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Gazing into a painting, poring over a sculpture or marveling at any kind of an artist’s creation often evokes the words: How did they do that? And why? What kinds of materials were used? And how?

Luckily, in just a few days, you’ll be able to get answers to some of those questions when dozens of local artists from just about any and every medium opens their doors to the public. It’s a once-a-year opportunity to look behind the curtain — to find out how, exactly, did they do that.

Boise Open Studio Collective Organization, or BOSCO, is a group of local artists who once a year open their doors to the community. The organization was started in 2003. This is its 18th open studio event, which always takes place over the first two weekends in October. This year, that happens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3, and again, with different artists, Saturday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 10. The event is free and the perfect opportunity to pick the brains of your favorite local artists. There will also be an art giveaway. Pick up the stamps available at each studio visited to fill out an Art Passport. Each completed passport will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win art created by one of the participating artists.

What is BOSCO?

“Yes, my studio will be open,” said Lisa Cheney. “I’ve been with BOSCO 12 years now and as the president the last two years.”

Cheney said it’s challenging explaining just what the event is. “It isn’t an art fair — not like Art in the Park. What makes it different is our goal is more about education and educating the public about all the art processes. It’s a chance to meet the artists, talk to the artist … find out what inspires the artist. And — to see the artist’s artistic process.”

On BOSCO’s website, there will be a map listing the participating artists, their type of art, and where their studios are located.

“You can look at the map and decide if you just want to see painters or sculptors and plan your tour that way.” Cheney said last year the event expanded from one weekend to two and “eventually we want to go to three weekends.”

Cheney said she is looking forward to opening her doors. “I work in lots of different mediums. Mixed media, painting, drawing, book making … It’s fun to watch people come into the studio and say: ‘Whoa!’”

Artists don’t bite

“I love the opportunity to talk about the work I do,” said Sue Latta, a mixed-media sculptor who has been a BOSCO member since 2004 and will be one of the artists on this year’s tour. She said being able to see an artist in their studio provides an intimate, up-close setting.

“To meet them, to know there’s work involved. That there’s dirt. Labor. I want them to see that,” Latta said.

Derek Hurd, a wood artist and BOSCO member for five years, agrees. “It’s messy until the end,” he said. Hurd is also opening his studio doors this year.

Latta looks forward to the annual event that provides a way for many to understand art more fully. “I think most people have no idea how many hard-working artists there are in the community,” Latta said. “This is their opportunity.”

Latta said the studio itself can also be a revealing part of the process. “The space tells its own story,” she said. For instance, if she is involved in creating multiple pieces for an upcoming show or perhaps working on a commissioned piece or anything in-between, it’s all there to see. “Am I in the midst of something or not? … There will always be finished work but also — some not,” she said.

A visitor might also see a few, um … surprises. “The idiosyncrasies of an artist’s brain,” Latta said, smiling. “I’ve done some lifecasting so I have a bunch of hands just sitting around.”

In Hurd’s studio, one might see common household items juxtaposed amid the wood, which may someday become married with one of his unique furniture pieces. “I have a small refrigerator door that may be a cabinet someday. Or I have a box of soap derby wheels — the feet for a coffee table? — something that needs to be created,” he said.

And while there may be some art sold over the two weekends, Latta and Hurd said that’s just a happenstance and is far from what it’s all about. “It’s not a sales event; it’s an introduction event,” said Hurd. “It’s the beginning of that relationship. It’s a chance to start that dialogue.”

Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to ask that question: How did you do that?

“Let’s show the public what we’re up to,” said Hurd.

Latta agreed. “I’ll try to have something for them to see, tools of the trade. To say: ‘Here’s the magic, the alchemy of it. … Some people want to see the corners — to know what’s in my head.”

Boise Open Studios tour is an opportunity you won’t want to miss

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