Bosco: Connecting You to Treasure Valley Art

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Story by Greg Nelson
Photos by Emma Thompson

The Treasure Valley has always had a rich tradition of celebrating the arts; with local classics such as Art in the Park and First Thursday, residents have been provided many opportunities to enjoy the Idaho art scene. However, another lesser-known group is giving Boiseans a different avenue to consume the arts.

Boise Open Studios Collective Organization, better known as Bosco, is on a mission to connect the community with its talented and diverse artists. Founded in 2003, Bosco is a non-profit volunteer organization aimed at providing the public maximum exposure to local artists and their work. Not only does Bosco host showcase events at a central location, primarily the second weekend in October, it also provides the community chances to visit the studios of particular artists, none of whom will offer you the same experience.

One artist, Susan Rooke, says that getting involved with Bosco has increased her ability to iron out new ideas through working alongside other artists. “As I like to say, I’ve found my flock,” Rooke says. Her work is largely based around ideas relating to the human condition. “I love to distort both faces and bodies, along with birds and animals, in order to illustrate an idea, a dream, or a thought.” Rooke’s current projects deal primarily in stunning free-standing sculptures and 3-D tiles.

Rooke fell in love with art during her time in college when working with clay. “I feel as if I’ve been an artist my whole life although I did surprise many by doing so.” After college, she taught art in public schools in both Denver and Connecticut. When she made up her mind to fully immerse herself in creating art with clay, she would frequent the Potters Guild in Denver at 7 p.m. and plug away at her creations. “[I would} work with my cat at my side, until 4 a.m. learning and working and making every mistake in the book,” she describes. To make ends meet, Rooke would teach in various community centers and sell some of her pieces when possible. Her passion for this particular art form is clearly evident in all she does. “Art is a language that is necessary to a full life.”

Lynn Fraley is another talented member of Bosco. To her, Bosco’s unique style of hosting within a studio causes the art to come alive. “Don’t get me wrong, I love to see work…presented in a gallery. But there it can be almost more of an artifact,” Fraley describes.

“In the studio, art is clearly an extension of an individual’s life experience, whatever that may be,” Fraley said. To her, the Bosco allows the public to see an artist’s true style and sources of inspiration by observing his or her workplace. Whether it is piles of books or Post-it notes with scribbles of brainstorming, the heart and soul of the artist will resonate with all attendees. And that goes for fellow artists as well. “Artists are often collectors too — of things that inspire them, of other artists’ work… let’s face it, you just get to see some cool stuff, [which] can certainly inspire one to take a creative leap in your own life.  It did for me.”

Fraley didn’t set out to be an artist. In fact, she began going to school for architecture and ended up with an advertising and marketing degree. However, she doesn’t regret her educational path—in fact, it has been a very valued in her adult life. “As a full-time working artist, I am, by practical definition, an entrepreneur.”

Her life as a professional artist began about 25 years ago, specializing mostly in equine art. Initially, she thought art as merely a hobby. It wasn’t until she visited the studio of Nita K. Sunderland in her Illinois hometown did she have the epiphany that art could be a full-time profession.

“I vividly remember her opening the door from her kitchen to her studio space. Wow. Walking down three steps and out onto the floor of a roomy sculpture studio with various large-scale sculptures in all stages of process.” It was then understood that these creative techniques could be learned and incorporated into Fraley’s own life.

Aside from the upcoming October Bosco show, Fraley has been spending much of the summer preparing for her first solo exhibition called “Reality Check.” For those wanting to check out her new project, you can do so at the Friesen Gallery, in the Brandt Center on the campus of NNU from Aug 27 – Oct. 31, with an opening reception on September 10, 4 – 6 p.m.

While veteran artists such as Fraley are a large part of the Bosco tapestry, newer artists are just as important to what makes the organization so unique. Everett Smith quit is full time job about a year ago to wholeheartedly pursue art, his true passion. However, Smith describes making art his entire life; as a child, he found himself constantly copying illustrations out of fantasy books. His interest followed him through high school and college where he discovered his affinity for photography and other mediums. Smith completed his Fine Arts degree at Boise State University in 2016.

Much of Smith’s inspiration for his gorgeous oil paintings and photographs come from being in the great Idaho outdoors. “Magnificent and endless inspiration is available so close to us,” says Smith. “Many of my paintings are created with a specific place in mind. I love the light that radiates off the sky before the sun has fully risen. [It] makes for some of the most beautiful and unique natural colors that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Currently, he continues to expand on his landscape series, his largest collection to date. This ambitious project blends natural locations with a psychedelic assortment of spirals without overly abstracting the subject matter. “Every time that I go somewhere new, I get a rush of inspiration to make a piece based on the place.”

Smith joined Bosco on the recommendation of his mentor, Jerry Hendershot. Since then, the organization has been a valuable stepping-stone in his young career as an artist. “Bosco gives an awesome opportunity…to get some stuff out there for people to see and fall in love with,” Smith explains. “As an artist, it can be hard to find that outreach to get some eyes on your work.”

Smith will be showcasing new additions to his stunning landscape series and an array of limited addition prints at the upcoming October Bosco studio weekend tour. Furthermore, you can check him and other Bosco artists out at the Riverside Hotel in Garden City on August 31st showing and selling his art.

With such an eclectic group of fantastic artists, Bosco is sure to provide a one-of-a-kind, interactive experience for all. The next weekend tour is October 11-13, and all other information about Bosco events can be found on their Facebook page and at boiseopenstudios.com. Rest assured, this is something you aren’t going to want to miss. It’s like the Parade of Homes, but for art studios.