Sometimes a man's accomplishments are visible to a wide audience, but the man behind them isn't. And the people who work at his favorite coffeehouse or donut shop may know the man but be unfamiliar with his achievements. On First Thursday, both the man and his work will be present when La Vie En Rose hosts local artist John Collias for the release of John Collias: Round About the Boise Valley: An artist's journey through Idaho history.
Written and designed by his grandson, former BW editor Nick Collias, the book is a look through the years of the 92-year-old elder Collias' artistry. It covers his time at Gowen Field as a soldier during WWII, his studies at Chicago's famed American Academy of Art, his ad work, and his illustrious illustrative career at the Idaho Statesman, where, for more than three decades, he drew the paper's "Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen" (accounts differ, but Collias thinks he drew close to 2,000 portraits). It also includes paintings of his family and stories about his studio here in Boise where his grandson spent hundreds of hours with him. John Collias: Round About the Boise Valley is a gorgeously illustrated coffee table book that includes a proclamation written by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and a prologue by longtime Statesman columnist Tim Woodward. It is also a tangible piece of history painted, sketched and drawn by a man who eyes were always taking in his Idaho. 5-9 p.m., FREE. La Vie En Rose Bakery, 928 W. Main St.
Speaking of illustration, a group of some of Boise's most talented artists will pay homage to "dogs playing poker and kitsch" with the "Illustration Showdown" exhibit at Gallery Alexa Rose. See work by Bricolage, Erin Cunningham, Julia Green, Alexa Howell, Kelly Knopp, Ben Minter, John Padlo, Tony Rios, Erin Ruiz, Jason Sievers, April VanDeGrift and Rick Walter. Individually, these artists have contributed greatly to the illustrative landscape of Boise (and beyond); collectively, this show promises to be a royal flush. 5-9 p.m., FREE, Gallery Alexa Rose, 280 N. Eighth St. (in the basement courtyard).
Speaking of Rick Walter, Flying M Coffeehouse is hosting an exhibit of Walter's work through the month of August, which will showcase his inimitable capitalization of color, sense of the surreal and depiction of the different.
Also on First Thursday during the opening reception for Walter's exhibit, the coffee shop will have a one-night-only showing of culturally diverse photos to benefit the Pennies for Peace program, a nonprofit that helps girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan purchase much-needed school supplies. 5-9 p.m., FREE, Flying M Coffeehouse, 500 W. Idaho St.