On a crisp fall day in Downtown Boise, artist Em Marquis Brown is taking in the scene.  Like many people, she does her best to capture the image of the streetscape with broad afternoon light and golden leaves.

But where the average person might pull out their cellphone and snap a quick iPhone shot for their Instagram feed, Brown takes a little more time.

Instead of putting fingers to glass, she puts brush to canvas.

“I’m out here today painting in oils of this colorful place,” she said. “I really enjoy it.”

Brown followed her daughter to Boise a few years ago after making her living as an established artist in the Boston area.

On Thursday she was working near Boise City Hall doing a rendition of the historic Adelmann Building at Idaho St. and Capitol Blvd.

“The architecture is so beautiful. It’s not a style I’m familiar with – and this old antique car mural fascinates me,” she said.

Much like her work of art is made up of an array of colors and textures, the building is a mashup of different architectural styles.  The Idaho Architecture Project says the building rose up in 1902 in the Romanesque style, with touches of German architecture. On the corner is a large Pagoda turret with Chinese influence, a relic of the Fong’s Tea Garden that once inhabited the building. The classic car mural on the side was painted in 2000 by the Letterheads.

She started on the painting earlier this week, and she says the project will take her “a few hours and many years of experience” to complete.

With a paint-stained smock and mittens to keep her hands warm, Brown works away dabbing colors, making adjustments and bringing the scene to life. Downtown workers stop and tell her how they like the painting. 

Her works are only available once. No copies. 

“They are all originals. When they buy my work, the know it’s one of a kind.”


She says her time in Boise over the past two years have been fruitful.

“I’m enjoying it very much. I’ve been involved in a great art community – I set up my classes and enjoy teaching.”