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Boise is home to a huge number of artworks, sponsored publicly or otherwise, indoor and outdoor. More are popping up all the time, and this article could not possibly cover them all, which is a good thing. These works are made by the efforts and creativity of hundreds of Idaho’s very own artists, so Go! see these (and other) artworks and be astounded by the talent found in our state.
These living quarters are hard to miss if you drive past 6th Street on Myrtle. Created by David Carmack Lewis, this enormous painting depicts sunset colors with silhouettes of the old fashioned 1920s townhouses that used to stand where the apartments are now. Next to them is the long horizon of a representation of the Boise foothills. The Fowler Apartments make the downtown drive a little more pleasant.
Starting as a way to deter graffiti on traffic light boxes circa 2007, Columbia, Missouri started putting publicly sponsored art on them instead. The idea spread throughout the country, with Boise being one of the early adopters. Since 2013, traffic boxes across the Valley have been getting makeovers to be a little more attractive to everyone. No matter where you Go! around town, you’re going to see one.
Go! see the spot that has won fame from beyond Idaho and is rumored to be the Pacific Northwest’s largest outdoor gallery. No matter what time of day, there is always at least a small crowd marveling at the street murals down Freak Alley. Legend has it that this Boise landmark began by accident with artist Colby Akers essentially making illegal murals on the side of the building of The Moon Cafe.
The owner of the cafe caught Akers in the act, and instead of demanding he stop, Akers was encouraged to continue. Since then, as long as artists don’t disrupt or ruin the gallery as a whole, no one has been discouraged from making new murals in Freak Alley.
“Colby was never told no and thus felt he could not tell others no. It just organically grew from the [Moon Cafe] doorway. The property owner is an awesome partner which, without them, there would be no Freak Alley Gallery,” says Melissa, a rep for Freak Alley Gallery.
Since 2002, Freak Alley has encompassed the entire alleyway on the block that is bound by the 8th, 9th, Idaho, and Bannock Streets, and continues to grow and evolve today, spilling over its original boundaries. For access to an officially unofficial website on Freak Alley with more great info, click here.
Watercooler is a chic downtown living space connected with an upscale cafe. They have a stunning painting on the west side of their building called The Big BackYard. It was made, once again, by Boise’s favorite muralist, David Carmack Lewis. It’s colors are deep and vibrant and the image as a whole delights the onlooker with the mystery and wonder of night drives through the beautiful Northwest.
At Rhodes Skate Park downtown, there are several colorful murals that perfectly fit the lifestyle and aesthetic of skater culture. Even if you don’t skate, take a few moments during the day to cross this item off your list of cool things to see in Boise.
This mural is difficult to see fully unless you are in or on top of one of the surrounding buildings, or have access to the parking garage on which it is painted. The garage is reserved for Key Bank customers and employees. I never could find out the name of the piece or the artists who made it, and the rep I spoke with at Key Bank on Capitol knew nothing about it.
The west-facing wall of the parking garage on the corner of Bannock and Capitol features a mural of what looks like a grizzly bear collecting trash on Mars while seagulls and perhaps flying saucers hang in the distance. Or is the bear hitchhiking? It’s a bit hard to say.
You can see this mural in part from the ground if you walk west down the alley between the parking garage and the main Key Bank building and turn around to face eastward. Go! get a glimpse of this mysterious, not-quite-secret work of art right in the middle of downtown Boise.
There are tons more murals and excellent examples of street art around downtown Boise, and all the surrounding cities. Tell us your favorites, and send us your photos of art you really like that wasn’t mentioned here. As summer winds down, Go! take in some of the awesome street murals around downtown Boise.