Buried in the downtown streets of Boise, Idaho you will find the art of the freaks — where graffiti is welcomed rather than shunned to outskirts of the city. Freak Alley is located between Bannock and Idaho Street next to the large downtown banks and numerous craft breweries. It covers the brick walls of the buildings for one city block, as well as the inside of a large parking lot. It is the largest outdoor gallery that you will find in the northwestern part of the nation.
It began in 2002, with a single painted door in the alley and has expanded to the doors and walls of local business throughout the block. The original creative door artist, Colby Akers, works with all the local businesses and bureaucratic persons to gain permission to continue the work in the alley. The founder’s mission is to provide a public place for visual artists to be able to express themselves and showcase their work.
The area has been nurtured and expanded by the artistic community of Boise to various parking garages, wrapping electrical boxes, and sides of buildings throughout the downtown area. There is no entrance fee to walk through and appreciate the graffiti, murals and painted walls and, as a public area, is open 24/7.
The attraction has become a downtown Boise destination for locals and visitors alike, and is a trendy locale for engagement photos, senior pictures and social media-bound selfies.
Make plans to hit Freak Alley and the indoor gallery on the first Thursday evening of any month. There are number of other businesses that showcase local artists on the walls for the night, and you can make the rounds. There are occasional events held in the parking lot and alley area in the summer and fall. Local acrobats, pole dancers, textile artisans, and DJs will fill the block with a colorful scene for all ages to come and enjoy.
The walls, doors and doorways are painted over or integrated into new pieces of art every year. The transformation takes place on the first Saturday in August and lasts for a week before the unveiling of that year’s work. The Freak Alley Gallery takes artist’s submissions on a rolling basis. The Freak Alley Gallery also has an indoor gallery where they feature different artists on a monthly basis. They feature artists for 10.5 months out of the year and has a large show in July to display the work of the Freak Alley group.
The rotating nature of the artists that are featured gives the local community a tremendous feeling of endless possibilities, welcomes the inclusion of new artists and fosters an environment where artists can work together to inspire one another and help each contributor improve their individual creative prowess.
Although artists are encouraged to express themselves in whatever way feels natural, the murals and art are family friendly and available to all ages. Visiting Freak Alley will give you and your family a chance to experience some art and culture while in Idaho. Since the alley metamorphoses annually, you can visit a new alley with your family year after year.
The alley and gallery are operated, maintained run by volunteers and continues its effort to offer free public art on solely donations alone. To make a donation and support Freak Alley’s vision, visit freakalleygallery.org.