Arts & Culture » Visual Art

Boise's Not-So-Freakish Love for Freak Alley


In what could otherwise be a dingy alleyway connecting downtown Boise's Eighth and Ninth streets, wanderers can instead find the notoriously vibrant Freak Alley Gallery, the largest outdoor art gallery in the northwest and the spot voted Best Art Gallery by Boise Weekly readers in 2018.

Visitors are first invited into Freak Alley by—well, by a goat. An eccentric mural showcases a goat wearing a pirate outfit and standing atop a treasure chest with a nearby scroll that reads, "Freak Alley Gallery," and lists the dates of each year's annual mural event, when artists from near and far create new murals in the space. The 2018 edition is slated for Saturday, Aug. 4, through Saturday, Aug. 11.

On a particularly toasty July afternoon, a visitor named Emily admired Freak Alley's signature spectacle for the first time.

"We don't have anything like this in Seattle," she said. "I love it, it's great."

Boiseans sometimes use Freak Alley as a quick shortcut to speed through downtown or simply as a place to linger and enjoy the murals.

"Whenever we're downtown, we always try to stop by to look," said Charlie, a Boise native. "It's definitely a unique experience."

Each year, the mural event ensures that uniqueness remains fresh, even for regular viewers.

"We've had a lot of talented artists submit this year; many of the artists are expressing some interesting themes surrounding the role of technology in our lives," said Hailey Roberts, Freak Alley Gallery board secretary.

Roberts added that this year, the event will see more than 90 artists creating new contributions to the gallery.

"Sara Aycock, Lee Sullivan [and] Felicia Dawn are a few of our returning artists," she said. "We're also happy to welcome more than 50 first-year participants."

The mural event kicks off Aug. 4, and many of the artists will begin creating their pieces after sundown, when temperatures have cooled off a bit. On Aug. 11, the final day of the event, the public is invited to take in all of the new additions to the gallery and chat with the artists from 4-10 p.m.