May 20, 2004
QUEST TO DISCOVER DAD FORMS GENESIS FOR EXHIBIT AT BOISE STATE
An unusual exhibit combining a book, letters, photos, postcards and other memorabilia with the written and spoken word will be displayed in the Boise State University Visual Arts Center Gallery 2 (Hemingway Center) June 1-20. Sponsored by the Idaho Center for the Book, the exhibit, titled "... (dad) ..." is free. The gallery is open from 10 a.m-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon-5 p.m. Saturday-and noon-5 p.m. on Father's Day (June 20).
The exhibit was organized by Dwayne Blackaller, a May 2004 Boise State English graduate who grew up knowing his biological father, David Marcum, only as the man in California who would send him cards, audio tapes and letters. Although he knew that Marcum was his biological father, Blackaller felt a close affinity to his adoptive dad and didn't pursue anything beyond a long-distance friendship.
In 1988, when Blackaller was 12, Marcum died of AIDS. A few years later Blackaller received a package from San Francisco - a battered, light blue box filled with a hodgepodge of his father's possessions. A diary. Letters written to and received from his mother when she and Marcum were in high school. A map of the stars showing one Marcum had named for his son. Bits and pieces of a life Blackaller wasn't yet ready to examine. "I already had a dad," Blackaller explained. So the box went away. Except for an occasional glance at it during a move or other activity, it stayed out of sight until last year, when Blackaller, who with his wife is expecting his first child in June, was finally ready to meet the father he never really knew.
Blackaller struggled to find the words explaining the motivation behind the project. "After I got the box .... It's peculiar how genetics play into who you are. Both of us have the same painting by Maxfield Parrish. And it's things like, he's a graphic designer and the rest of my family is not particularly artistic." This was of particular interest to Blackaller, who is a well-known actor in area theatres, including Boise Contemporary Theatre and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
"He was also a writer like me," Blackaller continued. "He had the same sort of cerebral but emotional voice."
A particularly poignant piece of the exhibit is an audio tape where Marcum described for his son some cliff dwellings in Arizona, telling him he hoped that one day he would be able to see them for himself. As a boy, Blackaller routinely recorded over his father's tapes; this time he recorded the "Ghostbusters" soundtrack, but a short piece of Marcum's original greeting remains at the end.
Visitors to the exhibit will be able to hear the tape as it reaches the end of Side 1. Marcum's last words to his son are, "I'll see you on the other side. 'Bye."
The exhibit combines an audio commentary on tape with exhibits of the objects in the box, an essay written by Blackaller about the box's contents and facts about his father's life. Also available at the exhibit is "Especially for Dads," information from the Mother Goose Programs to introduce fathers with young children to literacy, language and learning through great children's literature. An exhibition catalogue with a tie-dyed cover and a binding scented with patchouli oil is available from the Boise State Bookstore for $5 plus shipping and handling.
Exhibit Photos and Audio
The Blue Box [MP3]
The Tattered Letters [MP3]
The Star Map [MP3]
The Ruined Cassette [MP3]
KTRV Fox 12 TV News Clip
You'll need Real Player to view the video.
Last Updated 8/23/04