Despite being one of the least densely-populated states in the USA, Idaho has a thriving contemporary arts scene that. From the numerous galleries in the vibrant downtown capital of Boise to the arty town of Ketchum in Sun Valley, named one of America’s Best Small Art Towns in 2013, Idaho’s art scene has a lot to offer.
The Boise Art Museum came about following a gathering of 30 local citizens at the Boise Art Association in 1931 to discuss the city’s need for an art gallery. Six years later the museum, then known as the Boise Art Gallery, was built in downtown Boise within the grounds of the picturesque Julia Davis Park. Since its establishment the Boise Art Museum has amassed a collection of over 3,000 artworks encompassing media such as painting, sculpture and contemporary photography, with a particular focus on 20th-century artists from the Northwest region. The permanent collection includes works by prominent Northwest painter Kenneth Callahan and abstract sculptor Hilda Morris. Temporary exhibitions have included award-winning performance artist and fabric sculptor Nick Cave’s Soundsuits and works by Boise-based painter Troy Passey.
Founded in 1987 in downtown Boise by partners Lane Bune and Stephanie Wilde, who is an artist herself, the Stewart Gallery is dedicated to representing a range of established and up-and-coming artists with innovative and experimental practices. The gallery roster includes a small number of talented artists with whom it collaborates on exhibitions, projects and national art fairs. Amongst the artists currently represented are Wesley Anderegg, and his darkly surreal ceramic sculptures, and Matt Duffin who creates otherworldly monochrome etchings in encaustic wax. The gallery has also presented exhibitions featuring the tree based landscapes of Canadian painter Robert Marchessault and by Wyoming based wildlife painter Matt Flint.
Foreground and left: Walter Zimmerman, Right: Einar & Jamex de la Torré, from the exhibit 'SLAG, The Anti Art Glass', Prichard Art Gallery | Courtesy of Prichard Art Gallery
Located in the small city of Ketchum, which in 2013 was named one of the USA’s Top Small Art Towns by ArtSpace, the Gail Severn Gallery has been in operation for over 35 years. During this time the gallery has garnered a reputation for its program of thought-provoking artists at all career stages and working in a range of media. The galley has four different exhibition spaces totalling an area of over 8,000 square feet, an outdoor sculpture courtyard and a further two acre sculpture garden with installations that change on a seasonal basis. Artists who have shown here include Californian abstract expressionist sculptor Bruce Beasley, Montana based sculptor Brad Rude, award-winning abstract painter Gary Komarin and mixed media installation artist Lisa Kokin.
Kota Ezawa, 'Lennon, Sontag, Beuys' | Courtesy of Prichard Art Gallery
Overseen by gallery director Roger Rowley, also an artist and photographer, the Prichard Art Gallery is part of the University of Idaho and is located in downtown Moscow. Established in 1982 with the aim of becoming a leading figurehead in the Northwest’s visual contemporary arts community while encouraging experimentation in the arts, the gallery presents a year-round program of around ten exhibitions annually and attracts an average of 17,000 visitors each year. Artworks on display include folk art, photography, computer art and installations, alongside the more traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, as well as the work of students studying art at the university. Prichard Art Gallery also gave artist and river guide Lonnie Hutson his first major exhibition, 38 Minus: The Idaho Fish Project – a series of paper relief sculptures of the state’s 38 native fish species.
Based in the popular lakeside resort town of Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho, The Art Spirit Gallery was established in 1997 by artist and owner Steve Gibbs. Gibbs’ goal was to encourage the exhibition of quality artworks by established Northwest-based artists and to nurture the local emerging talent. The gallery features two floors of exhibition space with changing monthly exhibitions that ensure visitors can view new, vibrant artworks with each visit. The Art Spirit Gallery has hosted exhibitions by artists including mixed media sculptor Robert Grimes and Hawaii born ceramicist Cary Weigand whose figurative sculptures blend a classic sensibility with a nod to fantasy.
The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho was founded in 2002 with the mission of providing a local visual arts experience for the residents of Southeastern Idaho. Located in the historic downtown area of Idaho Falls, the museum resides in a modern building in a picturesque riverside location next to the city’s South Capitol Park. In addition to its captivating and thought-provoking exhibition program, the gallery hosts a series of art classes run by the museum’s resident artists. The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho holds a number of thematic group exhibitions each year, and its permanent collection includes Idaho native Marilyn Hoff Hansen’s 2000 painting Midday and Morning and two abstract paintings by Oregon based artist Anne O’Brien Gonzales.
The Willard Arts Center, based in Idaho Falls, was established in 1994 when the late local businessman Dick Clayton Sr. donated the city’s old Colonial Theater and neighboring buildings to the Idaho Falls Art Council, which overlooks the center. A further anonymous donation and community fundraising campaign raised the $4.2 million needed to renovate the premises into the first-rate visual arts center it is today. The center is split into two galleries – the Hall Community Gallery, which exhibits regional artists and includes Idaho native Peggy Wyman’s beautiful sculptures, handcrafted from pine needles, and the Carr Gallery, which displays contemporary works by artists from across the USA, including South Carolina-based Dawn Hunter, whose paintings explore gendered identities in pop culture.
The NfiniT Gallery, a cooperative art gallery located in downtown Boise, was established just a few years ago in 2012. It has already built up a roster of 31 talented local artists whose work, in the media of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and glass art, it displays and sells. The gallery, whose name was chosen to represent the notion of boundless possibilities and creative freedom within the arts, was set up to promote local Idahoan talent and provide a space where artists can have an equal voice in how a gallery is run. Among the artists shown at NfiniT Gallery are Misty Benson, who creates Gothic skeleton sculptures, and Jerry Kencke and his hauntingly beautiful landscape photography.
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The Art Source Gallery, which recently celebrated its 20th year in operation, was founded in November 1993 and was established as an artist’s cooperative for artists native to Idaho. Situated on downtown Boise’s vibrant Main Street, the Art Source Gallery is currently comprised of around 40 Idaho-based artists whose work is regularly displayed at the gallery and also within the Boise Airport. The gallery accepts artists working across a number of media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography, and includes Boise-based Zella Bardsley, a metal and mixed media artist, and Tony Morse, whose photography captures starkly beautiful scenes and people.
Established in 2007 in the Sun Valley area town of Ketchum, the Gilman Contemporary gallery was founded to encourage appreciation of and creativity within the contemporary arts. In its short history, the gallery has established a reputation for bringing a variety of high quality artworks to the arty Sun Valley region that are stimulating, captivating and innovative. They have been voted “Best of the Valley” every year since its inception, 2007-2016. With an emphasis on painting, sculpture and photography Gilman Contemporary’s past exhibitions have featured artworks by Texan painter and collage artist Cecil Touchon and Nashville based sculptor Johan Hagaman. Currently they represent Los Angeles based sculptor Hacer Gilman. Contemporary was voted the Best Gallery in the Sun Valley Guide’s Best of the Valley 2012 Awards.