Robert Benjamin “Bob” Neal was born a force of nature and a force of art in Conway, Ark., on Sept. 6, 1961. He wended his way through many states until landing in Boise, Idaho, in 1973.
Bob created a lot of art and he made a lot of mayhem. He made this world a better place and a most magical place. Because he was magic. And irascible. And enigmatic. And authentic. Bob Neal grabbed this world and shook it like a snow globe, making all of its beauty sift down on all of us. Bob died on Sept. 28, 2015. Now, his creative, witty genius self is shaking it up in heaven.
Because he was cut from a different cloth, he made everyone he touched different and better and “more than.” He challenged us and called on us to do something. He was known as “the underground mayor of Boise” because he knew everyone and called them all his friends, from CEOs to roaming vagabonds. He looked at the world through Bob Neal glasses and tried as best he could to help us see what he saw.
This website is dedicated to art the Bob Neal way. In addition to painterly fine art, Bob was dedicated to bringing art into the 21st century. He had a public access TV show, “The 21st Century Art Show with Modern Bob,” and interviewed local artists and art critics. A regular guest was Scarlett Jones, a.k.a. Jeanne Huff.
He also was the co-founder (along with Miss Jones/Huff) of “It’s Another Poetry Slam,” a nationally-sanctioned poetry slam that occurred monthly at The Funny Bone in Boise.
He also created Easter eggs printed on cardboard with nice-isms on the back (“You are so good looking,” “If I could, I would be just like you”), that he and Miss Jones would surreptitiously dispense during the spring. And valentines, too.
He had ideas. One was called “The Hobo Corporation.” He wanted to get a group of CEOs and homeless people to trade for a day, to video what happened and present it as an art installation. He also wanted the city to lend flower planters to homeless people who could plant vegetables in them.
One year, at Christmas time, Bob and Scarlett spent many evenings with a thermos of hot chocolate in the car, scouting out Christmas decorations. Not the gaudy, over-the-top ones, but the sweet, “we’re really trying here” ones.
Not every project was a success. For instance, Bob could never find the right kind of paper for making a gigantic pinwheel.
In addition to making art and being the most interesting person to sit next to at a party – or anywhere – Bob also was a legendary Ultimate Frisbee player and was an original Spud Boyz Spud Boy. He was a wickedly fast downhill skier and played tennis.
About 20 years before his death, Bob was hit with MS, multiple sclerosis. He found out after losing the sight in his right eye. It happened during the course of one day. At first, it scared him so much that he quit his job and waited to see what bad thing would happen next. His sight never returned, but overall his health did not deteriorate as rapidly as he feared.
He was able to do most everything he had always done, mostly. For awhile, anyway. But just not with the same abandon.
He met his wife, Jeanne, the love of his life, right before his 41st birthday. She was his neighbor, two doors down. They got married at The Gamekeeper, a now-defunct lounge, in 2006.
By 2007, his MS had weakened the left side of his body, arm and hand, leg and foot, and walking was increasingly hard. He began monthly Tysabri infusion treatments.
Bob continued making art and was also the president of the board at TVCTV for several years. He was working on his “floating house” series when he began feeling bad, like he had the flu, in May 2015.
At the end of June, he was diagnosed with melanoma, stage four.
Jeanne, a.k.a. Scarlett, misses him every moment of every day, but also is so happy to have had him in her life.
She hopes that this website will be a way for Bob Neal to continue on into the 21st century and beyond.