All is Swell in Bodo


by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, photography by Mark Dyrud

A new artist collective titled “Swell” features artists in working in their studios as well as gallery and retail space. The environment is a creative hub that is open for the public to visit and is a center for planned artistic events, including welcoming visitors during First Thursday. Although Swell intends to feature many artists in the Boise artistic community, studio space is already allotted to the four founders.

Artists Julia Green, Noble Hardesty, Kelly Knopp, Cody Rutty have been friends for more than 5 years, and all of them have lived in Boise for at least 10 years. Cody states, “Boise has a tight-knit artistic community that we’ve all been active in, doing shows together, planning events, and bumping into each other.” With the formation of the Swell Artist Collective, they are business partners as Swell Collective Members—they split the cost of the rent and group expenses.  The four artists were all looking for additional studio space and decided to partner up to split the cost and found a space downtown that worked for everyone. “Within a week of discussing the idea we were signing the lease. This occurred in early November of 2015.”

Cody explains that Kelly Knopp coined the term Swell out of thin air while brainstorming. “It has an informal and visual tonality we all enjoy,” he says.

Each of the artists has a different approach and individual business that overlaps well with the others, while still being different enough to create excellent opportunity for learning and growth. “An open studio and gallery space was something that we thought would help create synergy and be a positive step for the larger artistic community as a whole in Boise.”

“The day to day can be pretty diverse. We enjoy being an environment in which we are pushed by each other’s work ethic and projects. The fast paced-creative environment creates a lot of variety and can be surprising and fun.”

The artists work in a variety of media. “We all draw a lot. And there is quite a bit of painting and digital production occurring on any given day.”Web2

Kelly and Julia deal a lot with graphic and illustrative work. Noble and Cody focus mainly on fine art painting. “Each of us has overlap into each other’s work, which is nice because we can benefit from each other’s knowledge and skill base.”

Cody shares what the artists love about Boise. “We love the four seasons. We love how the art community is tight-knit and is full of people who are seeking to grow the community. The number of new people that we have been meeting through Swell events and walk-ins has been wonderful; there’s a huge level of encouragement and support in Boise.”

The artists at Swell Artist Collective are truly swell people, not just excellent artists. They all do work with various non-profits and charities, including the Boise Hive, Valentines for AIDS, Idaho Humane Society, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, and many others.

Cody has some advice for other artists. “Work hard. Work hard. Work hard some more, but have some fun. Art can be a pretty difficult field at times. A lot of challenges revolve around making a balance between creating the work and promoting it. We are facing challenges in that we handle all aspects of the business, so anything that we can’t get to ourselves doesn’t get done. This presents some time management disciplines and we are constantly learning. But overall, we go into every day knowing that it isn’t easy and we aren’t entitled to anything.” The Swell Artist Collective looks toward building creativity in Bodo and making Boise an epicenter for the arts on a national and international scope.

Swell Artist Collective
404 S 8th Street L105, Boise, ID 83702
below Chic Bridal Boutique in BoDo.