Dee Fery is one of the people you should thank if you appreciate arts venues such as the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the Boise Art Museum. Fery and her husband, John, are responsible for donating the land on which ISF is located, and they also developed the William Shakespeare Park at the same location. Fery is also responsible for the Boise Art Museum's Collector's Forum, the Learning Lab at the Boise Public Library, the lobby remodel for the downtown YMCA and the Y's new Horse Thief Reservoir Camp for kids.
Fery has been honored a number of times for her philanthropic work and her unwavering support of the arts, and was most recently awarded the 2006 Distinguished Public Service Award by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies for her work on the board of Idaho Commission on the Arts.
BW: First, do you have a special place in your home where you keep your awards, and second, do you still get nervous when accepting them?
Mainly, we keep them in our Boise home, as well as our Sun Valley home, and they're usually in the den or library. As far as being nervous about accepting an award, not at all. I think if someone has gone to the time and effort to select you for the award, it's something that you need to enjoy and have fun with.
How do you create an arts atmosphere in a place like Idaho, that isn't as well-known as a place of artistic culture?
Number one, I think you get involved. You not only get involved but you're enthusiastic about trying to make a difference, and then you encourage other people to join the cause in making a difference, too. I think that enthusiasm can often snowball into something quite special. I feel that the state of Idaho and Boise have become successful and are certainly helping the Department of Commerce and Tourism attract people to the area by the national art conferences we're putting forth. We showcased our state beautifully. It impressed so many people throughout the nation. When they came to Boise, they were surprised to find such an enrichment of culture.
What are your plans now?
My Idaho Commission on the Arts term ends in June of 2007, and after 12 years of service, I think it's time I move off and let someone else with fresh ideas have the opportunity to try and make a difference in the community. But I'm a project person. I always love a project. I think that having something you can work on is important. And sometimes I can find a project where I can be a mentor to younger people in the community and that can be rewarding.
It's an interesting coincidence your husband's name is John Fery, also the name of a famous painter. Do you happen to have any of Fery's paintings?
Yes, we only had two or three in our homes many years ago when we were a young couple, and since that time, we have acquired many of them and have put the John Fery paintings on exhibition many times. The last one was called Mountain Majesty and went to the BAM and the Charlie Russell Museum in Jackson Hole.
You're currently out-of-state and missed the Idaho elections. Any thoughts on the outcome, and did you vote absentee ballot?
Absolutely, absentee ballot in the middle of October. I was basically pleased for the Idaho elections.
What's something you miss about Boise that you're looking forward to returning home for?
I miss my family. We have three sons and three wonderful daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. They're what I miss the most.
In your opinion, which is more fun: being a parent or grandparent?
Oh, grandparent (laughs). All the pressure's off. You've done the very best you can with your children, and then when your grandchildren come along, you can just love them and enjoy them and don't have to worry about all the issues that young people have to face these days. It's kind of a relief.