The 2008 recession led to the founding of Idaho’s largest art maker’s space. When Kara and Daniel Hidalgo lost their jobs because of the economic collapse, Daniel told Kara that his new career of choice was teaching art. However, he was hesitant to teach in schools.  

“He wanted to teach for art’s sake, and not have to integrate other subjects into his art classes. So, I said, ‘Why don’t we create an art center where you can teach art,’” Kara said.   

With Kara’s background in marketing, and Daniel’s passion for art education, an art center seemed like the perfect fit.   

The St. Anthony-based organization is a non-profit and relies on donations and grants to keep doors open. It’s located at 2355 S. Yellowstone Highway. They keep costs low, and work is mainly from volunteers. Kara says this allows them to provide opportunities below market value.  

“Cheap dates can happen here,” Kara said with a laugh.  

Because of the pandemic, visitors must book an appointment before using the lab, which is open Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m. Common date activities include pottery making, gemstone polishing or ceramic painting. Hidalgo says that items on the shelves cost as little as $5, far below market value.  

The Idaho Art Lab also hosts an annual Hollywood special effects class series. The five-day courses in special effects are taught by Hollywood artists who have worked on major films such as “Star Trek,” “Ghostbusters” and “The Muppets.” Upcoming classes include prosthetic facial sculpting, a foam fabricating class and monster sculpting in clay.  

“What we have learned is that a lot of Hollywood special effects artists aren’t from LA,” Kara said. “They originally are from small towns where they had to be really creative and think outside the box in order to make these creatures and characters … So, they have a special spot in their heart for small town makers because they have found that small town creators are much more creative.”  

For more information on classes and events at the Idaho Art Lab, visit