Members of Preservation Idaho (PI), whose mission is “Preserving Idaho’s historic places through collaboration, education, and advocacy,” have been hard at work on the Boise Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) campus. Since 2013, former PI president John Bertram has been heading a team of volunteers on restoring the VAMC’s historic Surgeon’s Quarters. Restoration of the structure, built in 1864 and having housed several of Fort Boise’s first chief medical officers in the late 1800s to early 1900s, is slated for completion in fall 2015, when it will act as new, long-term office space for facility administrators.
Free of charge, CTA Boise offers gallery walls on which local artists can display a collection of their work. The images are for sale and the space is open for public viewing during normal business hours. This quarter’s featured artist is Caldwell, ID-born and renowned Idaho artist Charles Gill, who, following a tour led by Bertram, painted several landscapes of the Surgeon’s Quarters. To support PI, Gill donated an edition of 25 hand-printed drypoint engravings of “The Surgeon’s Quarters on October 22, 2013,” which were offered to benefactors donating $250 to the restoration effort.
As a friend of Preservation Idaho, CTA loaned its Boise office space, located on the 8th floor of downtown’s Zions Bank building, to the organization to host “an evening of art and architecture.” On Oct. 22, 2014 — coincidentally, one year to the day after Gill created the aforementioned piece — CTA hosted nearly 100 visitors, including: Gill, Bertram, volunteers with Preservation Idaho, reps from the City of Boise, members of the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and many local art lovers. Catering was provided by Incredible Edibles and beverages were graciously donated by Boise Brewing, Bitner Vineyards, and Snake River Winery.
Bertram thanked everyone in attendance and spoke excitedly about the renovation that has accounted for much of his time of late. “Numerous donations and volunteer labor are driving the project,” he said. Bertram also created a slideshow that ran throughout the evening featuring historic images of Fort Boise, on which the VA campus now sits; and photos of the Surgeon’s Quarters taken over the years and during its recent renovations:
Gill regaled the crowd with a story of his unexpected introduction to and subsequent enjoyment of commemorating a “clickety-clack through the tunnel and around the bend of time.”
“I thought it was a splendid event. I was kept busy the whole time visiting with a very engaged audience who were interested in both the art on the walls and the historic preservation project that the art was at least nominally about.” Gill said afterward. “I think many artists and preservationists have a good deal in common.”
Ten of Gill’s engravings were given to project donors during the event; two more were “sold” the following day, upping the event’s total donation to $3,000. A handful of the prints remain available to interested donors. To learn more about its work on the VAMC’s Surgeon’s Quarters and other restoration projects, to make a donation, or to attain a copy of “The Surgeon’s Quarters on October 22, 2013,” contact Preservation Idaho at 208.424.5111 or email@example.com.
To see more work from Charles Gill or to purchase any of his art, visit Boise’s Stewart Gallery or call 208.433.0593. Or, between now and January, stop by and see the Gill exhibit on display at CTA Boise. (Remember, all the works on display there are also available for purchase.)
Historical and renovation photos courtesy of John Bertram and Preservation Idaho.