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  • Anna Webb

Article from the Idaho Statesman: As Garden City draws hipsters, art lovers find new options. Will r

On Saturday, Oct. 14, Jodi Eichelberger will meet up with a pack of bicyclists in Garden City. It’s the last Artbike tour of the year. Eichelberger will take the cyclists through industry- and warehouse-filled blocks of Garden City to local artists’ studios.

“People tell me, ‘I go by this building every day. I didn’t know art was created here,’ ” Eichelberger said. And he’s talking about people who live in the neighborhood.

When you think of Garden City, even residents tend to think first of commercial Chinden Boulevard, Expo Idaho, aging mobile homes in the east or high-end subdivisions in the west. They don’t always think of an arts community.

But some artists and civic and business leaders seek to change that. Art-related small businesses are turning to Garden City as a less-costly alternative to Boise. As they move in, Idahoans and visitors are getting more places to discover local art. As cafes and wine bars open too, the overall vibe becomes increasingly fashionable.

The evolution could mean that Treasure Valley residents’ perception of Garden City as trailer-home central might one day change to an image of Garden City as a center of artists, bohemians and wineries.

Take East Coast-by-way-of-California glass artist Brigette Nelson, 29. She recently opened The Garden City Projects, an airy storefront at 108 W. 33rd St., the former home of Reuseum, the surplus store now at 3131 W. Chinden Blvd., and later a piano-repair business.

Nelson’s shop includes her studio and a store where she sells her work — kiln-formed fused-glass items that sell from $10 to $200 or more — and that of other artists to walk-in customers. She has installed a small skate ramp and rents space to a barber.

“People come in and say, ‘I didn’t know this place existed.’ ” she said, echoing Eichelberger.

Glass artist Brigette Nelson, who started Garden City Projects, sits on The Vanilla Bean, a skateboard ramp she and friends built inside the shop. Garden City Projects also offers performances by bands and other events.

Photographs by Kyle Green

Among her neighbors are a print shop with massive presses; Old Payette’s brewery, where experimental batch brews are made; a crossfit gym; and a space where five artists keep their studios, camouflaged behind an old electrical repair sign.

Nelson’s store traffic is light. “I can be in my shop all day, every day, and no one will come in,” she said.

But a strong community means she does not depend on foot traffic alone. Nelson got a commission from a fellow artist nearby to make chandeliers after the artist happened to see her work.

“People are open and resources are here,” Nelson said. “I can use my friend’s blacksmith shop, or borrow someone’s kiln, or make something for someone in my shop.”

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Written by Anna Webb

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 6:29 PM

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