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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 3 - 9 , 2002


Valley women bask in glow of art

Express Staff Writer

Girls just want to have fun, and it’s not much different when they become ladies. What changes most is the scope of their fun.

From the partners series, by Boise artist Molly Hill, who is represented by the Stewart Gallery. Courtesy photo.

Because March was Women’s History Month, and in keeping with this concept, a maiden art tour made up of 26 women from the valley and their hosts, traveled by bus to Boise recently for a day of culture and art tours. The trip was organized by valley residents Page Shelburne and Ellie Riley.

The bus pulled up near Main Street and 15th Street in downtown Boise, depositing the art lovers at the Stewart Gallery. This classy space opened in 1987, and has quietly become a guiding force in contemporary art. The gallery has brought under its roof both performing and visual arts.

"We’re kind of a good secret," owner and artist Stephanie Wilde said.

She greeted the women to her gallery, where she illuminated her artistic mission and her hopes for the emerging art scene in Boise. Several of the artists, whom Stewart Gallery represents, were on hand to talk about their work, including Karen Bubb, who oversees 23 public arts projects for the City of Boise Arts Commission.

Wilde spoke of her own intensely intricate work and her love of the various mediums, such as print making. She not only works in the medium but is also committed to bringing internationally known printmakers to Boise.

The Steward Gallery carries original contemporary fine art and limited edition prints. Among the artists they represent are up and coming artists, many from the Northwest, including Bubb, Molly Hill, Alex Bigney, Marianne Kolb, Holly Downing and Katsunori Hamanishi.

Following the inspiring visit to the gallery, the women descended on Richard’s Across the Street, a lovely restaurant in the historic Hyde Park section of Boise.

Then the bus transported the women to the Boise Arts Museum, where they were treated to a special tour of a current exhibit by the owner of the collection, Jeri Waxenberg, of Ketchum.

Waxenberg, who came along for the day’s fesitivites, took center stage at once in the galleries that hold her collection. The show is titled "Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition."

Waxenberg had prepared the group for the show on the ride down with a short lecture on the modernist era. Notably, there were two world wars, the loss and redefinition of faith, and finally the atomic bomb. The latter monumentally changed the way people lived and thought about the world and the future, as was evident in the artistic expression in the works at BAM.

"It’s the historical concept of these women who broke the rules," Waxenberg said. Her collection, she said, is the culmination of the "sharing and exhilaration that links history. What better could we do for Women’s History Month?"

"I was blessed with three gifts," Waxenberg said. One was that she had no arts education when she began, and, therefore, didn’t realize that collecting women artists was not thought worthwhile. In fact, she said, the works of women artists were not even included in arts programs. As an example she pointed out that one of the United States’ best known and beloved female artists, Georgia O’Keeefe, was not among the women cited when they were finally included in art history curriculum in 1982.

The second gift, she said, was having few funds with which to buy art works. "I sought out the undiscovered." In the past 20 years those same undiscovered artists are now in well-respected collections and museums. The third gift was that she didn’t start out with the intention to collect.

Regardless, she managed to assemble a remarkable collection of important female artists, including Mabel Alvarez, Lucretia Van Horn, Leonora Carrington, Georgia Engelhard (Alfred Stieglitz and O’Keefe’s niece) and Ida O’Keefe (O’Keefe’s sister), Sybil Andrews, and Agnes Pelton.

Following the tour through Waxenberg’s exhibit, Sandy Hawthorn, curator of the Boise Art Museum, led the group through "True Grit," an exhibit that picks up where Waxenberg’s leaves off—with the dropping of the atomic bomb.

This collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings were made between 1951 and 1975 by seven female artists whose work made remarkable historical and cultural contributions to American art, said Hawthorn. It includes the quirky and dark assemblages of Lee Bontecou; the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois; the mixed media work of Jay DeFeo; the structural constructions of Claire Falkenstein; the collages of Nancy Grossman; the sculpture of Louise Nevelson; and the paintings of Nancy Spero.

And so ended the art-filled day for a group of Valley women.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.