A Basque in Boise

Nationally-Recognized Basque Artist to Donate Bronze High Relief Sculpture to Basque Museum and Cultural Center

BOISE, ID – July 2011—Dennis Berriochoa Downes, a nationally-recognized Basque artist, will donate a bronze high relief sculpture to the Basque Museum & Cultural Center at a ceremony on the Basque Block to begin the Basque festival celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 29. The public is invited to attend a ceremony with local and state leaders and members of the Basque community, to celebrate the life of Saint Valentin Berrio-Ochoa, patron saint of the Basque province of Bizkaia, and to receive the gift of a high relief bronze sculpture of his likeness from Downes.

Dennis Berriochoa Downes

Dennis Berriochoa Downes

Born in 1827 in the town of Elorrio in the Basque Country, Valentin Berrio-Ochoa entered the Dominican order of priests and set out for Asia to fulfill his life work.  He was later ordained a bishop in Ninh-Cuong Vietnam.  In 1861, he was beheaded in Vietnam, along with 116 other martyrs, for refusing to renounce Jesus.  Pope Jean Paul II canonized him as Saint Valentin Berrio-Ochoa at a ceremony in Rome in 1988 in which a select group of Berriochoa descendents from Idaho were in attendance.

Dennis Berriochoa Downes, the artist, is a descendent of the martyred saint.  The main body of his work has been inspired by research trips to ancient sites and to natural wonders across the Great Lakes Region and Beyond.  Dennis’ travel began at a young age, taking trips to visit his mother’s people the Basque Berriochoa Clan, living in Idaho and Montana Rocky Mountain area.  His travels have inspired both his paintings and his sculptures.  Dennis currently works out of Northeastern Illinois, as well as the Wilderness Coast of Ontario.  He has participated in over 100 solo, juried, public and private shows in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom over the past 25 years.  Several of Dennis’ sculptures and paintings are on permanent display at museums, public libraries, historical societies, and national landmarks, as well as private collections across the country.

The Basque Museum & Cultural Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, to promote, and to perpetuate Basque history and culture. The Basque Museum provides educational programs and outreach, creates exhibits, and has an extensive collection of photographs, oral histories, and artifacts.

The bronze sculpture will be incorporated into the exhibit currently on display at the Basque Museum & Cultural Center in Boise, Idaho, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Basques.”

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