Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bill and Paul wow Boise

Local artists selected for statewide art exhibition

Bill and Paul wow Boise

"Stars of Alhambra" by William Lennon. Currently on display at the Idaho Triennial in Boise.

The winners of the Boise Art Museum's triennial exhibit, The 2004 Idaho Triennial, were selected last Thursday. The overall winner was sound artist Ted Apel. Painter Charles Gill took home second prize and joint winners of the third prize were Geoffrey Kruger, also a painter, and photographer Lori Dagley. All four winners live in Boise.

Organized every three years, the Idaho Triennial is a statewide, juried art exhibition that reflects the quality and diversity of artwork being created in Idaho. This year's guest juror was Arthur C. Danto; one of America's most inventive and influential art critics and philosophers.

Of the 27 Idaho artists that Danto hand picked from 257 applications, two were from the Wood River Valley. A longtime Bellevue resident, William "Bill" Lennon's career to date has been in the restaurant business, but his passion is painting. His inevitable move toward embracing that passion full time began four years ago, when he converted his garage into a studio. His wife, Lori Israel, was obliged to buy a Mini Cooper in order to park her car inside.

Lennon's work is on a large scale (hence the need for the Mini), his canvases are vast and he would love to go even bigger. "I work on a stretch canvas, then I apply a vinyl stucco to the surface and then I either carve into it, draw into it or design stamps that I can press in. The basic style is influenced by Spanish tiling and stucco that I saw at The Alhambra Palace in Granada."

His selection for the Triennial has been a big thrill. "All of this has been kind of like I need to wake up and pinch myself!" he exclaims. Lennon's artistic dream started back in 1971, upon his return from fighting in the Vietnam War. "When I came back I decided to use the GI bill to gain a second degree, this time in fine arts." But it was over 30 years before he was able to turn that degree towards a career. It was visiting The Alhambra that inspired Lennon to rediscover his artistic talent and it quickly became clear that there was a market for his work.

"I came back to painting about four years ago. Chris and Rebecca at CK's Restaurant in Hailey selected one of my paintings for their restaurant and it snowballed from there. I sold nine paintings in 2004. Now I'm trying to make the transition from bar manager to full time artist."

He currently has two series of paintings, one dedicated to The Alhambra, titled The Mediterranean Series, and the other inspired by the Moab desert in Utah.

"I have two Moab pieces in the museum show and one Mediterranean. My paintings are intended to arouse one's curiosity as well as explore contrasts of texture, color, and design. Hopefully, the visual experience is a quiet respite from the day to day bombardment of audio and literal information."

Hailey resident Paul Downey began his love affair with glass in 1981, when he needed an art credit. That credit led him to a BA in Fine Arts. Currently he works as a full-time glassblower from his studio in Hailey. He exhibits his work at the Roland Art Glass Gallery in Ketchum.

This is his first entry into the Idaho Triennial since it changed from the biannual format in 1991.

"It's kinda prestigious getting in, it gives you a thrill. Friends of mine in Boise say this one is a really high quality show and they say my work is some of the best in it, but they're biased of course!"

The works Downey has submitted are known as constructions, where the glass is pieced together rather than blown into one complete piece.

The constructions are inspired by the erotic beauty of the human torso and the artist's own fascination with glass. "I've always been mesmerized by its reflective and refractive qualities ... It's dancing with fire and freezing in time for eternity." Downey and Lennon's work will be amongst those on display at the BAM Idaho Triennial until March 13. Selected works from the show will then travel to the Prichard Gallery at the University of Idaho, Moscow (August 17 to Oct. 1) and then the Herrett Center for Arts and Science, CSI, Twin Falls (Oct. 25 to Dec. 17).

For more information, visit or contact William Lennon at 788-9155 or Paul Downey at 788-5676.

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