Downtown in the city of Eagle, the last Thursday of the month is a perfect day to find a little bit of everything, including art, wine, live music and plenty of talent. From 5 to 9 p.m., more than 15 businesses throw open their doors and welcome passersby to stop a moment and admire the art and fare that Eagle has to offer.
Beth Olson and Karen Niederhut started the Last Thursday Art Walk three years ago and since that time, the number of merchants who participate has doubled. Butler told BW that Eagle's growth and the variety of businesses flourishing in the suburb has drawn families from Boise and beyond.
On a typical Last Thursday, besides the wide variety of art on display, visitors can enjoy food vendors at Heritage Park, listen to live music at the park's gazebo and peruse an assortment of retail stores and restaurants that stay open late to take advantage of the crowds. Many businesses feature different artists each month, ensuring that the lineup stays fresh and entertaining. At the upcoming May 25 Last Thursday Art Walk, Magnifique shows photography by Eric Jacky. Rembrandt's Coffeehouse displays pastels by artists Susan Glendenning and Rena Vandewater, and visitors can reflect on the experience at Second Avenue, where Lynn Patten designs custom mirrors. For the literary-minded, Idaho author Amy Pike will sign her latest book at Gayle's Loft of Books at 7 p.m. in Jackson Square.
Last Thursday also offers the unique opportunities for visitors to learn something new. Gold Medallion Insurance offers fly-tying demonstrations, Landing Art Institute gives sculpture demonstrations, there will be fresh flower arranging demonstrations at Hope Blooms in the Plaza and watercolor instruction offered by Rick Kenny at the Artisan Gallery.
Jaime Harnagel, owner of eclectic retail gift shop the Black Pearl, gave BW a merchant's perspective of the Art Walk. "Fabulous!" she exclaimed. "I wish I could walk around and see what the other stores are doing." Harnagel sponsors many local artists, including Joey Petersen, who plans to give a glass blowing demonstration at the May 25 Last Thursday, giving visitors an inside glimpse of the process behind her stunning creations. Visitors can also view the chandelier that hangs in the Black Pearl to observe Petersen's glass blowing skill.
The City of Eagle Arts Commission, which was formed six years ago by the Eagle City Council, coordinates the monthly Last Thursday event. The four commissioners are chairperson Linda Goldman, Crane Johnson, Bill Stephan and founding commissioner Linda Butler, who acts as manager for the Last Thursday Art Walk.
The Eagle Arts Commission takes a collaborative attitude toward the participants in Last Thursday, communicating with the merchants before and after the event to see what they need and how well the most recent event went for them. Through this contact, Burton feels that the commission shows the business owners and managers how much they are valued and are integral to Last Thursday's success.
Barbara Burton of the City of Eagle Arts Commission told BW that she begins work on the next Last Thursday as soon as the previous one has ended. Her enthusiasm for the event is infectious. She happily boasts that six more merchants have joined the art walk between April and May, and she expects more merchants to hop on board for the June and August Last Thursday events, when live music will be featured at the Heritage Park Gazebo from 6 to 9 p.m. The Michelle Eastlund Band plays June 29. On July 27, Gayle Chapman & Friends perform. The Rebecca Scott Band will entertain on August 31.
So why not end this month on an up-note? Put on your comfortable shoes, walk up an appetite, learn something new, see fantastic artistry and sway to the beat at the Gazebo.
For more information on the City of Eagle Arts Commission and Last Thursday events, see the Web site www.cityofeagle.com.