Boise showcases talented artists at 69th annual “Art in the Park”

Art is an extremely powerful force of human expression, ranging from doodles on study sheets to massive oil based portraits. Unbeknownst to most, Boise harbors a vibrant art scene that showcases the work of artists all over the world. 

Boise’s annual “Art in the Park” occurs the weekend after Labor Day every year, displaying hundreds of local and national artists along with their work. This most recent “Art in the Park” was the 69th anniversary, with hundreds of artists and even more locals coming to take part in the celebration.

Boise’s Art in the Park

Melanie Fales, executive director of the Boise Art Museum, shared the legacy of Art in the Park and what exactly is the driving force behind this event.

“Boise Art Museum has been building community through the arts with Art in the Park for 69 years,” Fales said. “We celebrate the artists in Art in the Park and bring people together to enjoy a beautiful weekend while supporting the artists, food vendors and the Boise Art Museum.”

Fales also shared that this year, there were 240 artists in attendance. Artists traveled from all over the U.S. to be a part of Boise’s art scene, though some traveled merely minutes as Boise itself is a hub for artistry and is home to many talented artists. 

Nearly every booth is accompanied by the artists themselves, all more than willing to speak about their work and share it with all who enter. Artists sat proudly among their art and expressed joy in sharing their hard work.

Artists near and far

Idaho Native, Karla Herre, shared her experience with Art in the Park and her journey that led to creating her alpaca felt crafts.

Originally from Twin Falls, Idaho, Karla Herre and her husband moved to Texas. However, upon hearing about “Art in the Park” by a family member, the Herre’s packed up their fifth wheel RV and drove 1800 miles from Texas to Boise to display the felt creations Karla makes from the fiber harvested from the alpacas they raise on their farm.

“I made a personal commitment to do something with all the fiber they produced,”  Herre said. “That’s when I started making felt…I started making bags with it and added embroidery embellishments. I found that some of the embroidered pictures and scenes were just phenomenal and deserved to be seen on more than just the front of a tee-shirt. I thought I could make these pictures bigger and hang them on the wall so others could enjoy these little masterpieces. And it has evolved from there.”

A yearly celebration specifically designed to gather artists and provide a space in which their artistry and hard work can be seen and appreciated is an exciting opportunity for all artists and for those who enjoy taking part in local art.

Perri Duncan, a watercolor artist originally from Scotland, shared that art has always been a part of her life and has been her main career for 40 years. Duncan specializes in vibrant watercolor landscapes, the true talent and keen artistry can be seen by all through her pieces.

“I trained in oils but my preferred medium is watercolor as it comes naturally to me. I love the way color floats over the paper and the softness of the medium,” Duncan said. “As soon as I realized I could draw and paint, there was nothing else I wanted to do.”

Art is such an extremely fascinating expression, a physical creation in which one can pour themselves onto a canvas and know that it was wholeheartedly created through patience and passion.

Art allows both viewers and creators to feel something unique. Hardwork and utter determination finally presenting itself as a captivating piece of art is something beyond unique to humans.

Boise creates a full and joyous art scene to those who enter, either as an artist or a patron of the arts. With art constantly being exhibited around Boise, locals are surrounded by the handiwork and creativity of neighbors and may not even be aware of it.

“I have clients who return to see me there (Art in the Park),” Duncan said. “I am happy that my work brings joy to so many people.” 

As art proves itself to be a widely confusing and subjective expression,  it can also be simple.

Mishell Swartwout, an Oregon based artist, shared the meaning behind bringing her whimsical animal portraits to Boise.

“Every year I come to Boise Art in the Park from Grants Pass, Oregon. As a nationally recognized show, I heard about it while doing other shows across the USA,” Swartwout said. “The community’s amazing support of this show makes it my favorite.”

Swartouts art depicts wild animals performing human tasks, like a cartoon bunny brushing their teeth, baby llamas in the bathtub and even a hippo weighing themself. Swartwout’s art is a specific type of “bathroom art” that while silly, is beautifully illustrated and draws the attention of customers.

Pursuing art as a full-time career is a daunting task, though Art in the Park gives a variety of artists a chance to showcase their hard work and interact with local art lovers.

“My motivation is to bring a smile and a laugh to the viewer,” Swartwout said. “It is my way of shining light in the world.”

Art as an expression

Art itself is extremely subjective, it presents itself in many forms and can be created in a multitude of ways. Art simply being an expression of the creator’s sense allows a relief to both those who make it and those who can find bits of themself within another’s creation.

Sometimes art is simply something that brings happiness to a viewer. Silly portraits of animals taking showers or brushing their teeth is just as meaningful as detailed landscapes or locally grown fiber crafts.

All forms of art are not inherently tidy and profound. Art can be chaotic and messy, but in the end it is the product of another and their creativity.

Boise honoring the hard work and tireless efforts of artists is something meaningful, gathering artists and their work at one event for nearly seven decades in an effort to prove art as a simple human necessity.

Human expression can be done in many ways, and these specific artists have devoted their lives to creation and sharing it with all those who are interested.

Boise’s annual “Art in the Park” is a simple tribute to all those who find value in the arts, both in creating art and admiring it.

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