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Arts & Culture

Freak Alley Gallery Breathes Life Into Boise's Art Scene

Ten years ago, Freak Alley Gallery started when a local artist painted inside an alley doorway in downtown Boise. Today, the gallery stretches the length of the alley, and a nearby parking lot.

Over 80 artists gathered last week to paint on the alley walls between 8th and 9th Street, and Bannock and Idaho. Artists cover the aging brick and crumbling cement with all styles of mural. Some look realistic, others cartoonish, others urban, like graffiti.

But Freak Alley Gallery isn’t graffiti.

Colby Akers started the movement. Years after painting that first doorway - outside the old Moon’s location - he got permission from the rest of the building owners, and started calling for artists to submit work.

“It’s fulfilling to know that everything that I was doing 10 years ago, with everything I did to get to here, were the right choices,” Akers said.

Artists use everything from air brushing to broken mirrors to create their murals. Most artists are local, but some traveled from other western states to partake.

Ann Lotero moved to Boise from California 13 years ago. This is her second year painting in Freak Alley. Her painting reflected the theme: dreams.

“I was doing it through the eyes of a dreamer, like, just all these different things that go through your mind. It can be bad dreams, good dreams, fantasy dreams, things like that,” Lotero said.

She works on a mural with a purple background and a white skeleton, with black sharpie filling the skull with images. Lotero points out a totem pole, a mermaid, her son and daughter, bugs and cars and trucks and an American flag. She says all the images have meaning in her life.

Lotero says it’s gratifying to see her work in the alley for the next year to come.

Karen Bubb, Public Arts Manager for the City of Boise, also embraces the Freak Alley Gallery project.

“I think it’s sign of vitality for the arts scene in Boise,” Bubb says. She says she likes that the murals change every year. “It’s like breathing in some ways,” she says. “It’s fresh again.”

Akers says the gallery is something unique to Boise, and he hopes it grows to more alleys in the city.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio

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