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Modern Art Turns Five

A night of vice and VHS tape


Hotels are hotbeds of celebrity vice and excess. Tales of line-snorting, champagne-swilling and the ensuing chandelier-swinging are so common they've become a cliched rite of passage for waifish starlets and wannabe rockstars.

Boise artist Bruce Maurey took inspiration from these sordid stories to create Room 224 at the fifth-annual Modern Art event at the Modern Hotel and Bar on First Thursday, May 3. Maurey is painting 10 9-foot by 8-foot panels of celebrities who have met their end in the confines of a hotel.

"It's all painted in three colors, two of them are fluorescent and the whole place will be black-lit," explained Maurey. "From there, I'm just going over the top with certain people who have died, whether it's from pills or maybe cocaine or heroin."

Maurey's portraits include celebrities like Coco Chanel, Michael Hutchence from INXS, Janis Joplin and Nancy Spungen from Sid and Nancy.

"I'm trying to place everybody as close as I can to where they died--Martin Luther King is on the balcony because he was shot there, Whitney Houston is in the bathroom, Anna Nicole [Smith] is on the bed," said Maurey.

But despite the macabre theme, Maurey insists the installation will be light-hearted.

"All of the imagery is very uplifting and happy," said Maurey.

Not to be outdone in the realm of hotel excess, the Boise Weekly team will once again run the Art Barter Room, which has been moved up to Room 234. This year, we're turning our primo, second-floor suite into a hazy Prohibition-era speakeasy, complete with a faux bathtub still, lounging flappers and a high-stakes poker table. Frim Fram Four will provide period music from 6-6:45 p.m. and 7:15-8 p.m., while the folks at Heirloom Dance Studio demonstrate '20s-style rug-cutting.

And that's just the tip of the Modern Art iceberg. In the second floor Business Office, artist Bryan Moore will create portraits in a vintage, tiki-themed space; in Room 241, writers Elizabeth Rodgers and Elisabeth McKetta will take prompts from participants; and in Room 117-118, Tyler Bush, Minerva Jayne, Laird Lucas and Tina Barnett will offer retro and modern takes on John and Yoko's bed-in, complete with "Give Peace a Chance" sing-a-longs. In the Modern's courtyard, attendees can contribute to the Fortune Tree, which was made in memory of artist Surel Mitchell, and marvel at the knitted/crocheted VHS-tape masterpiece spearheaded by Adrian Kershaw.

Modern Art curators Kerry Tullis and Amy O'Brien said they were taken aback by the number of new or unknown artists who applied to be part of the event this year.

"Again, we're just shocked at the depth of the arts community," said Tullis. "Last year, there were all these new people ... And then it happened again this year in an even larger quantity."