Bon Temps Le Boi — My New Perspective

One of the nice things about the time we spend in New Orleans is that I never run out of things to write about. Returning home to Boise feels like maybe I have nothing new to say — but that’s not true. It’s just that I lose my perspective wandering in the forest of familiarity.

Since we returned home this time I’ve been thinking of how I might view my life in Boise through NOLA-tinted glasses. Through the “Bon Temps Le Boi” lense, if you see where I’m going.

In New Orleans we focus on the celebration of food, art, music, and the creativity, originality, and humor with which people consistently express themselves. Last I looked, we have all of those things in ample supply right here in little ol’ Boy-see, Idahome.

Mike Chambers at Tomas Montana's exhibition

So, Mike and I are recommitting to celebrating the art-filled life we have available to us right here. We are starting by getting out as much as possible and participating in what Boise has to offer. Like this week: First Thursday in June…

We began our evening at Gallery 518 where we saw the exhibition ‘everything needn’t always be something’ by Tomas Montano. It is something.

Tomas Montano's Boise Weekly Cover
“Rosabel” by Tomas on the Cover of the Boise Weekly

Melissa and Tomas

Then we dropped by the Art Source gallery to see Ann Sorenson’s work,

Ann Sorenson and Melissa Chambers @ Art Source

including her watercolor “Bridge to Boise”….

"Bridge to Boise" by Ann Sorenson

And while there happened to meet an unexpected, and charming character, Randy B. Fowler.

Randy B Fowler and Melissa Chambers@Art Source

On our way to Freak Alley we ran into Colby —

Colby talking to Melissa Chambers

the guy who started the freak ball rolling when he drew all over this door:


I’m glad we live in a city that doesn’t just tolerate, but actually celebrates street art.

Freak Alley wall

Mike Chambers in Freak Alley

There was even some live music on the street, like the folk/pop songs of Fiona Luray and her partner Lettie who were playing out in front of Artisan Optics.

Fiona and Lettie playing on First Thursday

Our last art stop of the evening was Evermore Gallery where we met Samuel Paden the featured artist,

Sam Paden and Melissa Chambers at Evermore Gallery

Sam Paden's exhibition postcard

Melissa Chambers and Lawrence Manning at Evermore Gallery

and ran into several friends, including Lawrence Manning, who told me he and Betty Mallorca are renovating another building in Nampa in addition to their current home and gallery space, Track 13. I guess we’ll get to include Nampa in our new perspective.

All that art walking and talking made us hungry so we headed to Old Chicago for a bite afterwards. It might not have been Oysters Rockafeller or Crawfish Ettoufe, but the Jamaican Jerk chicken wings I had hit the spot nonetheless.

Chicken wings at Old Chicago

Art, music, unique characters, and food. I think Boise’s got it all.

Bon Temps Le Boi!!

Enough IS Enough!

I can not remember a time when I went without. I can not remember a time when I did not have more than I needed. I have never gone hungry. I have never gone thirsty. I have never been too cold, or too hot, for too long. I have always felt safe, and confident of the goodness of the people in my world. And I have always had more than enough of everything I could possibly ever need.

Way more.

Enough is Enough

In fact one of the many gifts of my life has been the largesse of the material world. Maybe not in coin, but most definitely in goods. I have always been able to “turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.” I can find it second hand and make it into something Anthropologie would charge you beau coup bucks to own, and as a result I have accumulated way more than I will ever be able to use.

I know I am not alone in reaching this stage in our lives when we gasp “Whoa Nelly, enough is enough!”

Enough is Enough

How did this happen? Wasn’t it yesterday that everything we owned could fit into our backpack?. . . Car? . . . Studio apartment? Can’t we blame this on the kids? Didn’t we accumulate all of this stuff in order to make a home for them? And what about the fact that I am an artist? I need this stuff as raw material for art — don’t I?

Enough is Enough

I have moved house many times, and every time I’ve moved I have purged and donated, recycled and thrown away tons of stuff. I do it as I’m packing and I do it again as I’m unpacking. This latest move is the first time that we are actually “downsizing” however, and that means I have a much smaller house in which to try and make everything fit.

Enough is Enough

It’s not working.

Enough is enough

Yes. This is my garage.

Enough is enough

And this is the storage room I’ve renamed the butler’s pantry/monument to materialism…

Enough is enough

but which is in fact an embarrassment of riches.

Enough is enough

If there isn’t a Twelve Step program for this kind of problem, there should be. I admitt I’m powerless over my ability to accumulate more than I need. I’m willing to take inventory. And I’m ready to give it back.

Most of it.

Well, a lot of it anyway.

When we moved out of our last house we had a driveway sale, and as the day wore on we switched our signs from “REALLY” “CHEAP” “STUFF” to “FREE” “STUFF,” “REALLY!”

Enough is enough

I’m thinking I need to do that again at our new place.

Enough is enough


Boise International Market Burned Down

The Boise International Market has been destroyed by a kitchen fire.


I’ve been sitting here with my fingers resting on the keyboard trying to figure out how to say what I am finding it very hard to find words to express. I’m not even sure why I feel so personally bereft by the black hole which has replaced the colorful, vibrant, inspiring place that was the Boise International Market. I just know its existence had made me happy, and hopeful. It helped me believe that I live in a city which is opening its heart and way of life to other cultures — to an appreciation for different foods, styles of dress, music, visual art, and above all, the people themselves who share their spirits with us through all of those things.

The Boise International Market was the inspiration behind my design for the traffic box on the corner of Curtis and Edson. I created a 4′ x 10′ tarpestry covered with ethnic motifs inspired by the patterns I saw on clothing in Thara Rita’s shop, and upholstry in the seating area of The Goodness Land.


I enjoyed a lovely pot of tea drunk from a cup of my choosing at Joyful Tea, and had coffee several times from Kahve Coffee. But I didn’t take full advantage of all that the Market had to offer. My plan was to eat at all the restaurants eventually. Of course that was the plan. But I forgot that everything changes and it doesn’t always work out that what I want will be there when I’m ready for it. I had to be reminded yet again that “just doing it” is the only way to ensure I get it done.

There is a site called where you can donate to the International Market Family Fund to help raise money for the individual vendors. We need to do everything we can to assure that places like the Boise International Market and especially the people who make those places happen know they are valued. Because a community which does not express the happy, hopeful, inspiring diversity of life – like the Boise International Market, is not a place anyone would want to call home.

(Just doing it!)

I look forward to the rise of this phoenix from the ashes.

Making a Splash at Reel Foods


The Fish Tarpestries are up!


Terry Burkes and I met at Reel Foods this morning and put them up together.

I’ll be adding a few more velcro straps here and there to help keep them a bit straighter, but they look awesome — if I do say so myself!


You know what else looks awesome?

The totally fresh seafood at Reel Foods.


After we finished installing the tarpestries, Terry and I were treated to some wonderful Sushi — we had the Boise River roll with smoked trout. And, I am very impressed by, and can’t wait to try, the variety of oysters they offer. Chef Mark thinks the Steamboat oysters will charcoal grill nicely — just the way we loved them in New Orleans!


Hungry yet? (Jeez, I am!)

Well, you should go to Reel Foods on Capitol Blvd. and check them out…


the fresh seafood, AND the Fresh Fish Tarpestries!

Open House!

We’re having an Open House on Saturday, June 20th from 11:00 to 2:00. If you’re house-hunting I hope you’ll come by so you can actually be IN the space and really experience what a cool house it is! Pictures may be worth a 1000 words, but this is one time that 3-D, rather than 2-D, really makes a difference.

I am a visual thinker. I’m good at going into a space, stripping it down to its bare bones and then overlaying my vision of what it could be “on top”.

Looking at floor plans and arranging my stuff within them is one of my favorite things to do. Since we’ve begun the process of selling our house I’ve spent more time than I care to admit looking at photos of places we might buy once this house is sold, and figuring out ways I could make them work for our needs.

We have something like 25 photos of our house on the “virtual tour” but if you are like me and you are trying to understand the arrangement of the rooms within the 3447 sq. ft spread over 3 floors you might be having a bit of difficulty piecing it together.

So, to make it easier for you between now and the Open House, here are some sketches of our floor-plan, as well as photos of “transitions” between rooms which you won’t see on the virtual tour:


You enter the house on the main floor. The front door faces South. The kitchen faces East and gets lovely morning sun, the bedrooms face West and the one in the Northwest corner looks into the backyard through the leaves of the plum tree right outside the window.


(The front door on the South side of the house, and a peek into the hallway.):

(Standing in LR/DR facing into hall between main floor bedrooms):

(Standing in that hall looking into the NW bedroom with the view of the back yard. That’s a built-in linen cupboard between the painting and the bedroom door.):

(Standing in the hall looking into the NW bedroom, the “study” and the living room.):

(Stairs to the 2nd floor are in the center of the main floor off the little hallway between the bedrooms. You can see into the “study” on the left side.):

(The view from the “study” across the landing into the kitchen.):

(Looking from between the “study” and the kitchen down the stairs to the basement.):

(Looking from between the “study” and the kitchen the other way, down the stairs to the Butler’s Pantry and the back door.):

(The Butler’s Pantry is to the right of the back door, on the landing between stairs down to the utility room, and up to the main floor.):

(Standing in the kitchen looking back toward the LR/DR.):


The 2nd floor rooms are on the East/West axis. I use them as studio spaces, but they would make great guest rooms, or bedrooms for kids.

(The view into the room on the East side.):

(The view from the room on the West side looking back down the hall to the room on the East side.):

(The room on the West side.):

The basement is basically an entire house unto itself. It was Logan’s apartment while we were a Certified Family Home and has a legal egress which we had installed in the bedroom.


(The bedroom also has a really cool “nook” which we built shelves in and which Logan used as a “book nook.”):


(There’s a room off the utility room which we use as a work room. It has built in storage on the South wall and with a little TLC could be converted to a 6th bedroom.):



(We also have a storage room under the stairs which I call the “holiday room” since that’s where I store all my Christmas, Easter, and other seasonal decorations.):

All of the above — I know, I know, I’m risking overloading you with visual information — but, all of the above should help fill in the inevitable gaps in any virtual tour of less than 50 pictures.

If you need more than this, then for heaven’s sake COME TO THE OPEN HOUSE ON SATURDAY BETWEEN 11:00 AND 2:00!!!

I need a nap.

The World is My Oyster

Our sojourn in New Orleans is over for now. We are back in Boise, and as usually happens to me when I travel and have a literal change of perspective, I’m in an entirely different “place” than I was when we left.

If you’ve been following my blog you have undoubtedly gathered how much New Orleans means to me and to Mike. How vital it is to our sense of being who we truly are as artists, as a family and as citizens of the world. It is our true “heart home,” the place we feel WE belong.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Boise too! It’s like Boise is our BFF, and New Orleans is our Soul Mate, and we believe we can have both. It’s just going to get a little complicated around here while we make that happen!

I know you have heard me muse on ways we are better using our house in Boise as our artists’ home — repurposing rooms as studio space,


turning our former living room into a “gallery”


and Logan’s former apartment into our new living room



and studio space.



That’s been done, and it absolutely works for us as it reflects the way we live now that we are empty nesters who also happen to be artists.

BUT…we want to have another home in New Orleans too, and we can’t do that and keep this house. So, our plan is to sell this house and buy two condos — one in Boise, and one in New Orleans.

We have bought and sold houses before, but there has never been a house I’ve loved as much — or have poured as much of myself into — as this house. It hurts physically to think about selling it, but no pain, no gain, right? My wish is that someone will fall in love with it the way I did and I can hand it over to them with a light heart.

Wish us luck as we embark on this next phase of our lives which I have dubbed “Bon Temps Le Boi.”


Who says you can’t have your oysters raw, and chargrilled too?!

In Like a Lamb

I’m taking real liberties with that title because I’m not referring to either March or the weather. See today as I write it is January 4th — a day I have been very careful to spend quietly, just like a little lamb, so as to avoid any possible conflicts with those near and dear to me brought on by the “thorny full moon” which is currently under siege from Pluto and Uranus. Seriously.

You would too if your silverware did this whenever you ate out…


Or the street lights all did this when you drove by…



I think that full moon might exert a little pull where I’m concerned. Anyway, so far so good.

Even more good news is that this is supposed to be a gangbusters (“gangbusters”…don’t you ever wonder if these words really mean what you think they do?) month for my work life, and since my work life is really making art, this should be a gangbusters month for… making art. And to that I say it’s about time!

I’ve spent most of my time lately setting things up so that I can make art, and have a place to show it. I’ve even helped a tiny bit to influence the city I live in to appreciate the fact there are a bunch of us here worth getting to know.

But now it’s time for me to just Make Art. To materialize the inventory I’m carrying around in my head. To move from the “To-Due List” to “Just Doing It”, and I am really, really ready.

What makes this year different from last year is that I am entirely on my own as far as incentive goes. Last year I had both the Treefort Public Art project, and See Spot Walk, plus four shows to curate for TVAA.

This year we are going to New Orleans for two months and that will briefly restrict the size of the work I can do, but besides that I am unencumbered by responsibility to anyone or any organization. I am my own boss. Soy Chingona!

As part of his New Year’s Resolutions Mike is reading a blog called Art Biz Blog written by an Artist Marketing Coach named Alyson Stanfield. I read a few of her posts as well and one sentence in one excellent post in particular (Your Job is In the Studio) caught my eye. She said: “If you don’t make art, you have nothing to market.”

She couldn’t be more correct. How do you like the gif Mike made for me when I pointed out how cunningly “make” and “art” are nestled into “market”…

The word "market" transforms into "make art." This animated GIF is designed by Melissa "Sasi" Chambers and Michael Chambers

Cool right?! What a guy, and he’s handsome too!

Anyway this got me thinking that this year will be a different sort of approach for me because I will be making art first and then marketing it. Last year the market came to me and I made the work it asked me to make. I am liking the freedom to do what I want. We will see if the market wants what I do.

Which I guess means I’ll find out if “gangbusters” actually means “blowed up good.”



Just Doing It

There does seem to be a certain amount of disconnect between living a creative life and writing a blog about it. I’m not managing to do both — you may have noticed — but that’s because I’m choosing the “living” part, and the “blogging” has had to wait.

Lately I’m obsessed with the idea of “just doing it.”

You know what I think about feeling pressured to do things just so we can say we did, but I feel equally strongly about actually DOING the ideas that keep nagging at us — especially the ones we push away because they seem too difficult or outrageous or contrary or even a little embarrassing.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you go flying off on every crazy idea that pops into your head like some sniggly baboon drunk on fermented Marula fruit. You need to have a plan, be willing to work your ass off, and see it through. Unfortunately it’s not like those movie montages where they show 6 hours or 6 days or even 6 months worth of work completed in 6 minutes — it’ll really take you those hours, days or months to complete. I just believe it will be worth it.


I am NOT now going to list all the work that I have been “just doing” which has prevented me from keeping up with this blog, though I will say that things look very different around here — literally — and though deadlines and pressure in general may actually have increased, at least I’m the one in charge.

I’ll be more specific about what’s going on soon, but for now I’m just doing it!

Time Flew!


Oh, Hello!

I guess I’ve been a wee bit distracted with things besides updating my blog these past few, … er, well…several days, but I’m back now, and I apologize!

Don’t I look contrite?


Yeah. That’s me, suffering at Tour de Fat this weekend.

Mike “Mr. Stripey,” with his bike “The Bee,” sacrificed his Saturday to accompany me.


We’ve ridden in the bike parade for 5 years now and it’s one of our very favorite things to do in the summer in Boise.

TVAA set up a booth at Tour de Fat two years in a row. We had the public paint tiny paintings of where they liked to ride their bikes in a grid we imposed over a larger painting of a bike we painted in advance. I painted the bike the first year, a red and white cruiser.

That painting hangs in the workshop at the Boise Bicycle Project.


Terry Burkes painted the bike the second year. It’s a bike made of tree bark. It hangs now in the new studio space in the offices of Boise State Public Radio.


My favorite painted bike though, is my bike. Which I painted in 2010. It always gets a lot of compliments during the parade. Especially from anyone in a tutu, and the under 10 crowd.



I’ve got lots more to tell you, but as you know, it is best to “take little bites and chew them well” — so this little bite will have to do for now!


Ride on!