After five years, Swell Artist Collective is shutting its doors on Sept. 8. The local group included 30 artists and was spearheaded by Noble Hardesty; he said the pandemic wasn’t conducive to art shows.
“We were looking at things closely and we knew that we’d have to cancel more shows,” said Hardesty. “I made sure the artists got what they paid for and I’ve always said the world would let me know when I was done, and here we are. It did what it needed to do.”
The collective was a way for local and lesser-known artists to show their work. Members paid a monthly fee to participate in shows put on by Swell. It was a popular model enjoyed by artists and art-lovers, but due to the pandemic and an increase in inquiries about his own art, Hardesty said he needed to bring it to an end. He’s looking to hold the annual Art Deck-O show in spring 2021, if it can be done safely, as a big farewell to the collective.
“I don’t think it’s a sad thing,” said Hardesty “it’s just moving on to other things and when we can do the final show, we’ll say goodbye and have a big party.”
Hardesty said he can’t explain it but after the pandemic there has been a surge in interest in his personal work, and he wants to make time for it. He also said that he’s a bit older and because of COVID-19, hasn’t gone to any shows in person this year, and knows many others who haven’t, either. All in all, he just felt like it was the right time to end it.
Local artist and owner of Rocket Neon, Will Kirkman, said it was a good way to get artists who don’t show their work often and un-discovered local artists to show their new stuff. Kirkman has been a part of the collective since its inception.
“I’m very sad but I get it,” said Kirkman. “It doesn’t make sense if we all pay into it and it can’t happen. It wasn’t a perfect set-up but I thought it worked pretty well, and I’ll be sad to see it go.”
For Hardesty, part of the excitement with Swell was seeing all the new art and artists. He said that he was consistently amazed with all of the talent he saw and hopes the Boise art scene can try to pull off the same idea in a new way.
“I loved my time at Swell, it wasn’t easy but I got to work with great artists,” said Hardesty. “That’s the thing about Boise and art, there’s something in the water here and there are so many talented artists. I’m sure others will start something new.”