A new installation of public art hangs in the pedestrian walkway from the Boise Airport's parking garage to the second floor of the terminal. It's called "Sky Bridge" and it's made up of 120 pieces of translucent blue acrylic cut in the shape of wavy, abstract clouds that stretch along the walkway—suspended by thin wires along the rafters.
On the gray morning of Feb. 5, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter stood underneath it in a dedication ceremony, glad to see yet another piece of public art decorate his city.
"We work really hard on art at the city, and we're really proud of what's gone on," the mayor said. "I'm told that the most public art at any one facility in the state of Idaho is in the Boise Airport."
The installation of the mobile was part of the airport's parking garage expansion, which added 750 parking spaces and cost some $13 million. The artwork itself cost $55,000.
"We love the fact that art gives a sense of place, and in keeping with all the efforts that have gone on to bring a local flavor to the airport," Bieter said, referring to the recent addition of Big City Coffee, Parrilla Grill, 13th Street Pub and Grill, Bardenay, the Idaho Statesman and KRVB 49.9 The River, "I just saw Parrilla go in there and it looks great. It doesn't look like every other generic space. It really gives you a sense that you're in Boise and it's so localized. I don't know that anything does a better job of that than art."
Except that Seth Palmiter, the artist who created Boise's newest public artwork, isn't local. He's from the northeast.
"I probably don't need to remind anyone here that you are living in a special place," he told the small crowd at the dedication. "I'm quite smitten by my two week-long trips that I've taken out here. My realization in being here is that this isn't just Anywhere U.S.A. This is a special place."
Palmiter was selected from 32 artists who submitted ideas for the national talent call. Airport officials said some of those who submitted were local, but it's not uncommon to select outside artists for public art at BOI. About half of the art decorating the airport is local, while the other half is outsourced.
Artist Seth Palmiter (left) speaks of his artwork on Thursday morning, alongside Mayor Dave Bieter.
And that's how Palmiter makes his living—creating public art for hospitals, universities, even roundabouts all over the country. His work lives in places like Aurora, Colo.; Washington D.C.; and Juno, Alaska.
"My intent was for this [artwork] to be experienced in a kind of brisk clip when you're walking from one end to catch a flight," Palmiter said during the dedication. "These days, we're texting and hardly paying attention, but my intent was to be able to experience art as you're glancing at the floor, and glance back up, it gives another chance to see the art change shape from one end of the walk to the next."
Palmiter told Boise Weekly
that the biggest challenge of the project was working in the space of a hallway, rather than a tall atrium. He needed to keep it close to the ceiling but still noticeable to those walking by.
"I had to get it out of the way, so it's not just an attractive nuisance," he said.
At the end of the dedication ceremony, the mayor applauded the newest addition to Boise's public art scene once again.
"We hope it continues," he said, "and to do even more."
A view of "Sky Bridge" when walking from the terminal to the parking garage.