Arts & Culture » Visual Art

The Basement Gallery Embraces Emerging Artists

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Frequent Flying M-ers might feel a wave of deja vu wash over them upon descending into Basement Gallery this November and December. For the subterranean gallery's 13th Annual X-mas X-hibition, owner Perry Allen handpicked and hung the work of five Boise-area artists. Two of those artists--Kelly Knopp and John Padlo--coincidentally just had their first-ever solo shows at Flying M.

"Flying M is a really nice taster, it gives you a good taste of what [artists] have," said Perry. "But until they get into the full-blown gallery environment, you really don't know if they have enough work to fill the walls or not."

Knopp and Padlo will be joined by illustrator Cody Evans, painter and illustrator Tony Rios and mixed-media artist, illustrator and three-time Basement veteran Keith Farnsworth. Though in years past, Allen's Christmas exhibition has been an all-group show, this year he decided to do things a bit differently.

"I usually do somewhat repetitive shows yearly, and they're usually themed," said Perry. "This is a bit out of my norm to just go handpick a few guys and throw them on the wall, but I've been keeping an eye on these guys all year long."

While there's not necessarily a uniting theme that runs through the exhibit, each artist has qualities that are notably Basement--bright colors blended with a certain cartoonish capriciousness and an often dark undercurrent. Also, except for Padlo's large oil paintings of childhood toys and Farnsworth's mixed-media "faded mind signs," a majority of the work in the show is illustration-based.

"The last few years, I've been leaning a lot toward the illustrators," said Allen. "The young illustrators are really doing some great work, a lot of them coming right out of the university here ... It most definitely deserves a place in the fine art world."

Basement Gallery has built its reputation showing work by noted Boise illustrators like Bill Carman, Ben Wilson and Mike Flinn. But now there's a new crop of artists that Allen is also enthusiastically embracing. He stumbled across Evans while jurying the Boise State student show last year. He gave Evans some time to build up his body of work and "get the school system out" before inviting him to participate in the X-mas X-hibition.

"I think I'm starting to find my own voice more and kind of break free from the work that I did in school," said Evans. "It kind of describes me more, my personality, which is maybe a little dark, but still really fun and kind of whimsical."

And while Evans, Knopp and Padlo are all relative newcomers to the professional arts world, Rios and Farnsworth should balance out the show with a dash of seasoned expertise.

"New faces, new energy, new work. I'm really excited," said Perry.