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Freaks and Fish 

Artists reinvent Freak Alley and a new show goes up in BODO

Boise is a tidy city, with its forest of banks and well cared for downtown shops, but duck into the alley connecting Eighth and Ninth streets--between Bannock and Idaho--and you enter a labyrinth where pigs fly and hummingbirds dip their beaks into gramophone horns.

From cartoons to fine art, the political to the fanciful, Freak Alley Gallery is a riot of colors and subjects--and a Boise institution since 2002, when Colby Akers and, as he said, a "couple of street kids" started painting in the old Moon's alley access.

Since then, the street art gallery--with its inimitable funk of Eighth Street restaurant Dumpsters--has grown to encompass the length of the alley.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, artists descended on the space to paint over the old and paint on the new.

This year marks the third annual Freak Alley reinvention, which culminates in a public showing Saturday, Aug. 10. Akers said as many as 65 artists will take part--fewer than in some years, but "I like it a little more manageable," he said.

Artists are curated by a committee comprised of Akers, business owners and maintenance staff.

"Very rarely do we turn people away, unless it's for space," Akers said.

Though the steering committee is informal, Akers said the plan is to save enough money to file for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Then Freak Alley can support its artists in other projects. It's part of the communal spirit that animates Boise's most social gallery.

"I know it's bigger than me, so I have to let it do [what it wants to do]," Akers said.

In other gallery news, Ed Anderson--who started the Fulton Street Showroom in 2011 but bowed out after the birth of his twin daughters--is returning not only to his former gallery home (behind Renewal Furniture at 850 Fulton St.), but will curate for fellow BODO locations Solid and Front Street Brokers.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, Anderson opens Fish Spots--a fishing-themed show to benefit Reel Recovery, which helps men deal with cancer through fishing. The exhibition will feature local art and photography from Josh Udesen, (who will receive an in-studio critique from Travis Swartz, aka "Hank Patterson," of the YouTube fly-fishing comedy series), Bryan Huskey, Josh Prestin and Anderson, as well as several national artists. Work will be shown at Fulton Street Showroom, Solid and Front Street Brokers, with an opening reception at 7 p.m.

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