Pushing back from the table at Goldy’s in Boise, Idaho, where we devoured a bountiful breakfast on our snowy day off wasn’t easy. After all, the coffee was warm, and the server kept pouring! (Read more about Goldy’s here.) But the urge to explore downtown Boise kicked in, and we found ourselves on Idaho Street intrigued by a sign that read The Original Ward Hooper Gallery & Vintage Swank.
Of all of Idaho’s artists, we were perhaps most familiar with Ward Hooper whose colorful graphic posters of national parks had struck our fancy at gift shops across America. But an art gallery in downtown Boise? What luck!
The gallery itself exuded vintage vibes. Filled with carefully arranged vignettes of collections — softballs, suitcases, old metal toys, fish camp stuff, and you-name-it — the shop forms a most appropriate backdrop for the stylized drawings we admire from Hooper.
In fact, the gallery itself could be a stand-alone antiques shop if it weren’t for the main attraction — Hooper’s art.
Ward Hooper himself was in that morning (more good fortune!), busy wrapping a canvas for shipping. We talked to him briefly, sharing our appreciation for his creativity and productive volume of work, and he replied with comments about the Idaho he loves. We picked up on one of his favorite subjects for art: McCall, Idaho, a resort on the Payette Lake, known for its Winter Carnival and ice sculptures, a place we had recently visited.
But a closer look at his collections revealed his vast repertoire. We even found artwork celebrating events in Tennessee — Moon Pie festival in Bell Buckle and Mule Day in Columbia.
It was hard for two lovers of vintage collections and tasteful displays to get out of there before wearing out our welcome, so we took one last look.
And loved what we saw. It’s safe to say this is one of our favorite all-time art galleries — colorful, approachable, and reminiscent of simpler times. Not only that, there’s something in every price range from magnets, postcards, stationery, and giclee prints to full-size canvases.
On the website, artwork for sale is grouped by collections: Across America, Dogs & Cats, Collegiate, Personality and Portraits, McCall, and Boise. In fact, if you’re a fan of either the Boise State Broncos or the University of Idaho Vandals, Ward has you covered! Don’t see what you’re looking for? The artist works on commission, too.
Before we left, we asked Ward about his current projects. I’m working on a piece for the local Red Cross chapter, he said. And we wondered if this, too, might become something with national connections. Remains to be seen.
Don’t wait ’til you get stranded by a snowstorm in Boise. Just head to Idaho Street and check out The Art of Ward Hooper Gallery. We dare you to leave empty-handed!
The Art of Ward Hooper Gallery
745 West Idaho Street
For more on what we’ve stumbled upon in Idaho and Washington, click on the Inland Northwest page at the top of this blog. Thanks!