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Thirst Thursday

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It's been six months since BW broke the story about the Idaho State Police and the Boise Police Department busting art galleries for illegally serving beer and wine at their gallery openings (BW, News, 7/12/2006, "Put The Wine Down"). Since then, gallery openings are no less spirited, but they are a shade more legal, if expensive.

"We've not had any problems," said Capt. Jim Kerns of the BPD. He reports that he's now seeing about five or six applications per month for the city's $21 liquor and catering permits. Of course, before the cops notified galleries that they were in violation of the state's 70-year-old law against non-licensed serving of beer and wine, the city saw no permits pulled.

"It certainly hasn't affected business," said Anneliessa Stimpert from the Visual Arts Collective. That's because her gallery has opted to get a permit through a catering service run by Guido's restaurant, so they can continue to serve beer and wine at their gallery events. The other option, of course, would be to close the gallery down to anyone under 21 years of age, which she is "just not willing to do."

The situation was primarily a problem for those galleries that participate in events like First Thursday, where wandering art lovers might expect to get a plastic cup of wine as they peruse the paintings. Those who don't participate in mass art events like First Thursday aren't sweating the permits as much.

"It hasn't changed anything for us," said Stephanie Wilde of the Stewart Gallery. "I don't think about it."

Wilde says her art openings are much more private, but that, yes, she still has wine for patrons.

"And now I'm probably going to get busted," she said.

"This," Wilde said, "is taking up way too much time. I just wish they'd focus on other things."