Boise’s mural scene continues to grow


This story is an excerpt from the upcoming book Boise: City of Trees, due out this fall by David R. Day and the BoiseDev team. You can pre-order now.

Downtown Boise has long been a place to see art. From outdoor public artworks to the Boise Art Museum to Freak Alley and more, finding a piece of art has never been hard.

But as downtown develops and grows, some otherwise plain walls have started to show a little art. Or in some cases – LOTS of art.

The trend gained momentum in 2014 when Nampa artist Bobby Gaytan painted a boy playing guitar on the Main Street side of the Alaska Center. The boy, wearing oversized shoes and a levitating hat, sits on a log levitating over Main Street. The graffiti-style mural embellished the more than hundred-year-old building with a flourish.

In 2017, Spokane’s David Carmack Lewis painted the first of three downtown murals, each larger and bolder than the previous one. The first was over the Watercooler Apartments on Idaho Street and spans a 50 foot by 40 foot wall. Lewis’ work, entitled The Big Back Yard, features a chair soaring in the sky above a dark desert road, with a single set of taillights in the distance. Lewis returned to Boise to do another, even larger, mural at the back of The Fowler building along Myrtle St. For this work he painted a cloudy sky with mixed shades of pink and yellow.

Then, in 2020, he reappeared with Over the Valley at the side of the Key Financial Center, showing a river meandering through an Idaho-style mountain valley. Lewis told us he was excited to be working on the tall 10-story building.

“I love this street,” he said of the mural’s focal point. “It’s kind of weird, it’s such a tall building. The viewpoint looks down the valley although you are looking at the mural.”

Local graffiti art, Sector Seventeen, has also made a name for itself downtown. The group painted a colorful series of images on the underside of the Connector at Rhodes Skatepark, a mural for nonprofit FACES on the City Center Plaza building, an installation on the back of the Record Exchange building, and more.

There’s even a mural in a Greenbelt Tunnel by Kristen Ramirez, another alongside The Jefferson by Yulia Avgustinovich, and many more.

The mural scene is constantly changing and evolving, along with the city itself. If you look closely, you might discover a new piece of art that brings a little more interest to a drab wall.


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