Almost exactly two years ago, in the July 28, 2010, edition of Boise Weekly, then-staff writer Tara Morgan published a piece called "State of the Art at Boise Art Museum." It was a piece several thousand words long that took a critical look at the role of Boise Art Museum in the community in the wake of a year in which submissions to the museum's triennial exhibit fell from 249 applicants to 152.
The examination took place after some rather public grumblings among local artists about the museum and on the heels of exhibits about quilts and the Audubon Society. The museum was taking knocks for catering too heavily to one segment of its demographic and some pointed fingers at the aging and conservative benefactors and board members.
At the time, some readers thought Morgan's sources were too harsh on the museum, others quietly agreed with the museum's detractors, praising BW for delving into a touchy subject.
Two years later, I remembered Morgan's story as, in the course of a day, the following events unfolded: a couple of friends in their early 30s raved about their recent night out at Boise Art Museum (the second great night they'd had at museum events in as many months), I read a piece in The New Yorker called "Modern Man" about the Tate Gallery's Nicholas Serota (which chronicled his sometimes controversial 24 years as director of London's infamous gallery), and this week's feature, "Sound Garden" by Christopher Schnoor, hit my desk, which takes apart BAM's current exhibit, Meet Me at the Center of the Earth from sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave.
I encourage you to watch the video that accompanies this week's feature to get a sense for how alive the museum seems to be with this particular exhibit. (It's a long way from the days of the Audubon Society show.) In addition, at BAM's website, the museum promises "soundsuit sightings" randomly throughout the summer in the city--bringing art out of the museum and into the world.
If the role of BAM in Boise is to get the community excited about art, to draw them in and engage them, bringing Cave's show has certainly helped achieve that end.