 9).

Stay tuned.

Locals Deadheads step it up

▪  You don’t need a miracle to see a local band perform Grateful Dead cover songs with creativity, precision and reverence. You just need Grateful, a Boise group performing at 9 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at Hannah’s in Downtown Boise ($10).

Comprised of well-known local musicians such as Bernie Reilly, Sean Hatton and Jon Engelund, the group uses the same instrumentation arsenal the Dead used: two guitarists, two drummers, a bass, keys ... “Even Donna,” Engelund says, referring to Donna Jean Godchaux, who sang with the Dead from 1972 to 1979. (Boise singer Christine Thomas fills that role.)

“This isn’t some hack bar band covering the Dead,” Engelund promises. “We are a true tribute band. ... The show consists of two full sets, with drums and space incorporated into the second set, just as the Rhythm Devils performed with the Dead over the years.”

Since 2015, Grateful has performed at Garden City’s Visual Arts Collective on Halloween — and will keep doing that. But this spring, the group will bring the San Francisco Sound to Downtown Boise.

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