BOISE -- More than $10,000 and two rounds of artist ideas later, there is still no decision on what sculpture should go outside Boise's City Hall as the front plaza is renovated.

A $200,000 piece of public art is slated to replace the state flags flying on poles on the south side of the building. The art will be funded 50 percent by the city and 50 percent by the Capital City Development Corporation.


First, there were these three proposals for City Hall Plaza, but after the arts panel of stakeholders narrowed it down, the city council voted against the proposed art.

Then, another request for qualifications went out with another three finalists chosen to create specific proposals for the site. Three artists again drew up their concepts, but the arts committee shot them all down. All of the finalists in both requests so far have been from out of state.

Part of it is City Hall is really a tough site, in that it's a very political site. It's really about what makes Boise, Boise. So the artists we were working with are very accomplished artists, but they just weren't really getting what Boise was, said Karen Bubb, Public Arts Manager.


Going through two rounds of selecting artists based on past work and resumes, and only then paying for making ideas specific to City Hall has cost $10-12,000. Because of the central location, scope of the project, and importance of the art's representation of Boise, Bubb says they have to work until they find the best piece.

When you're doing a significant public art project, you want to make the right decision. It's better to spend a small amount of money and make the right decisions, rather than spend $200,000 on a wrong decision, Bubb said.

With previous issues considered, the city is going a new direction with collecting proposals. It is asking for artists to submit proposals of actual art for the plaza and get the public's thoughts before the city narrows down the candidates.

So every single thing that's submitted will get public input on, and the panel will choose who to interview from that process, Bubb said.


Because the project is so large, like last time, the city must put the call for proposals nationwide, but with the new method of requesting ideas and choosing finalists, the city's public arts manager hopes many Idaho artists will get their ideas in too.

[This particular process] is not something that we normally do because essentially you're asking artists to do that work up front, but what it does is gives everyone a chance to put a concept forward, and we hope that will give us an idea of something that's really possible, Bubb said.

The call for artist ideas will go out in the next few days and will close November 8. After that, the public can check out and comment on all of the art ideas at the downtown Sesqui-Shop at 10th and Main.


Right now, the public can weigh in on art projects planned for the new Whitewater Park Boulevard. The the final ideas for the roundabout at the 30th street extension are on display now at Bee Wise Goods at 30th and State and will be there until September 21. The exhibit will then move to Idaho River Sports at 3100 West Pleasanton Ave.

Next, ideas will be taken for a project at Whittier Elementary. The city is looking for an artist to make a boundary between the school and Whitewater Park Boulevard. That project will be posted for bids soon, with ideas due October 9.

Both projects in that area are neighborhood-based and will be funded through grants.

Read or Share this story: