Boise Art

Accordion Postcard - More Than Just Black and White

Chamber of Commerce Description

How you look at a piece of art determines what you see in it. In most cases this statement applies mostly in the figurative sense. With Boise's Penny Postcard, however, what you see literally depends on where you stand when you look at it.

Created by Mark Baltes in 2004, this artwork adorns the northwest corner of Boise's City Hall building, in close proximity to the fountain at the corner of Capitol Boulevard and Idaho Street. The enamel-on-steel fabrication features a series of raised panels that make it look different if viewed straight on versus off to the right.

If viewed straight on, the postcard-shaped piece displays old black-and-white photos of Downtown Boise from the early part of the last century. Notable images include Capitol Boulevard as seen from the Capitol dome, the Union Block, the original library, the first bridge over the Boise River, and the old Gothic-style City Hall. But don't be content to stand back and take it in from afar. There are lots of interesting little details that await your closer inspection.

If you walk over toward the fountain and look at this art, the angle of the raised panels gives it a completely different personality. Instead of a colorless look at the past, this view gives us a sunny, warm, and colorful look at Boise that reminds us that modern Boise continues to grow and prove itself to be one of the most dynamic cities in the country.

My Description

Every time I see this thing, I'm reminded of how dumb postcards were. Or, I guess I should say how dumb they are, because you can still send them. Think about it. When was the last time you sent someone a postcard? You can't remember, can you. The only people who use them nowadays are people who want money from you, like the dentist, the optometrist, the urologist, and the local government. If I see a postcard in the mail, I immediately shred it, burn the pieces, and then bury the smoldering pile in the back yard. A man can only take so much of them postcard senders causing him pain and then making him pay for it. After the postcard is underground, it's like it never arrived, so I never have to worry about things like cavities, obstructed urethras, or taxes.

Admit it. The only time you would ever consider sending a postcard is when you're on vacation. That's when you might buy a postcard with a picture of some awesome landmark or activity or nude beach on it and then send it to a friend just to show him what a great time you're having in the tropics while he's still at work. And that, of course, would make you a douche. So for the good of everyone, resist the temptation and hope like I do that the postcard goes extinct soon, completely replaced by that wonderful thing we call email. Then we can look at the Penny Postcard piece and talk about how sucky the old days were with their postcards, their rotary phones, their AM radios, and their home milk delivery.


Boise-the-Great Name: Accordion Postcard
Real Name: Penny Postcard: A Hometown Greeting
Type: Enamel on steel
Artist: Mark Baltes
Completed: 2004
Where: Exterior northwest wall of Boise City Hall

View Larger Map