On Homemaking, Hot Springs and Historic Preservation

So, here I am, writing my first blog post for Preservation Idaho in true 'Amy' fashion.  It's 8pm on a Tuesday night and I've already got my 'jamas on.  I'm cuddled on my couch with a Pillow Pet tucked underneath one arm, my first-grader's spelling papers scattered around me amidst broken pretzel bits and half drunk bottles (of MILK, mind you).  I've got some stale pink Dubble Bubble in my mouth and dinner's dirty dishes still in the sink, but I'm content and coming off my post GLEE high.  I'm writing this on my husband's work laptop because our terrible toddler dropped my new-ish laptop one to many times on it's head and it's screen is now turquoise and it's 'Z' key is missing.  My slightly messy and cluttered world is enhanced by my stellar hubbie and two daughters, Lucy and Alice.  I'm a radical homemaker, a writer, and a preservationist.  Here's how I got here.

My daughter Alice and I in our Boise home

I grew up in southern Idaho and was captain of the Burley High School Bobcats cheerleading squad, where I performed in drama club competitions and saw All The Presidents Men for the first time in government class.  I went on to get two bachelors degrees at the University of Idaho in Moscow, in public relations and American history, where I fell in love with baseball, art, and my husband.  After graduation I moved to Oregon to learn the ropes of the museum field, working both at the Portland Art Museum and OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  There, I fell in love with walk-up brownstones, urban planning, and beer.  After Eric finished his PhD studies at Oregon State University, we moved to Minneapolis, where I got started on my graduate degree and got pregnant with baby girl #1.  Both were fantastic, and I discovered that I really could handle this motherhood gig while feeding the academic in me.  It was there, in one of the greatest Midwestern American cities, that I fell head over heels for architecture, even though I'd signed up for a degree in art history.  Lucky for me, my university agreed this was a good fit, and gave me a mentor to guide me.  It was a fairly new program, and a liberal one, so I was able to tailor classes and internships and papers to my liking, and I liked it very much.  In fact, I ended up graduating with a focus on American vernacular architecture and museum studies.  My thesis research was on the architecture, space and history of the American funeral home, using one particular Minneapolis family business as a study.  I did, however, tour at least 75 different mortuaries in several different American states, often with my little Lucy in her Baby Bjorn on my chest and someone's dearly departed in the other room.  Somewhat by default, I became the death art historian around town and worked at Lakewood Cemetery as a tour guide for a bit, before getting hired as a curator for the Minneapolis Public Library.

My daughter Lucy, downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, modeling urban renewal

Dream jobs in Idaho arose, and my hubs got hired by Boise State University and I as Associate Curator for the Boise Art Museum (BAM).  My first day of work there found me handling a Frank Lloyd Wright dining set with white cotton gloves and wide eyes.  At BAM, I learned a great deal about 20th century American art and design and conservation and documentation.  My stint there lasted about three years and another baby, when I was laid off, my position eliminated.  I suddenly found myself a stay at home mom and crushed about it.  I got over it quickly when I realized what a rare and wonderful opportunity I'd been handed to create my own career, involving more architecture, more freedom, and more working in my pajamas.

I was appointed by the mayor to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission, which I now am chair of.  I'm a freelance arts writer for the Boise Weekly, our local indie newspaper, and write about the indignities of motherhood with irreverence for Treasure Valley Family magazine.  I work a bit for the City of Boise Arts & History Department as a consultant and am also a member of the City's History Committee.  I've recently become quite active as a member of Preservation Idaho, acting now as chair of the new Idaho Modern advocacy committee, dedicated to studying and saving Idaho's mid-century modern architectural gems.  Also, I'm the 'new voice' of PI's social media, writing Twitter updates and Facebook statuses and, now, blogger.

Outside our little ranch house, Halloween 2010

Here, you can expect I might write about a funky roadside diner I found searching out a new Idaho hot springs and more philosophical notions about how we utilize architecture as functional art and make our way through spaces.  I might highlight an old, rusty neon sign and how it's an important icon of our landscape or take you on a tour of my modest ranch house on the Boise Bench.  Sometimes my posts may be more academic than fun, goofy than serious.  And they'll likely always include photos, as I can't live without my camera.  As you might be able to tell, I'm a bit eclectic, and I kind of like it that way.  I hope you do, too. 


Amy's blog

loved reading your background, about which I previously knew nothing. Also didn't know you'd been made the esteemed chair of HPC!!! Congrats. I look forward to reading more and joining you for a drink at the Modern to kick off your Modern work. Details again???

Thanks, Jennifer!

I don't know how or why I just saw your comment, but thanks for reading, Jen! This blogging gig for PI is pretty fun. So's the HPC gig. -Amy

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