Boise

BOOM!

Happy 4th of July!

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Mike and I were up and at’em at 6:30 this morning and gittin’ ‘er done — applying chalk to sidewalk, that is — by 7:45.

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Mike starred and striped my 1864-2014 dates commemorating the Idaho Statesman’s 150th birthday while I filled in the rocket ship and fireworks, and before you could sing all the verses to Yankee Doodle Dandy, correctly, four or five times through, 3 1/2 hours had blasted by and I was finished!

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Our pal, Lauren Kistner, was working right beside me on what will be a beautiful yellow chicken in a field of turquoise posies, but unfortunately we left before she was finished. You should check out her website/blog anyway and I bet she’ll have an update on her chalk art in a day or two.

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In the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to create several pieces of Public Art, both semi-permanent like my traffic boxes and bus shelters, and ephemeral like the Treefort Tarps and the 4th of July Chalk Art. I love everything about the process of creating the work — once I’ve jumped through the flaming hoops of the application torture-circus and been accepted, of course — but in particular I love the translation of the tiny to the GIANT.

This painting is 6 inches square:

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And this ephemeral chalk art drawing is 6 feet square, plus — I couldn’t resist coloring outside the lines:

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Sometimes the translation is done for me, like the vinyl skins made by Trademark Sign Co. for my Boise traffic box, and sometimes it’s done by me, like my tarps or my chalk art.

Either way, it’s a thrill. Kind of like fireworks.

BOOM!

Chalk Art Festival 2014

Tomorrow, for the second year in a row, I will be enjoying the beautiful Idaho summer morning air in Ann Morrison Park with a cup of joe in one hand, and a large piece of chalk in the other, as I lay out my design for this year’s Idaho Statesman’s Chalk Art Festival.

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Last year was Boise’s Sesquicentennial and my design featured a vintage firework:

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As a “featured artist” you do feel a little like a circus act with people stopping to take your picture. But this is Boise, and everyone is friendly and chatty, so for an extrovert like me it’s not a bad way to spend the morning.

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2014 is the 150th Anniversary of the Idaho Statesman newspaper — our Chalk Art Festival sponsor — and so to celebrate its birthday I am doing another vintage firework this year:

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If you’re in Boise and feeling chatty tomorrow morning, early — I’ll start around 8:00 am — come on down to Ann Morrison park and say hello.

Then stay to cheer on the over 90 artists who registered to compete (as a featured artist I’m not part of the competition) for a variety of prizes, including the chance to be one of next year’s featured artists.

See you in the morning!

Four Favorite Books for May

Being fond of patterns, it’s pretty clear I have one where my Four Favorite Book posts are concerned. First, I am always surprised by how quickly the month has passed. Wouldn’t you know — it’s almost June!

Second, I have been, yet again, too busy to read anything longer than other people’s blog posts. So, I don’t have a work of fiction to share with you this month. Lucky for you though, my third pattern is I truly love books, look to them constantly for inspiration, and have every intention of sharing my favorites with you each month. So, here goes.

Instead of reading novels, Mike and I have been spending lots of time in our backyard.

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We have plans to transform it into our perfect summer “staycation destination” and one of the books which I have found inspiring is Inside OUT, Relating Garden to House by Page Dickey, Photographs by Richard Felber, Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2000.

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The book features 13 distinct gardens attached to homes in diverse settings — including an arroyo in Phoenix, a rooftop in Manhattan, a suburban hacienda in Austin, Texas, and a backyard prairie in Lake Forest, Illinois:

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That prairie almost makes me feel like we know what we’re doing with our backyard.

(Not even close!)

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We love summer, fall, and early winter in Boise. We are however, considerably less fond of full-on winter, and the inversion — endless days of cold, flat grey skies and dry brown vistas. We are also tired of the doldrums that set in with the inevitable cabin fever we suffer as we wait for spring to arrive fully, sometime around the beginning of May.

Because we have felt this way for a while now, and because we find ourselves in a position of more freedom now that Logan has moved out and we only have our wee pack o’mutts to care for, Mike and I are thinking of spending our winters elsewhere.

Which brings me to my favorite book of Interior Design for this month: New Orleans, Elegance and Decadence, Narrative by Randolph Delehanty, Photographs by Richard Sexton, Published by Chronicle Books, 1993.

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Truth be told, this is much more than a book of interiors. It covers New Orleans’ history, explains the roots of her unique ethnic melange, and entrenched social strata, gives some insight to her celebrations, and to her melancholy. New Orleans is not a place for people who do not like to feel their feelings. New Orleans is as messy and as sticky-sweet as your beating heart would be if you were to wear it, literally, on your sleeve.

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If things work out they way we’re planning, our next winter may be a lot less grey, and a lot more, shall we say, sanguine?

For my favorite cookbook I have a real oldie but goodie for you…Mmmmm A Feastiary by Ruth Reichl, Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972.

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I was reminded of this book earlier this month when Pat Oleszko turned 67. She is featured throughout in her wonderful, crazy ensembles — highly unusual artwork for a cookbook I’d guess, even in the early ’70’s.

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To be honest, I don’t really cook out of this book but it makes for very entertaining reading. Ruth Reichel grew up to be a pretty good writer (Tender at the Bone; Comfort Me with Apples; and Garlic and Sapphires) and editor (Gourmet magazine) and it’s fun to read about her early days and see pictures of her real family and friends back in the 60’s. Kind of gives you that mellow, home-grown feeling, like a nice batch of fresh brownies.

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Finally, my art book for this month is 1000 Artist Journal Pages, Personal Pages and Inspirations, edited by Dawn DeVries Sokol, Published by Quarry Books, 2008.

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This book is just what it says it is — photographs of 1000 art journal pages (spread over 299 pages in the book) showing all sorts of artists’ personal thoughts, inspirations, methods of visually remembering really important people, places and things or, the slightest of ephemeral snippets of time.

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One of the spreads features some pages by local artist Lisa Cheney. Lisa teaches people how to create their own art journals. She will be giving a workshop for TVAA which should be awesome, so you might want to hurry and sign up for it!

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Lisa will also be on a panel of artists talking about creating and keeping art journals on Monday, June 2nd at 6:00 at the Creative Access Arts Center (500 S. 8th St. in Boise), along with fellow artists Beau Van Greener, Pam McKnight, Jeanette Ross, and drumroll please…..little ol’ me.

And now, it’s time to go enjoy my backyard — while it vaguely resembles a prairie, and the poppies are still taller than the crab grass!

Confluence

I’ve been working on a woodcut for a collaborative print which I’ll be producing with three other artists at Wingtip Press. Our piece features a bird’s eye view of the Boise River which runs through each of our very differently patterned blocks and ties the four pieces together. Each of us chose a theme appropriate to the river — cottonwood fluff, a nest of goose eggs in the tall grass, trees along the river’s bank, and my block which has an overall pattern of feathers.

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The process of creating the block has been really satisfying as I had forgotten how much fun it is to carve one, and then be able to make multiple images. I literally had not carved a block since I was 9 years old!

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While all of this was going on, I got together with a new friend I met a year ago but had not been able to reconnect with until now, and who I’m sure I’ll be sharing more information about in future posts — Betsy Balch. Betsy designs scarves which she produces and sells, and I have one of her beautiful cashmere “bandana” designs (which is frankly awesome with my painted cowgirl boots!).

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Betsy loaned me one of her favorite inspiration books (which I will also be covering in a future post) called The Printed Square which is a picture book of vintage handkerchiefs like this one:

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Now, I don’t know about you, but my mind can’t help but make one of those “SET” combinations I’m so fond of out of all of these things. And then, throw in the Boise river too, and what have we got? We’ve got confluence!

Confluence: the coming together of 2 or more streams, people, or things; their place of junction; assemblage.

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I LOVE this kind of thing! Birds of a feather coming together my peeps. Birds of a feather!

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Second Helpings: Crab-Walker

Every once in a while my art actually gets to serve a purpose beyond just looking good. I do decoratively paint things I use — boxes, spoons, chairs, doors, floors even — but this item has turned out to be useful in a way I didn’t anticipate when I painted it a couple of years ago.

Ladies and Germs, the Crab-Walker…

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Yep. That’s a walker. A pretty cool one actually. It has wheels and brakes, and a cushy seat which hides a removable wire basket for carrying your picnic or art supplies.

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Marilyn Cosho gave it to me on the off chance I might want to paint it for a show we both participated in called “Helpers” which was sponsored by IPUL as the opening exhibit at the CAAC.

Evidently it’s not the sort of thing art collectors collect however, so after the show, and a stint hanging around IPUL, it came back to my house where it provided alternative patio seating for the most adventurous of my guests.

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Now it turns out this unintended Second Helping is really, truly “helpful” and even more serendipitously, “zodiacalogically appropriately” helpful because it now belongs to a Cancer!

So if you see the Crab-Walker and its new owner while you’re out and about in Boise give them a shout out, but don’t distract the walker. Service Second Helpings need to stay focused!

And to its new owner let me just add — Swift Recovery! I hope this makes it easier for you to “Walk-n-Roll” until your broken wing has mended!

Go to Your Studio and Make Stuff

I’m sure you’re familiar with this sentiment, and maybe even with this poster by Fred Babb…

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which pretty much sums up the time that I have spent NOT working on this blog in the past few days, as well my excuse for what will probably amount to very spotty blog posting in the next couple of weeks.

I have a crapton of work to do for my public art piece for Treefort which needs to be done by the first week in March and I am simultaneously selecting, arranging, and hanging the TVAA exhibition “Metamorphosis” opening at the offices of Boise State Public Radio on March 7th. Plus I have a little project called “See Spot Walk” which needs my attention. Just sayin’.

So to inspire you to go to YOUR studio and make stuff in the hope that time will fly by for all of us, here are some photos from the studio of Marilyn Frazier.

We had Art Friday at her home last week and Marilyn let me take some pictures to share with you…

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These are some papers which have been painted and stenciled and which will be used as book covers or on boxes.

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You can always find a sharpened pencil in Marilyn’s studio!

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Each of these books is handmade by Marilyn. She paints the papers, and sews the bindings choosing the beads the way you would decide which necklace best complimented your dress.

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Lots of little boxes, some covered with painted papers.

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Work in progress.

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The view from Marilyn’s studio out to her garden and the chicken and duck run. The very happy chickens’ and ducks’ run. Marilyn is a vegetarian.

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More beautiful books completely handmade by Marilyn.

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Just in case you were wondering what you should make once you get to your studio.

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My plan is to continue dervishing (I just decided to make that the adjective, whirling is so tired) away in MY studio and I will blog visual updates as I’m able.

Meanwhile I’m trying to convince Lula to take over the blog for me — just until I can get through the next few weeks.

Does she look convinced?

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Well, we’ll see you when we see you!

Plans for Treefort Public Art

I finally made it to Whew!

You may remember the tiniest amount of whining and self pity emitting from this blog as I struggled with my first big important project for 2014 — designing a public art piece for the Treefort Music Fest, March 20 – 23. Oh come on, I wasn’t that bad!

My plan is to create giant “papel picado” similar to the banners we string up on our patios to make it festive. All with a nod to tree forts and music.

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I plan to make up to seven of these using 10 ft. square vinyl tarps, which happen to come in an amazing array of colors: blue, green, red, orange, silver, brown, black…

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then string them together just like the papel picado banners they are modeled on, and hang them the length of a building in downtown Boise. Not just any building. My bright eyed friends will recognize this immediately as the back wall of the Record Exhange.

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There are two other terrific artists, Mike Landa and Bobby Gaytan who are designing projects as well. All three of us have gotten approval up to this point — actually we were told our concepts were “wildly positively approved” — and let me tell you, that feels great!

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Now I am waiting for final approval from the building owners to hang my piece at this site. I hope to hear this week, and the minute I do I will be buying a rainbow assortment of vinyl tarps.

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Gotta tell you, I have lived in Boise off and on for 23 years, have never claimed to be anything but a city girl (Why do we camp?), and frankly I’m relieved to finally find a purpose for these tarps that makes perfect sense to me.

Now get ready to listen to me whine about how much work it is to cut out 700 sq. ft. of vinyl.

Just keep those triple shot breve lattes coming!

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Seeing Spots

There are good days, and there are bad days, and today has been one of them.

–Laurence Welk

Today I made myself just go do something. Anything. As long as it involved paint and was cheerful and had the potential to drive back this gloomy inversion which is weighing all of us in Boise down. Down. Dowwwwwnnnn.

And all I saw was spots.

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At least they were cheery spots. Kind of remind me of sprinkles on donuts. No wonder we crave carbs in the winter. We really just want a cheerful little spot of sunshine and instead we head for ….sorry my mind wandered there for a minute.

Gotta run. Hope it’s sunny where you are!

Inspired By: Barbara Bowling

I love it when I can get out of my studio and into another artist’s. Especially if the other artist also has a really cool house and a sweet dog (who is very tolerant of Lula careening around in her space), and the artist makes me lunch, and we spend all afternoon yakking.

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I’ve mentioned Barbara here before. We’ve got that 1 degree of separation thang going on that runs rampant in Boise. I love Boise.

Anyway, Barbara’s studio is top notch. She has a separate space for metal smithing…

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where she makes covetable jewelry like this beautiful brooch…

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Barbara is on a mission to bring back the brooch. (Get them while you can, she may be moving on to tiaras next!)

She also has another room especially for enameling.

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There were several enamel pieces displayed throughout the studio, many of which featured images of beloved canine family members, both past and present.

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This is Lacey, canine family member, present. Such a sweetie.

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(Lacey found Barbara, like Snug and Lula found me — at the Idaho Humane Societythey should call themselves Best Friends R Us.)

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But I digress.

Barbara has a PhD. in Horticulture which means she can tell you’ve been cheatin’ if the leaves on the blackberry bush you painted wouldn’t leave teeth marks if they bit you — how’s that for esoteric botanical humor?

Actually it means many of the pieces she fabricates are botanically correct. Which isn’t nearly as dirty as it sounds. Dang it.

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She also fabricates enamel jewelry using the technique called cloisonne which she explains on her website.

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In fact, Barbara is teaching a sold out class on enameling for Community Education for the City of Boise right now. Another will be available in the Spring (3/31 – 5/19, 6:30PM – 9:30PM Mondays) and you can find out more by calling (208)608-7680.

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Thank you Barbara and Lacey for letting Lula and me spend the afternoon with you. We are inspired!