Boise & Garden City

Boise to remove Downtown’s iconic Basque Mural. Here’s what you’ll see in its place.

Artist Noel Weber on Boise's Basque Block mural

The Letterheads are a group of sign artists who meet in cities across the U.S. and leave hand-painted murals behind. Boise sign artist Noel Weber is an original member. He talks about the mural the group left in Boise's Basque Block, near Bar Gern
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The Letterheads are a group of sign artists who meet in cities across the U.S. and leave hand-painted murals behind. Boise sign artist Noel Weber is an original member. He talks about the mural the group left in Boise's Basque Block, near Bar Gern

The mural in Downtown Boise that depicts traditional Basque scenes on the side of a building is deteriorating, and portions have peeled off. So the city plans to remove it.

The City Council approved a plan Tuesday to replace the mural — on the Basque Block near the west end of Grove Street — with a new version, painted by the same artists who did the original. The new one will recreate the original’s scenes as closely as possible, city spokesman Mike Journee said.

To save money, the replacement actually will be an enlarged copy of a new, much smaller painting that is perhaps 2 or 3 feet by 10 feet, said Josh Olson, cultural asset program manager for Boise’s Department of Arts and History. The artists will provide a scanned image of the painting to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, which will pay to produce and install the larger, vinyl copy. The vinyl mural will have the same size — 8 feet by 48 feet — as the original, Journee said.

The city will pay for the original painting, though the amount isn’t determined yet, Olson said. “It would be considerable savings compared to redoing a mural,” he said.

The artists will be Bill Hueg and Noel Weber, who are part of a group called The Letterheads, which painted the original Basque Mural and donated it to the city 18 years ago. It hangs on panels bolted to the west-facing wall of the 104-year-old Anduiza Fronton building.

The Letterheads have a tradition: meeting in cities across the U.S. and leaving hand-painted murals behind. Boise was the recipient of three Letterhead murals in 2000 — one at Hannifin’s Cigar on Main Street, one at the Adelmann Building on Idaho Street, and the one on the Basque Block at the end of Grove Street. The city has no plans to replace the Adelmann mural, which is in better shape than the Basque Mural, Journee said. The Hannifin’s mural does not belong to the city, he said.

The paint Weber and Hueg used was meant to last 10 to 12 years, Olson said.

“We’ve just gotten every bit of life out of that mural that we can, but it’s not salvageable,” he said. “And so, in an effort to keep that iconography alive, this was the best plan we could come up with.”

The city doesn’t yet have a schedule for installing the new artwork, Olson said.

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