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Could this unused piece of art in Buckner-Webb Park become Boise’s most photographed icon?

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August. 6 — Matthew Mazzuta gazed out of his fifth-floor window at Hyatt Place Boys Downtown and watched a stream of people climb up to the Gentle Breeze, the masterpiece he designed for Sherry Buckner Webb Park.


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The 23-foot-high pink tree features leaves that flutter in the wind. Three swing rope benches allow park visitors at Eleventh and Bannock Streets a place to sit.

“There are forever people who go up and sit on it and use it just as I would have it,” Mazotta, an artist from New York State, said over the phone. “It reaffirms its success.”

The conversation took place Thursday, just hours prior the park is dedicated to Buckner-Webb, a fifth-generation Idaho native and the first black woman to serve in the Idaho legislature.

Listen to Boiseans

Mazotta said he developed the idea following speaking to dozens of people in Boise. A frequent thread he heard was the connection of the Boiseans to the surrounding hills, mountains, and the Boise River.

“It was significant to work downtown, but on your lunch burst go fishing or go to the hills,” he said. “And I kept hearing this over and over again.”

People told Mazzotta that they didn’t want the piece of art to end up withdrawing from Boise’s historical roots and end up being a pair of cowboy boots or something from the Old West. He wanted something that would really pop next to Building Eleven and the New Building in Idaho.

“I think the project sings more because of its location, between this brand unused building surrounded by a few other buildings that have a few floors,” Mazzuta said.

He did not want the tree to look like an artificial tree, which is why it is not green. He said he wanted something bold and chose the color pink following looking at the pictures of the cherry trees in bloom.

Buckner-Webb considers themselves an icon

Hundreds of people came to the park on Thursday afternoon for the dedication. People applauded as Buckner-Webb walked down real steps leading from Building Eleven and Idaho to the lawn in the park.

Doug Holloway, the city’s director of parks and amusement, predicted the tree would become one of the city’s most photographed symbols of parks.

“It’s something we’ll be elated of for a lengthy time,” Holloway said.

Major Lauren MacLean praised Buckner Webb.

“I look through this crowd and see so many people, myself included, whose lives have been marked and changed forever by your guidance, direction, encouragement, chastisement, and everything else,” MacLean said. “Because you know who we are, what we can do, who we should be, and you aid us get there.”

Council Speaker Elaine Clegg said she first met Buckner Webb when, at age 16, she attended a civil rights protest on the steps of the state Capitol.

“It was the first time I realized that from Boise, Idaho, there were things that people could do here that would make a difference, not just for our city or state but for our nation, and that I was watching someone going to aid me be a pioneer in it Clegg said. “I wasn’t mistaken, right?”

Participation in civil rights, service

Buckner-Webb, whose family has lived in Boise for 115 years and whose first name is Sha-REE, learned about loathe at an beforetime age. At the age of six, when her family lived on North 19th Street, her mother opened the fore door while the family was having dinner and saw what looked like flames across the street.

“There was a (4-foot) cross burning in our fore lawn,” Buckner Webb told the statesman in 1998. This was my mother’s real incentive to get involved in civil rights.”

The incident and her mother’s defiant reaction had a vast impact on Buckner-Webb, but with the exception of a cross-burning episode and an occasional racist note from other kids, Buckner-Webb has fond memories of playing on Grand Avenue and later in Boise’s North End. With so few blacks in Boise, most of her childhood friends were white.

Buckner-Webb helped create the Museum of Black History in Julia Davis Park. She was the first black member of the Boys Junior League and sat on the boards of several groups, including the Women and Children Coalition, the Idaho Anne Frank Center for Human Rights, the Andros Center for Public Policy, the local NAACP and Planned Parenthood of Idaho. .

She served as the Democratic Representative of the State from 2010 to 2012 and then as a Senator until 2020.

She is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Western Idaho College and runs a consulting firm for training on local diversity for business leaders.

Buckner-Webb is also a member of the city task force at Erma Hayman House, a cultural site that the city acquired in 2018 as part of an effort to uphold parts of the ethnically diverse neighborhood along River Street, near downtown.

She is also a longtime jazz and pop singer.

The park’s name was chosen following the city solicited ideas from the public earlier this year. The Boise Parks and Recreation Committee and the Boise City Council finalized the selection.

After the dedication ceremony, during an interview, Buckner-Webb said she was humbled to honor her hometown.

“I am amazed. I am delighted. I am amazed,” she said following dozens of people came and hugged her and thanked her for her contributions to the city. I’m not usually short on words, but I’m drenched in talk.

Buckner-Webb said she hopes the park will be a place where people can relax and socialize.

“I’m not trying to make her happy,” she said. “I’m just trying to make it the welcoming place the Boys were when they were growing up. That’s who we were and I think we still are.”

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