Boise River Diversion Dam

The Language of Color, Featuring Hugh Merrill in collaboration with Janet Kaufman

Tuesday, June 16
6:30pm – 8:30pm

Surel’s Place: 212 E. 33rd St Garden City, ID
Free, All ages welcome

Chameleon Arts and Youth Development Director Hugh Merrill, renowned studio and community artist, and tenured professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, is Surel’s Place’s artist-in- residence this May-June. With an MFA from Yale and an established career as a celebrated and influential artist, Mr. Merrill’s work has been exhibited and collected by museums and galleries worldwide.

Mr. Merrill spends much of his practice focused on community art projects that are steeped in his belief “that artists should enter society and create positive change, as well as retreat into their studios to articulate their own private voices.”

During his residency, Merrill will partner with Janet Kaufman, professor at the University of Utah and co-author of The Grump Meter, A Family Tool for Anger Control. Together they will facilitate multiple community projects/workshops focused on the intersections of art, feelings, behavior, and identity inspired by Ms. Kaufman’s book. Workshops will focus on self-portraits and poetry, some of which will become part of large-scale Grump Meter banners to be displayed in public spaces throughout Boise. Ms. Kaufman’s work with The Grump Meter has been successfully carried out in multiple communities and has been praised by schools, parents, government offices, and corporations alike.

During his residency, Mr. Merrill will also be working in the studio to produce new work inspired by his experiences here.

At heart, the Grump Meter is, an art project: youth and adults make their own Grump Meters, and each one is different and creates pathways to new observation, inquiry, insight, and connection. Making Grump Meters together gets people of all ages reflecting on their own lives artistically and even playfully. The Grump Meter is a colored ladder, a visual representation of mood. It serves as tool to self-regulate emotion and as a reminder to stay calm (blue) and prevent the climb up to explosive anger (red). Discussions about the Grump Meter aim to teach people how to deescalate before they start climbing the ladder.

Here is a partial list of organizations Chameleon Arts and Youth Development, Mr. Merrill and Ms. Kaufman are working with during their collaboration: YMCA, ANSER Public Charter School, Borah High School, Roosevelt Elementary, Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, Boise Bicycle Project, Boise State Writing Project, The Boys & Girls Club, Easter Seals, and Boise teachers and school counselors.

The Language of Color is the final event culminating Hugh Merrill’s residency and will exhibit the work produced both by Mr. Merrill and the community. Mr. Merrill and Ms. Kaufman will also discuss their public art project in addition to inviting patrons to participate in a related hands-on activity.

This residency is sponsored in part by a Boise Weekly Cover Auction Grant. For more information visit