Blog Archives

Jammin’ With the Champs

Posted on by Michael Vogt / Comments Off on Jammin’ With the Champs

Each year during the third week of June, roughly 350 musicians from thirty states and their fans congregate at Weiser for the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival. Fiddling arrived in Weiser with covered wagon emigrants in 1863, and contests were reported as early as 1914. The current festival and contest, first held in 1953, now ranks among fiddling’s “Big Three,” alongside the Grand Master Fiddle Championships in Nashville and the World Championships of Fiddling in Crockett, Texas. Continue reading

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The Quilt Trail

Posted on by Carolyn Chandler / Comments Off on The Quilt Trail

During 2012, the huge Sheep Fire raged for several weeks in the Nez Perce National Forest near our home on Slate Creek, south of White Bird.

My husband Glenn and I were in the Black Hills of South Dakota when it started, and concerned neighbors and friends called to let us know about the threat. I asked my sewing buddy, Ruth, to go to my house if the fire got close, take out all my quilts, and pack them in the car.

As it turned out, we arrived home in time to get ready for possible evacuation. Of course, the first things we packed were important papers, pictures, and clothing, but my quilts were next on the list. In the end, we didn’t have to evacuate. Firefighters, those wonderful men and women who risk their lives for the rest of us, established a fire line a mile east of our home, and it held.

The reason I placed such a high priority on my quilts in that emergency begins with childhood memories.

“Look, Sis, here’s a piece of material from my old skirt.”

“And one from Daddy’s shirt.”

“And from the dress you used to love.”

My sister Phyllis and I sat on the double bed we shared, the kerosene lamp lit beside us, and examined the latest of Grandma Ball’s homemade quilts. Growing up in a small village in the Alaska Territory, we were always covered by a few quilts when the wind was howling, or a raging blizzard was screaming outside, and the temperatures were way below zero. I remember times when the whole family took our mattresses and bedding (including many quilts) downstairs to the living room, to be closer to the oil stove. Sometimes the radio would crackle as we tried to listen to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and His Dog King and other radio programs but it was fun, and we laughed together as we huddled under our quilts, until it was time to sleep.

My in-laws, who settled in Slate Creek Canyon in the early Forties, were thrifty, capable people who recycled numerous items (they called it “making do”), refashioning them to last for many years in one form or another. They often made “new” quilts out of worn-out clothing, patching them as needed. Glenn’s mother Myrtle saved old clothes and made treasured Lone Star Quilts for each of her grandchildren, using pieces of Grandpa’s shirts, Grandma’s clothing, and material from the child (and his or her parents) for whom the quilt was being made. Continue reading

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Art You Can Sit On

Posted on by Carrie Getty Scheid / Comments Off on Art You Can Sit On

Forty-two art benches grace downtown Idaho Falls and the Snake River greenbelt. Each one has a story. But how they got there is the story I want to tell.

Downtown Idaho Falls has been called a lot of things. The old timers once referred to it as “Alcohol Falls.” My husband Jerry, a retired sheep and cattle rancher, fondly remembers driving sheepherders and camp-tenders into downtown from his family ranch right after they collected their six months’ of winter and trail wages. It was the early 1950s. The first stops were always the Bon Villa and Jack’s Club, two notorious bars sometimes called “blind pigs” by the locals. Recognizing the windfall delivered to their establishments, the bartenders would allow Jerry, the underaged teen chauffer, to belly up to the bar for free while the hired hands bought rounds for the house.

During the ‘60s, the downtown’s hurly burly persona began to fade. The department stores and movie theaters fled to suburban shopping centers and malls, which offered bigger buildings, bigger parking lots, and bigger crowds. The exodus continued when more downtown professional firms and restaurants moved to the east side of town, where the new shopping centers, malls and hospital were now located. In the early ‘90s, downtown Idaho Falls had about hit bottom—too many vacant storefronts and too few shoppers. As local developer Larry Reinhart told me back then, “I am tired of Idaho Falls being called Jackson Hole’s ugly stepsister.” Continue reading

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Art Calls

Posted on by Alex Vega / Comments Off on Art Calls

As soon as we saw the huge, multi-level warehouse in downtown Boise, we loved it. Built in 1961, it had a long history. Our discussions with the owners of the building were professional, the city was easy to work with, and we leased the building. We brought it up to code, and turned it into a twelve- thousand-square-foot studio.

Why did we need so much space? It all started with art. At an early age, I showed promise as a creative type. Drawing came naturally to me. My brothers and I are all artistic, and our mother encouraged us in this, as in all our endeavors. She let us paint on our walls in our rooms as children—she wanted to see color! In junior high and high school, I took piano lessons and every art class available. I learned painting, sculpture, studio art, and advanced drawing. Nampa High School has an amazing art program and a lot of talented students. But even though my future in art seemed promising, certain people repeatedly told me there is no money in art. They said going into the industry was a bad idea, and artists were outdated. I took this to heart, went to North Idaho College, and studied finance. It was quite a leap, but I followed the money.

In college, as I looked at my future syllabus one day, I realized I had made a mistake. I had no interest in finance. I kept at it anyway, but even after I started working in the industry, my interests were elsewhere. I knew that the career I had chosen was not a good fit for me. I wasn’t aggressive enough, and I was forever doodling on the sides of my reports, drawing portraits of clients and fellow workers. I created comic books, and drew temporary tattoos on myself under the sleeves of my sleek business suit. Always daydreaming, I couldn’t wait to get home and finish whatever painting I was working on. My wife Jamie and I both paint, and I think her work is amazing, surreal, beautiful. When we bought our home in 2002, we were both twenty-two. It was a delight to create our own space, in which we could live and paint and raise a family. Art filled our walls, including the art of our sons. Every day when I went to work, I wanted to be home. The art was calling me.
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Posted on by Rosphine Coby / Comments Off on Grandma

As hours passed,
As days passed,
As weeks passed,
I sat by your side.
Sometimes with my head bowed down.
I felt no movement from your body.
As I took your hand in mine,
I gave you warmth. Continue reading

A Snow Sun

Posted on by Sean Sheehan / Comments Off on A Snow Sun

When Sun Valley celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1986, the resort hired my dad to build a snow sculpture of its logo.

The sculpture was such a big hit that he has built one in front of the Sun Valley Lodge every year since then.

My dad, Mark Sheehan, is an architectural metal sculptor. I started hanging out with him as he built the sun in 2002, when I was two years old, playing in the snow and helping to hold the hose. By the time I was eight, I started being really helpful by removing blocks of snow that were cut away from the sculpture by pushing them into the pond, which is still my favorite part of the process. I also mix slush and pack snow onto the face to add detail. Every year, I look forward to making a snow sculpture with him. Continue reading

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Artful Mountain Home

Posted on by Chris DeVore / Comments Off on Artful Mountain Home

It’s not unusual for those looking down from Interstate 84 at seventy-nine m.p.h., or weekend visitors seeking a convenient bed-and-breakfast, or map-loving friends and family who only reach us by email, telephone, or text, to ask, “Why Mountain Home?”(1)

I recently realized that this simple question represents two distinct camps. One wants to know why anybody would move to Mountain Home on purpose, while the other is interested in how the town earned its name. One says, “I can understand if you were stationed there.” The other asks, “Is it maybe irony, like referring to your six-five, three-hundred-pound uncle as Tiny Trev?”

To the naysayers camp, the answer is that Mountain Home, at least to this man, is like the best kind of woman. Since this awkward simile has yet to achieve its demonstrative goal, even though I’ve tried it a minimum of three times, I’m taking the only logical next step. I’m doubling down, putting it in writing, where it can once and for all be justified, seen for the genius that it is, prove my wife wrong, and be redeemed—which will no doubt redeem me.

Mountain Home is not quite front-cover Seattle or Portland or Boise. Those cities force you to dream up all sorts of life-ever-after from across the room, only to disappoint you when they can’t live up to your impossible expectations. Similarly, the best kind of woman is subtle. You notice she’s attractive, but you can still breathe, speak in complete sentences, and use the logic you brought. You laugh at her slightly self-degrading jokes, share chips and salsa littered with cilantro, learn you have the same interests—the Snake River, the Dunes, Bruneau Canyon, religious experiences all. The more you are with her, the more beautiful she becomes; the more you laugh at yourself, rather than going home self-conscious. You love her blemishes, but you keep your head. You become less judgmental, better in general. She embraces you, defends you, calls you her own. She stops you when you’re going too far. She filters you from the world and the world from you. Mountain Home, like this best kind of woman, is redemption. Continue reading

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