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February 9, 2005

Gettin' Out • Why kill all the Ginko trees? • Step right up

Gettin' out

After reading about Claude Dallas killing those two men in cold blood, and now that he is back on the streets, never again will I visit Idaho.

--R.D. Anglin, McComb, Mississippi

Editor's Note: So what happens if Mr. Dallas, once released, decides to move to Mississippi?

WHY KILL ALL THE FEMALE GINKGO TREES?

(RE: BW, Green, "Grow a Living Fossil", Feb. 2, 200) I agree that most people would rather plant a male ginko tree than a female tree because of the female's stinky fruit, but do we really want to destroy the female ginkgo trees in the Treasure Valley? I would not write this letter if there were other female ginkgo trees. The message to plant only male trees has been so successful that we are on the verge of having no females. That is what will happen if all the female ginkgo trees are cut down on 8th Street. I have been collecting tree seeds in the Treasure Valley for over 20 years, and I know of only one other female ginkgo tree. It is a small tree that is recovering from a trunk wound.

We should save a few of these fine female specimens on 8th Street for their seeds. Ginkgo seeds have value. The seeds sell wholesale for $5 per pound. The seeds are used for food, medicine and most importantly the propagation of new trees. Chinese medicine uses ginkgo seeds to treat impotence, bedwetting, bladder problems and disorders of the ear. The cooked seeds are a delicacy in Asian countries.

It is relatively easy to start seedlings from the seeds. The DNA of one female tree can contain the genetic information of hundreds of male trees whose pollen can reach it. The cycle of growing trees from seeds from selected local trees will develop ginkgo trees more adapted to life in the Treasure Valley. The best of these trees can be used to produce clones; however, trees grown from seeds are more diverse than cloned trees and will have more of a chance than individual trees to survive pests and diseases.

We have an opportunity to grow and develop our own ginkgoes. We have a professor at Boise State who would like to determine the sex of seeds and seedlings by examining a small sample of their DNA, so we would know the sex of each tree in days rather than decades. Students in Bishop Kelly High School are even germinating ginkgo seeds in their biology classes.

Less drastic solutions than eliminating female trees have also worked, for instance, in Washington D. C. wich contains over 5,000 ginkgo trees. Every spring, just as the female ginkgoes bloom, workers spray the trees with an inhibitor called Sprout-Nip. This reduces the amount of fruit produced and the problem appears resolved. Another solution is to transplant some of the smaller 8th Street female ginkgoes to isolated areas in our parks where they will offend less people.

Thirty years ago these ginkgo trees were planted for all of us, and it took 20 years before they produced seeds. We all now have an opportunity to gather and use their seeds. Now we are deciding their fate for our children and their children because it will take 20 to 30 years to grow more trees for seeds. Please save a few 8th Street female ginkgo trees for the future.

--Pat Donnelly,

Boise

Step right up

I congratulate the artists whose works were selected for inclusion in BAM's Triennial and recently reviewed by Chris Schnoor in Boise Weekly (BW, "Idaho , NY", Jan. 12, 2005).

As with all juried shows, many excellent artists were not selected and again left to their own devices to find venues for their work. It is also sad but gratifying to witness artists forced to participate in reactionary exhibitions such as the proposed "Salon de Refusé".

For those of us who have lived and worked as artists in the Northwest for over 25 years juried biennials were once a regular occurrence. Regional museums and universities such as Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (formerly Cheney Cowles Museum), Yellowstone Art Center, Boise Art Museum and Eastern Oregon University would regularly produce exhibitions such as Northwest Juried Exhibition, Biennial Exhibition for Idaho Artists, Rocky Mountain Biennial and many others. The exhibitions served to examine and acknowledge challenging and provocative work and produce exhibition catalogues that artists used to obtain other opportunities.

It appears that as small to medium museums grew and redefined their mission they relegate regional surveys to "triennial" or in some cases eliminated the exhibitions altogether. As the struggle for operating funds becomes more competitive and the need for corporate sponsorship ("blockbuster" exhibitions) becomes absolute, I do not see the trend changing in the near future. No doubt another factor is the reorganization of the National Endowment for the Arts in the early 1990s and it;s subsequent emphasis on "safe" programming and the elimination of grants for individual artists.

Kudos to the ICA Fellowship Exhibition, BAM and the Andy Warhol Foundation for continuing to support and produce state and regional surveys of artists. I would call on other regional museums and universities to step up to the plate.

--Richard A. Young, Boise

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