Garden City, The Surel Mitchell Live-Work-Create District, and Boise

GARDEN CITY

Surel’s Place is at the heart of the Surel Mitchell Live-Work-Create District in Garden City, Idaho. Garden City is small city that retains its own municipal government, despite the fact that it is surrounded by Boise.  Just steps away from Surel’s Place, the beautiful Boise River runs along the east side of town and connects us to Downtown Boise and the rest of the District via a well-maintained 25-mile paved bike path called The Greenbelt. The Greenbelt also offers birding, fishing, tubing, rafting and even surfing at the nearby whitewater park, just a three minute walk away.

The main boulevard through Garden City, Chinden, gets its name from the Chinese gardens that once lined this stretch of the river and provided vegetables and meat to the growing population in the valley and the nearby mining and timber operations. You can learn more about the city’s history in this Boise State Public Radio series.

Surel’s Place is located on the ancestral, cultural, traditional and unceded land of the Shoshone, Bannock and Northern Paiute people. Learn more about the Boise Valley People here.

Garden City musician and producer Steve Fulton (left) performs with Sean Hatton (center) and former Studio Artist-in-Residence Thomas Paul at a Surel’s Place fundraiser concert at The Sapphire Room, one of the music venues at the nearby Riverside Hotel. Photo by Winston Mitchell.

ABOUT THE LIVE-WORK-CREATE DISTRICT

The Surel District is a unique, creative hub for the Treasure Valley. Dozens of artists and makers live and/or work in the District, which is hemmed between the river and a 60-foot plateau that rises above Garden City and Downtown Boise that locals call The Bench.

In the blocks around Surel’s Place, you’ll find Telaya, Coiled and Split Rail wineries, Barbarian and Western Collective breweries, The Yardarm’s up-cycled shipping container-turned-bar, the old-school splendor of The Stagecoach steakhouse, authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at Wepa, the Sandbar and other restaurants at the Riverside Hotel, and some of the best coffee roasters around at Push and Pour Cafe — and much more.

The area is in rapid transition, with new condos and apartments replacing empty lots, industrial spaces and working class mobile homes and rentals. Surel’s Place collaborated with local business owners, residents and artists to launch the Garden City Placemaking Fund in 2022 to empower new opportunities for public art and creative placemaking in and around the District.

FIRST FRIDAY ART AND STUDIO STROLLS
Surel’s Place organizes First Friday Art and Studio Strolls throughout each year to support and promote the artists and venues in the District. Every other month from April through December, First Fridays generally include art openings and exhibitions at the Visual Art Collective and the Riverside Hotel and give visitors a chance to meet artists in their studios at collective spaces like Spaceport and the Common Well and at individual studios across The District. To learn more about the next First Friday, visit The LWC District First Friday Event Page on Facebook.

Viewers cast shadows on an outdoor art projection at a December 2022 First Friday event.
Viewers experience projection work by artists Jared Hallock and Ryan Donahue at the December 2022 First Friday. Photo by Christina Birkinbine.

DISTRICT HISTORY

In 1998, Surel built her home in Garden City where she would not only live but also create and share her art.  She became active in the community, serving on Garden City’s Planning & Zoning Commission, the Comprehensive Plan Committee and the city’s first Arts Commission. During these efforts, she introduced and championed the idea of designating a special area of the city as a “live, work, create district.”

In 2007, thanks to her efforts, the Garden City Council formally approved the creation of such a district between 32nd and 37th Streets on both sides of Chinden Blvd.  After her passing in 2011, the Garden City Council officially named the Live, Work, Create District in her honor.

BOISE

Boise is a small town with big city amenities, a sense of community, and easy access to the outdoors. Boise is Idaho’s Capitol and has nearly 250,000 residents; the surrounding valley adds 500,000 to the population. Boise has become increasingly diverse, and it is a refugee center for people from all over the world, which means we have everything from Halal groceries to Jewish Deli Days, from Vietnamese Phó to Lebanese restaurants.

Small neighborhoods are nestled around Boise, including a vibrant downtown filled with independent restaurants, bars, boutiques, and a Saturday farmer’s market that fills the streets with everything from flowers to artisan foods, farm-fresh produce to fine crafts.  There are First Thursday gallery strolls and venues for large and small live performances including plays,operas, dance, concerts, readings, and lectures. Downtown is also home to the Boise Art Museum, Boise Contemporary Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, The Log Cabin Literary Center, Radio Boise, and LED Dance Company.

Bogus Basin, Boise’s ski resort,  just a 30 minute drive away, offers downhill and Nordic skiing, including many lit trails for nighttime skiers. There is always something going on or a place to explore, and you needn’t be rich to take advantage of Boise’s offerings.

Clearly, we could go on and on and on, but we think it’s better to let Boise and its people speak for themselves. Below are useful links to help you familiarize yourself with Boise and Garden City as you consider becoming a Surel’s Place artist-in-residence.

The Boise Department of Arts and History offers much more information about the arts culture in the metro area. The department maintains an easy-to-navigate site that has information about Boise’s public arts program, cultural programs and history. Here you’ll find links to sites for all of Boise’s art museums, venues, and organizations. The department’s resource guide lists each of the organizations individually, by category.