Monday, March 20, 2023

TREEFORT 11 / WINDOW WALK—The Evening Class Profile of Walter Gerald

It’s the Window Walk on First Thursday that, for me, annually launches Treefort where muralists and downtown businesses combine forces to offer Boiseans a street gallery throughout the month of March. This year Treefort partnered with 30+ artists to ramp up the Treefort spirit and get the party started. 

Treefort does an open call and application process for muralists who submit their portfolios so that the organizers of Artfort can glean a general sense of their style. Once selected, they are then paired with a venue. Then it’s up to the artist and the venue to decide on the content of the mural. For Treefort 10, Walter Gerald was paired with Barbarian and for Treefort 11, along with Quincee Lark, Gerald provided the window work for the Bus Station, one of Treefort’s newest music venues. 

Walter Gerald is an animator and illustrator based in Boise, Idaho. Credits for his formal education go to The University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, The School of Motion, and Youtube University. When not immersed in the next great visual storytelling adventure, he enjoys cycling, drinking wine on patios and the consumption of baked goods.

When I spoke to Gerald last year regarding his weird western offering, he commented: “As far as the content of my murals go, they are loosely inspired by vintage western and dinosaur adventure pulps and comics. They tie back to a sense of adventure and place, being out here in the (somewhat) American West in a different form than what we know it as today.

"Another part of the art deals with how the ideal of the American West has changed over time. In a lot of these older comics, cowboys were portrayed as hero conquerors, taming wild lands and wildlife, defeating the bad guys and winning the affection of cowgirls along the way. I think we all know by now that this narrative is all fiction and brings up and largely ignores a lot of complicated history that comes along with the real story behind a lot of these comics- Mistreatment and massacre of Native Americans, misogynistic portrayals of women, just to name a few. 

“It was my aim in this art to take the cowboy characters out of their original hero context, placing them with dinosaurs to show that they are both items of pure fantasy and entertainment. Yes cowboys and dinosaurs were real, but the media's portrayal of them both are very similar. Anyway, I still have a lot of learning to do as a citizen of the west, and i hope to keep doing so through my artwork.” 

For Treefort 11, Gerald and collaborator Lark have taken the ghostly reminder of the Greyhound Bus Station, pushed it through a time vortex, and emerged with images of a multi-eyed bus driver advising passengers to hold onto their hats as he cruises through the Treefort experience. This speaks to Treefort’s expanding vision, which matches its expanding range. I can no longer talk about the Treefort “village”; it’s Treefort City from hereon in, baby!!


Artists: © Walter Gerald & Quincee Lark.  Photos: © Michael Hawley & Michael Guillen