Gentle Breeze

Matthew Mazzotta's "Gentle Breeze" public art concept for the new downtown park in west downtown at the intersection of 11th and Bannock streets in Boise. 

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BOISE — Downtown Boise’s newest park will be getting a shade tree, but it’s not what you might expect.

Earlier this month, Capital City Development Corporation, the city's urban renewal agency, selected the concept for the public art installation at the small park set to be constructed at 11th and Bannock streets.

Boise City Council on Tuesday approved an amended funding agreement with CCDC for the project, and is expected to give final approval next month, according to a statement from Boise City Department of Arts & History Outreach & Education Coordinator Jennifer Yribar.

The art selection, called “Gentle Breeze,” was designed by New York-based artist Matthew Mazzotta and will feature a 23-foot tall artificial tree with pink leaves that move in the wind with swinging benches underneath. It is expected to be installed next spring. 

The project will be paid for by urban renewal funds through Capital City Development Corporation, which is funded by increases in tax revenue in a specific geographic area for a set number of years. The project was originally estimated to cost roughly $200,000, CCDC approved a price increase to $350,000 in July.

Mazzotta developed two concepts for the project after meeting with Boiseans to discuss their community in temporary public spaces for listening, which he calls “outdoor living rooms.” Along with "Gentle Breeze," he also developed another concept called “Night Light,” with an open house structure and brightly colored trees surrounding it, which light up at night.

In order to choose a design, the city collected public input from roughly 170 Boiseans on their preferred design. A review of those comments obtained by the Idaho Press show a vast majority of support for "Gentle Breeze," but there were also a few dozen responses from Boiseans who did not like either choice and would have preferred CCDC select an Idaho-based artist for the design.

The city earlier this year also selected a New York artist for a sculptor to be installed at Boise's historic Hayman House. Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell, who developed the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden in New York and wrote a book about 20th century African American life in her hometown of Yonkers, New York, was awarded $100,000 in June for the project.

"For each artist selection, our department follows a robust public process," Yribar said in a statement. 

A committee helps select the artist for each project, she said, which represents members of the local arts community, the city's Arts & History Commission and Arts & History Advisory Team, and, when applicable, project stakeholders.

Boise's Public Art Program Manager Karl LeClair will present during the city council work session Tuesday to seek affirmation of the direction for Gentle Breeze, Yribar said.

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