Boise State will soon have its own Freak Alley, known as the Bronco Art Way

Photo By Niamh Brennan

Between the Simplot Micron Advising and Success Hub (SMASH) and Riverfront Hall, a new project inspired by Boise’s own Freak Alley Gallery has begun with the collaboration of ASBSU and the arts department. 

Fonda Portales, the director of university arts explained the future vision for the Bronco Art Way. 

“I’m working with campus operations to renovate this space into an experimental outdoor exhibition space,” Portales said.

Portales explained the vision for the space would include renovations for movie screens, cables to hang murals and spots for sculptures. The alley can be a spot for engineering students to display designs, and others to gather in a public space that is creative and experimental.  The Bronco Art Way will showcase local student art like freak alley, but the walls themselves will be kept bare from direct paint since they are brick. 

To kick off the beginning of the art way and to get the word out, “Leave Your Mark” stone painting was held in the SUB last week and in the Bronco Art Way itself. On Oct. 6, at the last stone painting event, students painted rocks with unique images such as the Nightwing Symbol from DC and cat faces and used methods like decoupage, cutting and pasting pieces of paper onto the stones surface. 

“A lot of cities create spaces like this in alleyways or spaces between buildings, because it’s just this kind of nothing space until artists or engineers pick up on it,” Portales said. 

In December 2002, artist Colby Askers started a movement and a legacy by painting (as it is rumored) on a back doorway of Moon’s Kitchen. His artwork spread, and in the last fifteen years, between 400-500 masterpieces have contributed to Freak Alley in Boise. The outdoor mural gallery now is a non-profit organization that has hosted annual paint events every year since 2011. 

The painted rock momentos will be kept in the Bronco Art Way until the renovations are planned to start in a year. 

Nicole Barrett, a junior studying visual arts with an emphasis in photography and a minor in art entrepreneurship, joined the project after she approached Portales about an idea she had to incorporate more art into the campus landscape and classrooms.

“My initial idea was putting art in the classrooms, or around the buildings, and then that kind of turned into Fonda telling me that she was working on what we are now calling the Bronco Art Way,” Barrett said. “It was definitely based off Freak Alley and that’s what we were hoping for was more casual art.” 

Issac Celedon, an ASBSU representative, became involved with the project in February 2023 and helped facilitate the “Leave Your Mark” rock painting on Oct. 4, 5 and 6. 

“This space which is located between the SMASH and Riverfront Hall is going to be a newly renovated area with art and expression from students and Boise State. Over Homecoming week, we had some events allowing all of Bronco Nation to stop by and come paint a Stone Memento which will be added to the first installation in Fall 2024” Celedon said. “We are hoping to collaborate with Get Involved to have some events geared towards students and even work with Staff and Faculty committees to bring staff and faculty to participate.”

In the next weeks the bronco art way project team will schedule more events for more stone memento painting. 

“I definitely think if we can get the students involved in art that goes up it would be a way for the current art students to get some recognition outside of the art building,” Barrett said. “My hope is that people will be more aware that we do have our own art on campus.”

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