Idaho Arts Quarterly » Southwest Idaho

Summer 2006 Report

June • July • August

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Local Author Finalist for Bakeless Prize

A short story collection by Boise author Ryan Blacketter is a finalist for the prestigious Bakeless Literary Publication Prizes. Blacketter's book, Horses All Over Hell, is a novel-in-stories set in Lewiston, where Blacketter grew up. He currently lives in Boise and says that his unusual upbringing in Northern Idaho continues to "haunt" him.

"The state is different than much of the country, more isolate, religious, traditional and plain strange, like Flannery O'Connor's 'Christ-haunted Georgia," he says. "While in Lewiston, my family was charismatic Catholics. We spoke in tongues, or tried to, and watched disturbing movies at mountain retreats about the 'end times.' There's a lot of story potential in that kind of experience."

If Blacketter wins the Bakeless Prize, Houghton Mifflin will publish his book and he will receive a fellowship to attend the Breadloaf Writer's Conference at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. In the meantime, however, Blacketter has plenty to keep him busy in-state, including a $1,000 grant he recently received to teach a literary seminar at Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. Titled "Coming of Age in the West," the seminar is designed to encourage reading as a way for young offenders to review morals, values and other strategies for successful social interaction, according to the Idaho Humanities Council.

To learn more about Blacketter, visit his Web site, http://boiseliteraryfiction.blogspot.com. For more info on the Bakeless Prizes, visit the award's Web site at http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/blwc/bakeless.

Awards Pile Up for "Peacekeeper"

Boise State fiction writing professor Alan Heathcock has won a National Magazine Award for his story "Peacekeeper." The story, which describes a series of incidents revolving around Sheriff Helen Farraley, the first and only law officer in the rural town of Krafton, Indiana, first appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review in its fall 2005 issue. Other recipients of "Ellies," as the award is nicknamed, included Joyce Carol Oates and R.T. Smith, both of whom had stories in the same Virginia Quarterly Review issue. "Peacekeeper" was also recently included in the collection "Best American Mystery Stories 2006."

"I'm thrilled to bring the Ellie to Boise," said Heathcock, who graduated from Boise State's MFA program in 2004. "Years of diligent work are beginning to pay themselves out, and it feels wonderful. Thanks to everyone at Boise State University who has helped inspire and support my work."

To read "Peacekeeper," visit the Virginia Quarterly Review online at www.vqronline.org, click the "Issues" link and "Fall 2005."

BAM Goes High-Tech

Boise Art Museum will soon receive a virtual facelift, as the museum is one of 104 nonprofit organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico to receive a Technology for Community Grant from Hewlett Packard. Valued at $17,000, the grant will yield a bevy of technological treats for the museum, including its very own wireless access point, wireless digital projector, digital camera and five HP notebook PCs, among other items. Luckily, BAM staffers will also receive training from HP on how to set up a wireless network.

The new technology won't just benefit BAM's staff, however. As part of the grant, the museum will implement interactive software in the galleries, and even develop a digitized collection to make images in the museum's collection available to the public via CD-ROM and the Internet. For more information about the grant, visit either www.hp.com/go/hpcommunity or www.boiseartmuseum.org.

Darkwood Offers Free Tracks from New Album

The new album by Boise's very own world-famous bass clarinet/viola duo, Darkwood Consort, isn't set to drop until June 15. But in the meantime, reed king Aage Nielson and viola shark Jennifer Drake have placed three preview tracks on their MySpace.com page, www.myspace.com/darkwoodconsort. The three tracks are predictable Darkwood fare, which is to say, totally unpredictable. They include "Amidst the Ruins of Hadrian's Gate," by Greek composer Manos Jagjidakis, the 14th-century Scandanavian tune "Bereden vag for Herran," and an arrangement of "The Seeds of Brotherhood," by legendary Native American folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie. The site also includes the track "La Bionda Trecca" from Darkwood's first CD, Tro og Haab Spiller. Of course, a mention of MySpace wouldn't be appropriate without mentioning some of Darkwood's MySpace "friends," which, incidentally, include both classical standbys like the Kronos Quartet and noise-rock luminaries Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead and the Raveonettes.

The plastic version of Darkwood's new album will be available at a CD release party on June 15, 7 p.m., at the Record Exchange in Boise. For more information, visit either the duo's MySpace.com page or their Web site proper, www.darkwoodconsort.com.

James Castle Show Opens in NYC

On May 4, Knoedler & Company Gallery in New York City opened its third exhibition devoted to the work of Idaho artist James Castle (1900-1977). Titled "James Castle/Walker Evans: Word-play, Signs and Symbols," Castle's part of the show focuses specifically on the artist's unique approach to text in his work. While Castle's degree of literacy has been debated, and his own use of language was limited, he paid great attention to both creating, borrowing and mimicking letters and incorporating them into a variety of media including collages, drawings, handmade books and mixed media works.

"The dream-like charm and homespun intricacy of Castle's work, its material resourcefulness and formal adaptation of the sign, add up to as complex a mix of operations as any in postwar American art," said Rutgers University professor Stephen Westfall in the catalogue essay for the exhibition.

The works in the show from Walker Evans (1903-1975) are Polaroid pictures the famed documentary photographer took in the years 1973 and 1974. These detailed shots of domestic interiors and text from storefront signs and traffic signs show a very different side of Evans than his more famous work documenting the Depression-era American south in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Westfall writes of the connection between the two artists, "The local world rustles through them, corners of America previously overlooked by the mainstream art world but brimming with homespun classicism and surreality."

Knoedler & Company present the Castle exhibition in collaboration with J Crist Gallery in Boise. The exhibition will run through August 11.