Arts notes: Chalk art and the ‘Chicken Lady’

One of my favorite Boise events is the Idaho Statesman’s Chalk Art Festival on the Fourth of July. For full disclosure, I help the organizers with this event. I participate because it’s a wonderful way to experience the creativity that’s alive in our community.

Artists start drawing their sidewalk murals in the early morning in the middle of Ann Morrison Park. As the day progresses, the park fills up with people. Many families make their way down after the We the People Fourth of July parade in Downtown Boise. They check out the progress of the artwork, support friends, and, of course, get a great seat for the city of Boise’s fireworks display, which shoots off from the east end of the park at dusk.

It’s a great way to spend the afternoon. Kids 11 and younger can draw their own masterpieces at nearby Chalk Land, with supplies donated by Craft Warehouse, and play in the fountain. Food and beverages will be for sale, including beer and wine, and you can bring your own picnic, too.

After participating for three years as one of the Statesman’s featured artists, Lauren T. Kistner has developed a following of fans.

“I have people who want to see the Chicken Lady,” she says.

Each year, Kistner creates bold and beautiful portraits of her backyard flock. Her hens are not just for fresh eggs, she says. They’re her creative spark.

“If you have chickens, you get addicted,” Kistner says. “They’re such amazing pets. I have one that when I come home, she sits on my lap, and I can pet her like a kitten.”

Kistner’s working on this year’s chicken portrait already, doing practice versions on the concrete outside her Boise home.

As a featured artist, Kistner will be joined by Treasure Valley Artist Alliance co-founder Melissa Chambers, painter Chi Westin, illustrator Scott Pentzer and painter and former People’s Choice award-winner Danielle Mierzwa. Stay tuned for more artists to come.

One of the best parts, Kistner says, is watching the artists work, especially the community artists.

“It’s such an inspiring day,” she says.

You can be part of this convergence of art and community at the sixth annual Idaho Statesman Chalk Art Festival in conjunction with Boise City’s 4th of July Celebration. You can watch the artists work and vote for your favorites, or you can be one of the artists yourself.

The Chalk Art Festival takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 4. Winners in the adult and youth categories will be announced from the main stage at 5 p.m. Artists can preregister at It costs $10 for ages 12 to 17, $15 for 18 and older and $20 for teams of two to four (adult and/or youth).

The city’s events include a music stage with a lineup that will be announced later. The Mobile Recreation Van will offer kids games and activities. George’s Cycles will host bicycle events, including a rodeo and bike-decorating contest. You can drop in on dance, yoga and arts and crafts activities and Slide the City on the 1,000-foot water slide. It’s $16 for one slide, $31 for three ($30 and $45 on the day of the event). It’s all from noon to 7 p.m. Find more details at

It’s Shakespeare season

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival opens its 39th season this weekend. It’s one of the best things you can do outside in Boise — and it doesn’t require wheels, water or running shoes. It does, however, usually require a delicious picnic, wine of your choice and the willingness to engage in a world-class theatrical experience in a relaxed outdoor setting.

For tips on the first requirement, check out the Savor feature on page 52 in this issue for food writer James Patrick Kelly’s advice on where to find creative picnic fodder.

This year, there are a few new elements to note. As you may remember, the Fool Squad Greenshows are no longer, but new artistic associate and actor Tom Ford has organized a few surprises for the season. On Tuesday nights, the Fool Squad’s Tom Willmorth will lead you in “Trivia Tuesdays” with fun “Shakespearean and Boisean” triva. As usual, be careful of your food. On other nights, the Greenshow will highlight local musicians Frim Fram Four, Classical Revolution and Kevin Kirk and Onomatopoeia. So, still come early and enjoy. Greenshows start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays.

The festival is adding an educator night this season with discounted tickets for teachers for “The Tempest” on June 10, with a panel discussion with the cast and creatives at 7 p.m.

ISF’s season will run through Sept. 27. Plays run in repertory, so check the calendar for specific dates.

“Dial M for Murder,” directed by producing artistic director Charlie Fee, opens the season May 30. Frederick Knott’s play inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film noir classic about a woman whose husband is plotting murder.

That’s quickly followed by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” on June 6. Directed by Drew Barr, it features David Anthony Smith as the exiled duke turned magician Prospero. Smith is known for his powerful performances in roles such as Iago in 2010’s “Othello” and Launce in 2011’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” This marks Barr’s return to ISF after directing productions of “War Horse” in Holland and Australia.

This season’s centerpiece musical is “The Secret Garden,” directed by Victoria Bussert. It opens on July 4. It’s the tale of a young girl who loses her family to cholera in India and comes home to England to live at her uncle’s estate. There she finds hope and heals tragedy in a forgotten garden. The production brings back Stephen Mitchell Brown, who wowed Boise with his portrayal of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” and features the debut of two young performers: Giovanna A. Layne, from Cleveland, and her Boise understudy Kinsley Wardle, as Mary Lennox.

The heat of August brings power, corruption and tragedy to the festival with “King Lear,” directed by Joe Hanreddy and starring Aled Davies in the title role. Hanreddy directed “King Richard III” in 2013, and Davies, a longtime company member, has played Julius Caesar, Oberon and Falstaff in past years.

The September play is the musical “The Fantasticks,” also directed by Bussert. It runs Sept. 4-27. One of the most popular musicals in history, it tells a story of love, tradition, friendship and magic with beautiful songs such as “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”

The ISF Amphitheater is at 5657 Warm Springs Ave., Boise. Plays are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays. Season tickets and three, four, five and flex-show tickets run $106-$350 and student packages run $50-$65 at Individual tickets run $18-$44. Discount nights include all previews and Family Night (the first Sunday of each run) online or at the box office at 336-9221.

On the film front

Boise filmmaker Will Von Tagen will launch his first feature “Almosting It” (formerly “The Other Side of September”) with a red carpet premiere at The Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise, at 6:30 p.m. June 24 as a benefit for Make-A-Wish Idaho. You’ll see most of the Boise-based cast and crew on the red carpet.

Boise duo Edmond Dantes (Andrew Stensaas and Ryan Peck) and their band will perform their soundtrack for the film before the screening. Everyone who attends will go home with a copy of the soundtrack.

Following the event, you can mix and mingle at a VIP reception at the new Amsterdam Bar, 607 W. Main St., Boise. Von Tagen is working on getting more film swag for VIPs.

“Almosting It” is a term from James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” It means not quite getting it right. And that’s the film’s central character’s predicament.

Von Tagen wrote, directed and stars in the film about a young writer who is trying to get his life going in the right direction. He works part time at a retirement community, where he meets a suave older playboy (played by “The Six Million Dollar Man” Lee Majors) who coaches him on how to get the girl. It co-stars Ballet Idaho’s Jessica Sulikowski, Boise actors Annie Bulow and Jane Merrow and “Weekend at Bernie’s” Terry Kiser.

Tickets are $30 general, $50 for VIP reception at Brown Paper Tickets.

You can read more about Von Tagen and the Idaho film scene at

Learn about Boise

Preservation Idaho will bring back its high-flying fundraiser “Up on the Roof: A Bird’s Eye View of Boise.” “Up on the Roof Deux” will happen from 6 to 9 p.m. June 20 at rooftops throughout the city. The self-guided tour will take you to the top of some of Downtown Boise’s tallest buildings for a little education, great views, live music, food, drink and conversation. It happens every other year. This time, the tour will hit the tops of The Hoff Building (Bannock and 8th streets), The Owyhee (1109 W. Main St.), the offices of Holland & Hart (the 17th floor of the Eighth & Main Building) and Plaza 121 (121 N. 9th St.). Tickets are $50 at The funds go to help Preservation Idaho’s education and advocacy programs across the state.

You also can learn more about Boise’s architecture this summer with Preservation Idaho’s “WalkAbout Boise,” a walking tour of some of Downtown’s notable buildings, blocks and history. Spend 90 minutes learning about the streets you walk every day, starting with the Basque Block at 6th and Grove streets, and looping your way through Downtown neighborhoods. Walks leave at 11 a.m. Saturdays through Oct. 31. Tickets are $10 general, $8 for members at