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Land Art Exhibit Reflects Nature Fleeting

The Idaho Botanical Garden's annual event encourages outdoor enthusiasts to explore sustainable art installations.

Article by Kurt Orzeck

Photography by The Goofy Goobers

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Snow may still be falling in Boise, but it won't be falling much longer — no matter what some groundhog in some East Coast state “predicts.”

All of us Boise residents know how the city turns on a pivot when the snow stops and the temps go up, up and up. As if on cue, throngs of outdoor enthusiasts return to walking and running on the Greenbelt. Bikers and hikers pepper the foothills once again. Love of Boise’s verdant, rich environs comes back in the air.

Several community events ring in the city’s annual rebirth, from Treefort to farmers markets to new exhibitions at Zoo Boise and the World Center for Birds of Prey.

But no annual activity in Boise encapsulates the return of sunshine and warm(er) weather than Land Art Exhibit at the Idaho Botanical Garden. A perfect marriage of art and the outdoors, the exhibit bequeaths active members of the Boise community with the best of both those worlds.

“Boise has a radical awakening ... especially after inversion,” Idaho Botanical Garden Marketing Communications Director Chris Becker said. “When the [the inversion] goes away, the greens and buds pop immediately. The sun comes out, and plants start to grow again.”

And that’s where the Land Art Exhibit comes in. (Well, just about; technically, spring doesn't start until March 20.)

Nevertheless, the annual Land Art Exhibit is perfectly tailored for admirers of art at any age. The exhibits given art enthusiasts the opportunity to explore and engage with temporary art pieces on 15 acres of cultivated green space.

The exhibit features nine or 10 art installations spread around the Idaho Botanical Garden, according to Becker. Organizers, in tandem with the artists, carefully place the pieces so that the art properly suits the spot where it is located. For those concerned about Boise getting infiltrated by too many non-natives, Becker assured that all but one or two of the participating artists are local.

“Artists have conversations with our lead horticulturalist, who walks with them to decide where to put their installations,” Becker explained.

The Land Art Exhibit is an annual outdoor event featuring creations made with sustainable materials. Selected artists will construct their temporary art pieces to be featured on our 15 acres of cultivated green space.

The exhibit runs from April 1 to May 2 and is staged in conjunction with Duck Club, the music and art promotional group behind Treefort.

“Our vision is to build a natural space for people to gather together, celebrate nature, music, art and education,” Becker said of the Idaho Botanical Garden’s collaboration with Duck Club.

As big of a draw as the foothills are in Boise, they aren’t for everyone. Due to lack of cover on most trails, the sun can be too much for those who are looking for a pleasant, shady stroll. And there are steep climbs, as many of the trails lack switchbacks.

For those who don’t connect with the foothills, the Land Art Exhibit is the choice alternative.

“It’s a fun way to appreciate high-quality art without having to venture into the foothills,” Becker agreed.

Members of the community, and no doubt visitors as well, seem to be catching on to the exhibit. Becker said the Idaho Botanical Garden continues to see increased numbers of visitors every year.

“It draws in people who want to see the creativity in our community, comment on sustainability and how we live amid nature,” he said. “One of our efforts with the exhibit is to encourage people to tread more lightly. We use plants that grow here that are native to our ecosystem and meant to grow in this environment.”

Becker underscored the word “sustainability” throughout our conversation — and for good reason. While the art pieces featured in the exhibit are varied in terms of shape, size and message, they are all biodegradable.

Accordingly — and unlike most outdoor art installations — the ones featured in this special event at the Idaho Botanical Garden are temporary.

“We call it our ‘Land Art Exhibit’ because the pieces are only up for one month, then return to the earth,” he said. “Some decay because they’re made of all-natural material. At the end of event, our staff and artists pick up all the materials that remain.”

He added: “More people moving to Idaho means more waste, which in turn accelerates climate change.”

Becker noted similar intentions behind Shade City, a two-day event held at the Idaho Botanical Garden on April 21 and 22. Attendees enjoy quality beer while discussing sustainability and ways to reduce waste.

Becker noted that Idaho Botanical Garden organizers adhere to one main ambition when they stage both events: to educate adults and children alike.

All told, the Land Art Exhibit at the Idaho Botanical Garden simultaneously showcases — perhaps more so than any other Boise event all year — the city’s beautiful outdoor assets and ever-burgeoning artistic community.

To put it simply, if you’re looking for an excuse to get outside and take in some art, there’s no excuse not to check out the Land Art Exhibit. Check out IdahoBotanicalGarden.org for additional information.

“It’s a fun way to appreciate high-quality art without having to venture into the foothills.” -Craig Becker