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Boise Mayor’s 2011 awards honor Surel Mitchell, Tim Woodward and others

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The biennial accolade honors the people and groups that fuel Boise’s arts and cultural scene.
Copyright: © 2011 Idaho Statesman
Published: 06/05/11

The 2011 winners include visual, literary and performing artists, longstanding cultural organizations, lifelong arts lovers, people who work to preserve Boise’s past and one of the city’s most enduring voices.

Mayor Dave Bieter made the final decision with recommendations from a community panel and members of the Boise City Department of Arts and History.

The awards will be handed out at a dinner and ceremony at 5 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Old Penitentiary, 2445 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. Tickets will go on sale in August.

Here are the winners for 2011:


Æ Jane Oppenheimer died last year at age 92 and left a rich legacy of artistic support and integrity. She ardently supported the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Botanical Garden, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Boise Philharmonic, among other groups. She served on the Idaho Commission on the Arts and provided leadership at a critical time that ensured the ICA’s support reached the entire state.

Æ In his 36 years as an Idaho Statesman columnist, Tim Woodward documented the events, people and culture of Boise with a warmth and humor that made him one of the city’s treasures. He chronicled most of our shared milestones, and brought a few to our attention that would have escaped notice without him. He told each story with a particular Woodwardian style that touched our hearts and helped us care a little more about where we live. He retired from the Statesman on June 1.


Individual: Painter and multimedia artist Surel Mitchell has been a creative force in Boise’s arts community for many years. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1980s. Rather than let that become a setback, she used her struggle against the disease to deepen her artistic process and inform her subject matter. It gave her a way to cope, she says.

Organization: The Cabin, formerly called The Log Cabin Literary Center, was founded in 1995 to bring together people who love reading, writing and literary discourse. It blossomed into an organization that reaches the entire state through its Writers in the Schools program and summer writing camp. It offers area writers a forum for their work. Through its “Readings and Conversations” series, it also brings nationally recognized authors, such as Amy Tan and Jonathan Franzen, to Boise.


Individual: Mark Baltes combines his passions for art and history in his life and his work. Through his company, Landmark Impressions, he makes interpretive markers for historical sites. He also uses history as a context for his public art pieces, such as “Penny Post Card,” a mural at Boise City Hall that features historic images of Boise. He’s also served on several local historical preservation boards, including the North End Neighborhood Association.

Organization: The Basque Museum and Cultural Center won this award for “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Basques,” historical exhibit the museum created for the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Since 1985, the museum has been the connection point for Boise Basque heritage and culture, preserving Boise Basque oral history, artifacts, manuscripts and photography. In 1998, it founded the country’s first Basque preschool, Boiseko Ikastola, which teaches Basque language and culture to kids 2 to 6.


The Arts: Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center will be recognized for its dedication to integrating the work of local artists into its Center for Advanced Healing. Art consultant Jacqueline Crist guided the process by commissioning artists to create glass and ceramic sculpture, fiber art, enameled work and custom-designed furniture. Saint Al’s also created an artist-in-residence program.

History: Through his company, Planmakers Planning and Urban Design, John Bertram works to help communities and companies understand the character and historical significance of a particular place. He helped develop C.W. Moore Park, the Old Boise district and the 8th Street Marketplace in Downtown. He has served on the Idaho Humanities Council and the Boise City Historic Preservation Commission.


The Arts, individual: Modern dancer Leah Stevens Clark turned her love of her art into a way to nurture a new generation. Since founding Balance Dance Co. in 1997, she has trained and inspired hundreds of young dancers to feel empowered as artists and as women. Many go on to pursue dance as a career. Others follow other passions, but they all become stronger individuals for the experience.

History, individual: Boise High School history teacher Doug StanWiens created the Boise Architecture Project in 2007 to inspire his students to take an interest in historic and contemporary architecture. The students document Boise’s cityscape through oral history, photography, art and other mediums.

Organization: It’s hard to imagine how many Idaho students have been inspired by the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s Shakesperience and Idaho Theater for Youth educational outreach performances. More than 50,000 school children see one of these companies perform each year. The festival also helps prepare the next generation of performers through its drama school, summer camps and the festival’s apprentice program, through which young actors work with the professional company during the summer season.

Dana Oland: 377-6442

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