Sunday, March 22, 2015

Video: Meet the Bob Ross of Etch-A-Sketch

Posted By on Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 10:50 AM

Making great art takes time, patience and dedication. That's why the late, great Bob Ross was a master. For years, the fuzzy-haired landscape guru gave TV viewers the tools of the landscape-painting trade and made it look easy enough for almost anyone to try. 

We don't know how many years Willie Witte, a former Idahoan now artist/videographer living in California, spent honing his Etch-A-Sketch skills, but on his YouTube channel, happy.little.etch, he reminds us of the grueling toil that comes with artistic mastery.

In this video, Witte (aka M.C. Etcher) uses the iconic magnet-powered drafting toy to mimic the final product of the Painting with Bob Ross Season 2, Episode 3, "Mountain Retreat."

For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of the Etch-A-Sketch, it's easy enough to turn the knobs and draft in straight lines, but rendering curves and diagonals requires uncommon skill. 

For Witte, whose video has been sped up to show "Mountain Retreat" progress from blank screen to pastoral in fewer than three minutes, it's a breeze—taking only occasional breaks to stretch his hands before getting back to "goin' hard on the knobs." 

Check out more of his work on Instagram and Ink361.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Video: Who's in Line at the Morrison Center for Tickets to 'The Book of Mormon'

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 4:03 PM

UPDATE: The allotted tickets for the Boise run of The Book of Mormon sold out March 20 in less than two hours. Officials at The Morrison Center more tickets may go on sale closer to the July performances. Additionally, theater officials said they may hold a ticket lottery two hours before each show.

The Book of Mormon is one of the hottest and most controversial Broadway musicals in years. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Book of Mormon has won nine Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. The original Broadway cast recording reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts, making it the highest-charting album of its kind in more than 40 years.

There have been two national productions of The Book of Mormon, one of which rolls through Boise for six performances Tuesday, July 21-Sunday, July 26. Tickets for the show went on sale the morning of March 20, and Boise Weekly took to the streets—or, rather, the ticket line in the Morrison Center—to see who was in line and why. 

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Public Art Decorates Boise Airport Pedestrian Bridge

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 at 12:09 PM

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. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • 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." 

  • Jessica Murri
  • Jessica Murri
A view of "Sky Bridge" when walking from the terminal to the parking garage. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • A view of "Sky Bridge" when walking from the terminal to the parking garage.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

BAM Reveals Liu Bolin, 'The Invisible Man' in Boise

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2015 at 10:26 AM

  • Liu Bolin: "Hiding in the City"
The hottest ticket in Boise on Friday night didn't guarantee entry into a nightclub featuring a platinum-selling recording artist or a seat at a movie theater screening an Oscar-nominee. Instead, it promised the hundreds of people who clutched it one an opportunity to witness a sold-out, one-and-done appearance by "The Invisible Man.”

International sensation Liu Bolin stood on a modest platform to allow the packed-to-capacity audience in the Boise Art Museum's sculpture hall to catch a glimpse of the man who deliberately disappears into iconic images. Bolin visited Boise as part of the much-anticipated Hiding in the City exhibition, which will be in plain view at BAM through Sunday, May 24.

“Thank you, everybody,” said Bolin, uttering the only sentence he would speak in English that evening. Bolin, a native of Shandong province, China, spoke with the aid of interpreter Kent Chao, a recent retiree of Hewlett-Packard.

“People know about my photos best, but my background is in sculpture," Bolin said.

That was the first of many surprises of the evening. As it turns out, Bolin’s sculptures, primarily of the human-form, are spectacular and sculpting remains a passion—but most people are familiar with his photographs, which also include a human form: Bolin. The artist camouflages himself into recognizable background images, which began as a form of protest after he watched his village destroyed by a wrecking ball.

“It came out of personal anger—not just myself but my fellow countrymen,” Bolin said. As he spoke, one of his first works appeared on a screen behind him, showing an historic building turned to rubble, with Bolin blending into the destruction. The image was the first of many to inspire “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience.

For the next 45 minutes, attendees watched photos of Bolin disappearing—into the streets of Venice, Italy; a dried-out riverbed in China; a huge stack of lumber; and even a wall of thousands of cellphones—flash on the screen.

As thrilled as Bolin's audience was to shake his hand and thank him for flying from Beijing to Boise for Friday night's event, they were just as anxious to be among the first to see Liu Bolin: Hiding in the City at BAM, which is now open to the general public.

Right before saying goodbye, Bolin held up his smartphone and snapped a panoramic photo of the hundreds of attendees.

“Be careful,” interpreter Chao said. “This may appear in his next project.”

And just like that, Bolin disappeared.
  • Liu Bolin: "Hiding in the City"

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Friday, January 23, 2015

BAM Calls on Local Artists to Go Incognito

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 2:15 PM

  • Liu Bolin/Boise Art Museum
Chinese artist Liu Bolin has achieved fame the world over for disappearing into his art. His exhibition, Liu Bolin: Hiding in the City, is coming to Boise Art Museum opens Jan. 31. The artist himself will appear at the art museum on Jan. 30.

His paintings and performance art feature Bolin painting himself in picture-perfect camouflage, where he melds seamlessly into ordinary settings—and makes profound statements about the individual's role in society. 

In conjunction with Bolin's exhibit, BAM is calling on Treasure Valley designers to follow in his footsteps by selecting a location and use illusionistic or trope l'oeil effects to create a garment that, like Bolin, hides in plain sight. The first 30 entrants will compete at BAM's Art of Fashion Show: Incognito on Saturday, April 25.

Garments must be sewn and wearable on a runway. Teams may have as many as three participants, including the model, who must be 18 or older. Final work must be submitted to BAM by Monday, April 20.

To enter, complete the contest entry form online and submit the $35 entry fee to BAM or call BAM Education at 208-345-8330, Ext. 21. For more information, check out the contest's website.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MAD Art Auction at Ming Studios Tonight (Dec. 16)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 4:03 PM

No, it's not an auction of angry or unbalanced work, nor is it one of illustrations by Sergio Aragones, Al Jaffee or Don Martin.

MAD stands for Make A Difference, a global nonprofit that works to support quality education support for vulnerable youth in Tanzania, Africa and Mysore, India. Tonight at Ming Studios, MAD founder and chairwoman Theresa Grant and local art therapist Lisa Williams will speak about about MAD and its mission and how children can benefit from art.

Artwork and poetry by children from MAD's orphanage in Tanzania will be on exhibit and in a silent auction that opens at 6:30 p.m. Grant and Williams speak at 7 p.m., and the auction closes at 8 p.m.

Doors open at 6 p.m., admission is free, and light snacks and beverages will be served. 
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bloch Cancer Survivor Monument in Julia Davis Park Sends Message of Hope

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Inside a tent in front of the new Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza, attendees of the unveiling rubbed their hands and nursed steaming cups of coffee. At a chilly 25 degrees outside, with icy rain pattering against the tent's plastic walls, there was little hope that the clouds might break to let a little sunshine illuminate the towering kite sculptures, broad pathways and stone markers of the plaza.

However, "hope" was the word of the morning, and a little inclement weather couldn't hinder the unveiling ceremony conducted by Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, and cancer survivor and R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation co-founder Annette Bloch on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the eastern end of Julia Davis Park.

"Cancer is a word, not a sentence," Bloch said to the approximately 75 attendees to the unveiling. "There is a life after a diagnosis of cancer."

The plaza consists of a pathway lined with stone markers featuring inspirational messages, a kinetic wind sculpture by Mark Baltes and a mosaic work in the center by local artist Anna Webb.

Boise's is the 25th Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza in the United States and Canada, and it is the first in the Northwest. Funding for the plaza was provided by a $1 million grant from the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation—$900,000 for the plaza itself and an additional $100,000 endowment to maintain the park over time.

Bieter told the crowd that cancer has, in some way, touched the life of nearly everyone, and that the new installation sends a message of hope to those fighting the disease. He was also impressed with the new plaza.

"It turned out nicer than any of us imagined," Bieter said.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

City of Boise Crowdsources Five-Year Cultural Plan

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Plates of cookies, pita chips and carrot sticks lined the conference room tables in the River conference room at Boise City Hall—but few of the dozen attendees at a City Department of Arts and History Boise Cultural Planning Process meeting asked why the tables, arranged in a U shape, were also strewn with Post-it notes.

The point of this meeting was to find out what both everyday citizens and people with vested interests believe is working, isn't working and might be missing from the city's expanding arts, cultural and historical scene.

"What's authentic to us? Who do we want to become?" asked Public Arts Manager Karen Bubb.

Bubb posed five questions:
What is culture?
What works well in Boise?
Where do you find culture in Boise?
What doesn't work well in Boise?
What would you like to see regarding culture in the future?

She gave everyone four minutes per question to write their answers on the Post-it notes, then opened the floor for discussion.

Attendees said high-performing arts and culture programs like The Cabin, Treefort Music Fest and the city's growing dance community are good fits for the City of Trees but could continue to benefit from public support. Transportation—particularly parking availability and the absence of a citywide network of bike lanes—the Grove plaza, the mall and a "brewpub overload" were seen as demerits. Some cultural features might have been overlooked were it not for a few stray observations; one attendee, Byron Folwell, said he enjoyed Boise's occasional parades.

"They shouldn't work anymore, but they do," he said.

As for improving Boise's cultural infrastructure, expanding transportation access, housing the homeless and building public "maker spaces" were a few of the things people said they'd like to see more of.

The Post-its were collected, and the Department of Arts and History will use that information to determine where and how it will distribute department resources through 2020.

Those who are unable to attend cultural planning meetings are encouraged to provide input through an Arts and History survey.

This was the second of three cultural planning meetings the Department of Arts and History is holding. Bubb said she has heard input from around 100 people but so far, not many have taken the online survey. The third and final Boise Cultural Planning Process meeting is on Monday, Nov. 17, 4:30-6 p.m., in the River Room at Boise City Hall. If you'd like to attend, RSVP to Karen Bubb at
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