Local Art Lockup 

Swell Artist Collective exhibits work by Boise artists at the Old Idaho Penitentiary

Crime buffs, history nuts and art lovers can all find something to appreciate at the newest Swell Artist Collective exhibit, which will greet Old Idaho Penitentiary visitors this Friday, Aug. 18. In a continuation of the popular show, 32 Cells: Escape Edition pairs 32 local artists with pieces of Old Pen history to produce an outpouring of creative work. The art going up Friday in the Old Pen cell block was inspired by the efforts of 32 former inmates to pull a Houdini and slip through its very bars.

“We handed out accounts of escapes and attempted escapes from the Pen,” said Swell Collective co-owner and artist Kelly Knopp. “There were actually more than enough [for all 32 artists], which is kind of scary.”

click image - Check out jailbreak-themed art from Swell Artist Collective and beyond at the Old Idaho Pen Friday, Aug. 18. -  - SWELL ARTIST COLLECTIVE
  • Swell Artist Collective
  • Check out jailbreak-themed art from Swell Artist Collective and beyond at the Old Idaho Pen Friday, Aug. 18.

Some of the artists who participated in 2016 will be returning for an encore, but Swell is bringing in many new faces as well, both from within its ranks and the surrounding city.

“Ninety-five percent are Swell members,” said Knopp. “[But] we brought in a couple artists last year that just did an amazing job, and they aren’t in Swell right now but we thought we’d bring them back.”

Participating artists include Boise gallery owner Ward Hooper, local cityscape oil painter Toby Davis and professional bone carver Andrea Bonadiman. Once again, the event will be restricted to ages 21 and older, and food, beer, wine and the art on display will be available for purchase on site.

“Some of the content is pretty gory and might not be suitable [for kids],” said Knopp, adding that being able to freely offer alcohol was another perk of establishing an age limit.

As for the cost, cover is $8, but the profits go to good causes. The Pen will collect $6 out of every fee to help fund future field trips for school kids, and Swell will put the rest toward upcoming exhibits.

Pay to see crazy prison-themed art and in the process fund more art? Yes, please.

Friday, 6-10 p.m., $8, ages 21 and older with valid ID. Old Idaho Penitentiary, 2445 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, 208-334-2844.

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