Best Feel-Good Concrete Creation
Round of applause, please. Opened last spring as an epicenter for arts-based organizations and individuals needing a place to call home, the Muse Building is a conglomeration of studios for yoga, dance and movement, a post-production facility for film editing, the Muse Room (which is a meeting room equipped with all the bells and whistles a high-tech conference room needs) and suites available for lease by the arts-minded.
1317 Jefferson St.
Best Office Environment (besides the swanky BW digs)
Boise Art Museum
Being surrounded by great art would surely make a person feel inspired. The folks who work at Boise Art Museum must be practically bursting with inspiration. Of course, there's work to be done even in the coolest of office spaces, and the area behind the scenes at BAM seems to foster creativity as well as a strong work ethic. It's all open (no felt-covered cubicle walls there), allowing a free exchange of ideas among the creative people who curate and catalog the truly fine art they bring to Boise. No cubicles? Creative people? Hmmm ... sounds like another place that starts with a B.
670 Julia Davis Dr., 208-345-8330
Part pandemonium, part anime, gaming and role-playing fun, this annual event is the pinnacle of entertainment as far as every sci-fi fan in the state is concerned. About the only thing cooler would actually be getting beamed up by Scotty.
Best Here Come Da Judge
Amy Pence-Brown at Boise Art Museum
Every three years the Boise Art Museum's Idaho Triennial showcases some of the best art by some of the best artists living and working in Idaho. Submissions come in by the hundreds, and jurying is usually done—from slides—by a panel of judges who are often not Idahoans themselves.
For the 2007 Triennial, Amy Pence-Brown, assistant curator at Boise Art Museum, decided to do things a bit differently. She winnowed the submissions from artists all across Idaho down to 71 artists. And then, over the course of six weeks, she visited each and every one of them in their studios, seeing them and their work in person. After her arduous trip, she had an even more difficult task at hand: choosing the work that would become the exhibit.
In the end, she chose 75 exuberant pieces by 25 artists whose work includes paintings, sculpture and installations. It's an amazing array of not only what Idaho artists are capable of, but of one woman's artistic vision.
670 Julia Davis Dr., 208-345-8330
Best Surprise Jam Fest
EOTO at Terrapin Station
When we heard EOTO—which is two members of the jam band String Cheese Incident—was coming to town, we thought, "Buh. Another jam band." We've heard our fair share of 17-minute guitar solos. But music bigots we're not, and we figured we'd go check it out. And, man, are we glad we did. EOTO's music definitely has a jam vibe, but these guys also have a very cool kind of techno thing going on. The show started late and four or five minutes into the first song, we were checking our watches, but not out of impatience. No, we were checking our timepieces and saying to ourselves, "If I stay just one more hour, I'll still get five hours of sleep. I can get by on that."
Best Band Spam
Niccole Bayley's gig submissions
We couldn't get all the information we do if it weren't for people submitting their event information. But one day, we had to sit back and watch while our firstname.lastname@example.org inbox filled up with submissions from Niccole Bayley. In one day, between 4:32 and 5:51 p.m., Bayley—half of the duo of Niccole Bayley and Mo Kelly—sent us 21 e-mail messages listing shows around the valley. While we glibly started making bets on how many minutes it would be before the next e-mail came in, we were totally impressed with the number of shows these women had booked.
Best Place to Smoke a Cigar
Woman of Steel Gallery
Yes, it's a gallery, but it's a gallery with attitude. Sure, there's art, but it's art created by a woman wielding a blow torch behind a window that serves as the backdrop to a bar. Just upstairs (in the portion of the Chinese-restaurant-turned-modern-art gallery that looks like an old English pub) is one of the few remaining cigar clubs in the area.
It's small, it's cozy, but it's also perfectly atmospheric. Why not grab a stogie, kick back and light up?
Besides, the beautiful thing about this gallery/bar/cigar club is that it's just odd enough to make perfect sense in its Garden City home.
3640 Chinden Blvd., 208-331-5632
Best Outdoor Art/Craft Show
Art in the Park
OK, so some to-be-unnamed people in the BW office have a bit of an attitude about this event, but please, what can possibly be wrong with an event that brings people of all ages and backgrounds together for an afternoon in the park spent celebrating art?
This is one of the longest-running events in Boise, and we have to say it's nice to have something that has stayed so true to its roots for so long. When everything else in town is changing, it's nice to have something to depend on. Besides, we're talking row after row of glittering, colorful things perfect for those of us with a jewelry obsession. So be proud, raise your art-fair flag high and cry, "I love shiny objects!"
Best Band We Hired
Throughout each year, we have several BW parties at which we hire local musicians to perform. But with local band IQEQ, we took it a step further. When our A&E editor interviewed the band for a Noise feature, she discovered four bright, creative guys who she was pretty sure could express their intelligence in other ways; she was right. In the past few months, she's put Dan, Kyle, Nate and Tom to work, having them pen food and CD reviews. The one problem with the whole thing: She's been congratulating herself on her insight for months.
Best Split Personality
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
There's Shakespeare in the title, but we couldn't help but notice the majority of the plays in this year's season were not written by the bard. We understand the need to keep the festival fresh and lively, not to mention the need to take advantage of the talents of the cast and crew.
But, come on, if you're going to use the name of the most-well-known playwright in history in the name of your company, don't you think you should at least have the majority of your plays by, well, said famous playwright? If it were the Stoppard Festival or the Mamet Festival, we'd expect to see a little Inspector Hound or even some Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Just an idea.
5657 Warm Springs Ave., 208-336-9221
Best Endangered Museum
Idaho Black History Museum
Back in June, the Idaho Black History Museum announced that budget shortfalls were forcing it to severely cut back staff and operational hours. So, instead of being a full-time community asset, the museum is now only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum is the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, so if it doesn't find some financial backing, the region will lose a valuable piece of its culture.
Try as we might, we can't find anything funny about a cultural museum being on the bubble.
805 Julia Davis Dr., 208-433-0017
Best Art House that Houses Art
J Crist Gallery
Just after Best of Boise hit the stands last year, news filtered down that Dwaine Carver of Trout Architects won an award from the Idaho chapter of the American Institute of Architects for his design of the gallery on 17th Street. With high walls and a courtyard entrance, visitors are immediately ushered into a world within a world, even before stepping foot in the gallery.
Inside, Carver's use of plywood and concrete provide an unassuming environment that's aesthetically harmonious with the space's function as a house for art.
223 S. 17th St., 208-336-2671
Best Tuxedoed Band
Frim Fram Four
Sometimes there's nothing better than—beer in one hand, cigarette in the other—rocking out to an eardrum-thumping, loud rock band.
But sometimes, it's nice to just have some hip music as the background for a fancy cocktail and good conversation.
Wherever the Frim Fram Four may roam, jazz is king. Since its inception in 2001, the line-up has changed ever so slightly with John Nemeth flying off to make a kick-ass blues career for himself and Tom Moore heading off into the sunset, but Thursday nights at Pengilly's are the rocking good times they always have been (in fact, it seems even harder to get a seat these days than it used to be).
Even without their gussied-up duds—white tuxedo jackets and black bow ties—FFF is a classy act.
Best Art Show Opening
Eleven11 at VAC
Best of Boise 2006 came out before Visual Arts Collective's Eleven11 (11 artists exhibited on Nov. 11) show, but we thought it was so cool, we just had to put it in our 2007 Best of Boise issue.
Viewers were treated to acts of daring by trapeze artist Fabienne Lab, music by Neut and the eye candy created by the 11 local artists—chosen by gallery co-owner (and artist himself), Sam Stimpert—Vy Boutdy, EPIK, paste eater, Gahlen Fridley, Bobby Gaytan, Jennie Myers, Erin Ruiz, Ben Wilson, Jeremy Webster, DMIZE and one anonymous artist. It was overwhelming in all the right ways.
There's little doubt that VAC's move to the Live, Work, Create District in Garden City will do anything but increase the number and quality of shows at the gallery.
3638 Osage St., 208-424-8297
Best Local Red Carpet Event
Matt Damon at the Egyptian for the premiere of the Bourne Ultimatum
Producer Frank Marshall has an affinity for Boise and for Boise Contemporary Theater. For each of the films in the Bourne franchise, he and lead actor (and major hottie) Matt Damon have premiered the film right here in town at the Egyptian Theatre. Knowing there was no way we wouldn't be there—but desirous of an alternative to the usual coverage an event of this nature would garner—we sent crack freelancer Rachel Abrahamson to hang out on the red carpet with the rest of the press pack, knowing darn good and well she'd find a way to make her take on the events different. She did a fabulous job on her reporting, but she did us even one better. She got her pretty face up front and center in the photos and footage of several of the other media outlets. While a quote, interview and especially a photo in that other paper in town might otherwise lead to dismissal from our hallowed halls, we applauded this unplanned yet celebratory event. Oh, and having direct quotes from Damon and his mug in BW wasn't half bad either.
700 W. Main St., 208-345-0454
Some local bands gripe about Alive After Five lineup
We here at BW love local music. We love everything about it. But it's like clockwork: As the Downtown Boise Association gets better at scoring great out-of-town acts to play at the Alive After Five concert series, we hear from disgruntled local musicians that the city has lost touch with its local tunesters. And we might feel your pain more if we didn't love to hear some good out-of-town music once in a while. And we might be bothered more if we didn't know we can listen to local greats at venues all over town, all the time. And if we get a chance to see The Gourds—for free—outside on a Wednesday night we're going to take it. Think about it this way: We'd be just as proud of one of our local groups playing a gig in say, downtown Portland, and would hope that Portlanders would appreciate them the way we do.
Best Show About Pre-Sushi
Koi and goldfish show at Boise Depot
"That fish is gorgeous," is something you might hear at this event. The Idaho Water Garden and Koi Society hosts this annual soiree and brings in people from different parts of the country to judge. It's a function that attracts all types to the Boise Depot to enjoy the large tanks full of colorful fish. Koi and goldfish quickly become centerpieces for garden decor. Hourly raffles are held to win a fish, providing on-site vendors new targets to convert to koi people. Resistance to joining the hobby is futile if your child is the lucky winner of a fish because you'll need somewhere to keep it. From the carp family to part of the clan, these aquatic pets can live to be the ripe age of 40 to 60 years of age. Don't smack talk the koi; they can hear three times better than the average fish, as well as taste, smell and blush when they are stressed.
Best Place to Get a Beer and Catch a Movie
The odds are against them, but we love that the Flicks keeps on keepin' on. Boise's best movie theater still offers quality beer or a glass of good wine to go with your movie, despite the best efforts of the Idaho State Police. Yes, they're legal now, but they had to go to the Legislature to get there. So sip your chardonnay in peace, enjoy your indie flick, and thank the road warriors at the Flicks for sticking it out when The Man started wagging his finger at them.
646 Fulton St., 208-342-4222
Best New Digs
We're all for seeing the city stretch its artsy arms a little bit, and push art lovers and patrons beyond the Eighth Street core. So we're excited for Stephanie Wilde's new version of Stewart Gallery on Jefferson Street, next to Lock, Stock and Barrel. The space promises to be inviting and exciting, with lots of room for exhibitions. But we're just as jazzed about Wilde's new project, Fine Line Press, an art press that she's developing with The Cabin to create limited-edition publications on new art. It's the kind of vibrancy that we like to see in Boise's art scene.
1110 W. Jefferson St., 208-433-0593
Best One-Woman Show
Lauren Weedman in Bust at Boise Contemporary Theater
The concept of a one-person show seems a bit conceited, especially when it's based on the exploits or adventures of someone not quite so well-known. Lauren Weedman's Bust totally blows that concept out of the water. Funnywoman Weedman brought the story of her time volunteering at a women's prison in L.A. to the BCT stage earlier this year. For almost an hour-and-a half, audience members were totally engrossed in this woman's portrayal of people who had such an effect on her life.
Best Place to Go On A Date
This Hyde Park restaurant has just what you need to take impress significant other (or someone you hope might become that): nicey-nice interiors, soundproofed floors (keeps the need to shout at one another at a minimum, unless that's your thing) and a menu that's low on the messy items. When was the last time your successful date was at, say, a pizza joint? Mexican food? Fast food? (We can't help you there.) No, if you're looking for a place that won't kill your budget but might make it seem like you're a high roller, cruise up 13th Street to the latest Erik McLaughlin creation. We recommend sitting inside and ordering a couple of their martinis to start. You'll be smarter and better-looking in minutes.
1520 N. 13th St., 208-331-9855
Best Mea Culpa
BW hangs its head in shame, hides its tail between its legs and says one big fat "We're sorry" to Josh Ritter
D'oh! One more time ... d'oh! In our last Best of Boise issue, one of our own struck out alone and personally insulted a musician we all really, really like. It wasn't very nice. (And the really stupid thing is that the writer of that little blurb—who poked fun at himself in the same blurb for the same thing—admits to totally digging the Idaho singer/songwriter.) Because it would be adding insult to injury to rehash it all here, suffice it to say that we owe Josh Ritter a big fat, "We're sorry." It was a bad joke. Maybe he'll forgive us if we spill the beans and tell him that at least two BW staffers totally have a musician crush on him?
Best High Hopes
Boise Community Radio
We're still waaaaaiiiting. The radio station that coulda, shoulda, woulda is still in that same limbo. Boise Community Radio continues to operate on the Internet, at RadioBoise.org, but there was hope this fall for an actual frequency opening from the FCC. The hope remains. The frequency opening might not. How much longer can these guys hang on to the dream? Just what is the frequency, Kenneth?
Best Cultural Phenomenon
Locally Grown Film Festivals
If we were to just throw everything great about living in Boise into one blender, mix it up, let it sit and see what surfaced as the cream at the top, we'd find a handful of local film festivals bubbling up. True West Cinema Festival, which completed its fourth year in August, has yet to disappoint. The Idaho International Film Festival and Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival, both of which wrapped as we were hitting the presses with this here Best of Boise issue, delivered a grand total of 60 films in six days over two weekends. Much, much further north, the Lakedance International Film Festival spanned a whole week in Sandpoint and yet again, the SpudFest Film Festival hit screens in Driggs.
Best Wearable Art
Tour de Fat
Maybe they're prepping for Burning Man. Perhaps it's the knowledge that beer will be plentiful. Whatever the inspiration, the annual Tour de Fat, presented by the brewmeisters at Fat Tire Brewing Company, is nothing short of a parade of whacked-out duds. We liked the Tigger outfit (what there was of it) and the man-kilt, and the dude in the dress had a certain hirsute charm. Whatever it is about riding goofy bikes and drinking a lot of beer in the sunshine that inspires this sort of parade, OK, then, bring it on. BW will be there as long as we can.
Best Buzz Kill
We're over the cool factor. We're done with the national news exposure we get from bursting into flames each summer. For boaters coming back from Banks and getting stuck during the Chief Parrish fire, it turned what's supposed to be a casual drive home from the river into a four-hour sufferfest in an overheated car and a smoky haze. For anyone living or trying to vacation in Ketchum up to and before the Labor Day weekend, it turned one of the best times of the year into a grim exercise in smoke tolerance or, for those who were forced to evacuate, something scarier. Or for the folks in Yellow Pine, used to hot, dry summers, it became a chilling confrontation with law enforcement officers who tried, before they rediscovered their compassion, to enforce a mandatory evacuation order. Enough, we say. Bring on fall.
Best Ubiquitous Human Cultural Phenomenon
Everywhere there's film in Boise, there's Heather Rae. From the classroom at Boise State to roles in local films to the goings on at The Muse Building, Rae is a sort of local film scene epicenter. In addition to augmenting her body of film work from her home base in Boise, Rae treks annually to Sundance Film Festival and reports back with the goings-on in film beyond the borders of the Gem State. Her most recent project, the Muse Building, opened in April as a place "where art meets commerce."
Best Abdominal Workout
If you're like so many Americans, you want to get in better shape but don't have the time to go to the gym. Between work, family and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life, who has time to do much of anything? But we here at BW are true believers in the advantages of multi-tasking, so we say, why not combine a workout with another activity. Sure, some people say they "enjoy" running or even "like" 100-mile bike rides. But we think these people are a little daft. Instead, try giving yourself an ab-busting workout to beat all others while sitting in a smoky club nursing a drink. All it takes is a talented comedian or two to have you bent over double, laughing so hard you're no longer able to make intelligible noises, just squeaks and grunts. There's no need to feel self-conscious about guffawing, chortling, snickering or giggling either—everyone else is doing it, too! Don't worry about that dull ache, that just means it's working.
405 S. 8th St., 208-331-2663
Best Jury's Still Out
Knitting Factory's Bravo BuyOut
We agree with our readers that the Big Easy is a terrific place to see concerts. Some big names have graced the Big Easy stage—Elvis Costello, The Strokes, Rob Zombie, Built to Spill, Billy Bob Thornton, Steven Segal, George Clinton, Hank Williams III and everything in between—and we see no reason that will change now that the Knitting Factory owns a big chunk of Bravo. One thing the Knitting Factory has to offer is its name. Well-known on both coasts, KF has enough pull and buying power to bring famous folks to Boise, and we think that's great. What they don't have is an investment in our local community. As Boise grows, we're happy to see outside influences coming in, we just want to know they will care about our town as much as we do.
416 S. 9th St., 208-367-1212