The Student Union Permanent Art Collection was established to introduce students, faculty, staff and community members to a wide range of artwork from multiple traditions and periods in art history. Encompassing work from various artists with unique backgrounds and cultures, and employing numerous mediums, the collection creates a diverse mixture of style, content and subject matter. The Student Union Collection has within it sub-collections including the Dr. Richard H. Libby Collection and the “Art Mom” Collection. Also included are many purchases as well as generous gifts from artists and the Boise State faculty.
“I want to show students at Boise State that a collection does not have to be one specific type of art, that it can be made with more than one media, that different styles and eras can be represented within a single collection.” – Dr. Richard H. Libby D.D.S.
Dr. Richard Libby is among Boise State University’s most generous donors of fine art. His valued charitable contributions offer the university’s student body the opportunity to witness firsthand a wide range of exemplary artwork, the likes of which might only be otherwise seen in world-class museums.
An alumnus of UC Berkley and a former dental faculty member of UCLA, Dr. Libby practiced dentistry in Palos Verdes, California, before relocating to Boise in 1997. After exploring the continent, he chose to reside in Boise for its metropolitan, albeit modest, population, its moderate weather, and above all, its university. With a passion for sports and a desire to meet people in a new town, he quickly became involved with the Boise State University Bronco Athletic Association. Soon thereafter, he became a member of the Board of Directors for eight years, serving as the association’s president for one year.
Dr. Libby’s passion for collecting art began over 35 years ago. While visiting an exhibition in Los Angles, a large framed artwork fell from the gallery wall hitting his right hand and causing permanent damage that ended his dental career. Ironically, he purchased that painting and continues to develop an impressive collection to this day.
A collector of art for the sheer sake of aestheticism, Dr. Libby says he never bought a piece for investment purposes. Rather, he is of the firm conviction that art should be loved for its qualities and not because of its monetary value. Therefore, his taste in art has never been confined to any particular medium or movement; it encompasses a wide array of work that is reflected in this collection. Among his favorite artists featured in the Student Union Building are Peter Max, Mark King, and Aldo Luongo. Other notable pieces in this collection include Neal Doty and Guillaume Azoulay, whose works are among the collections of European royals and institutions such as the Louvre. Due to the impressive appraisals of the Dr. Libby collection in the Student Union Building, it would only be fitting to say that his generosity has been priceless.
The Art Mom’s program was founded by Nan Rick around 1986 to supplement art education opportunities for children in Idaho schools. A true grass-roots organization, no one knows exactly how many parents were working at how may schools at the time, but the program now reaches all corners of the state, from Parma to Pocatello, Sun Valley to Boise, Meridian and North Idaho.
The intent of the program is to get parents into their children’s schools; once involved in the classroom, they typically become involved in other activities for the school’s well being. Rick’s program develops a sense of responsibility and ownership in the schools in which parents assist with volunteer services.
In Rick’s program, children are taught that art is one of the few non-judgmental areas in education – that all kids are equal and have an opportunity to succeed in art. They also learn problem-solving skills and how to approach problems from different angles.
The “Art Mom” Collection at the Boise State Student Union began in 1995 with a donation of a large-scale triptych titled Haunts by famed artist Fay Jones. Since then, the collection has expanded to include a large selection of prints from eastern Europe.