Idaho artists and musicians continue to perform, exhibit and even occasionally thrive, here and out of town.
The Inkom guitar artist, Kade Isakson, is performing in Texas playing solo and sitting in and/or warming up for rock and country bands. Perhaps soon, he will warm up for Willie Nelson. (That’s where I first saw Emmy Lou Harris.) On Valentine’s Day, Kade’s mother, Nichole Isakson, joined him for two shows in Luckenback, Texas, at the Lone Star Bar and Grill. There is a video of the performance on Facebook of one of Kade’s stirring original songs, “Yodel #5.”
Local veteran bands like Soul Full of Blues, a band that does covers and originals, and Flash Drive, formerly known as Hot Flash — a cover band — continue to keep a busy schedule in the area. For jazz, there is Rail City Jazz led by Keith Ward, and Best by Yesterday, a blues-rock band. There will be more talented bands emerging in Pocatello.
Portneuf Valley Brewing is looking for talent according to owner, Penny Pink.
“Rock, blues, pop are the main genres that I get a draw with,” Pink says. “If people email an EPK or links to their music to email@example.com, I can take a listen and do the booking from there.”
The last Wednesday of every month features a poetry reading at Gate City Fine Arts.
There is always an art exhibit in town. The Oboler Library currently exhibits “Patterns of Change” by painter Christine Fortner. Her focus is on domestic and wild animals, and the exhibit captures portraits of both from Alaska and Idaho. Fortner deserves an audience and the exhibit ends on Saturday.
Another notable exhibit is at the John Davis Gallery in the Fine Arts Building.
It is called “All About Drawing: Hindsight 2020” and features the work of Anne Merkley. Her show is a tribute to the late Idaho State University art teacher John B. Davis, for whom the gallery is named, and also provides some retrospective insight into the growth of Anne Merkley as an artist. It contains illustrations of cell growth, still lifes, charcoal drawings of nudes, and portraits. It also includes work by some of her students. The show manifests Merkley’s belief “in the value of drawing as a way to engage with the physical, tangible world in the midst of an increasingly virtual reality, as a counterbalance to dangerously rapid technological change, and as a pursuit of truth and excellence in an era of misinformation and lies.”
That sounds quite complex, but Merkley’s goal to “engage with the physical” is evident from her exhibit — and from a large painting on the third floor of the Pond Student Union showing an aspen forest with a mountain in the distance. Anne Merkley has a gift for photographic paintings with a depth of field capturing the “real world.” One statement from the exhibit, however, suggests that Anne Merkley soon discovered she had to reconcile the duality of realism and abstraction in art, and needed to find for herself the “reality within abstraction and the abstract in reality.”
Does she succeed?
I will leave it to the judgment of patrons who visit the exhibit, but Anne Merkley, who helped start Pocatello’s First Friday Art Walk, has a strong sense of craft and vision. I hope in the future, she gets a more detailed article.
Her varied exhibit ends Thursday.
Michael Corrigan of Pocatello is a San Francisco native and a retired Idaho State University English and speech communication instructor. He studied screenwriting at the American Film Institute and has authored seven books, many about the Irish American experience.