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This is the 20th anniversary for the Annual Boise Weekly Cover Art Auction.

It's your chance to score some sweet, original art created by one of our talented local artists.

Artists vie for a coveted BW cover every year. It's a badge of honor that has grown in stature over the years throughout the community. And every artist who graces one of BW's covers earns the bragging rights and can see their art sprouting all over Boise — in coffee shops, local markets, restaurants and entertainment venues.

In addition to being on the cover, artists' original works are digitized by Evermore Prints and framed by Van Dyke Frame Design, all in anticipation of the annual cover auction. 

Over the past two years, the auction has been taking place virtually, online through Auction Frogs. For two weeks — Oct. 6 to Oct. 20 — a year's worth of BW cover art will be available for bidding. Bonus: There is also a poster featuring all covers available for purchase and you can get note cards of your fave(s) as well.

Know this: Not only does your money help line the artist's pocket, it also goes into the Boise Weekly Cover Art Auction Grant fund. This grant has provided more than $250,000 to fuel dozens of artists and art projects. 

So now that you see what good the auction can do — and will do next year and beyond — let's meet some of this year's cover artists.

BW sent out questions via email. Content has been edited for length; Look for Part II in next week's edition.

You are an artist. Can you describe what that means to you?

Nikki Russo: Being an artist is very empowering for me. It gives me the opportunity to express my emotions when words don't cut it, it helps me assess myself by giving me the opportunity to go within and really get connected with spirit and with my intuition. Being an artist is one of the most beautiful ways that I can share with others how I see the world and what kind of an impact being here on this crazy planet has on me in the hopes of creating deeper connections.

Dave Thomas: Being an artist means everything really, it's who I am and how I feel and think ... all I do goes through that filter.

Jacey Peterson: Being an artist to me means being free. I can create anything I can dream ! Creating something from just a thought or an idea is the most incredible feeling in the world. You are giving the world something it didn't have before. Figurative painting is my style of choice, bringing animals, feelings, and people to life on canvas is what I love most.

Jill Storey: When I paint for myself, it means trying to capture and share moments of beauty, but also sometimes to share things that have emotional tension. When I paint for someone else, it means being a memory keeper. I've always enjoyed painting a portrait on commission, because I understand that it brings something meaningful in the recipient's past back to life.

Betsie Richardson: It took me years after starting to sell my artwork to get comfortable calling myself an artist. I felt like an imposter. Who am I to ask for someone’s precious attention to see this thing I created and then ask them to pay me money for it so they can display it in front of everyone they care about? I eventually got over it and have an easy time telling people at cocktail parties what I do for work. Being an artist is both a job and a passion. It requires constant balance between those two forces. Being an artist means I run my own business selling a product I happen to create, and being an artist means having an insatiable quest to translate purpose and beauty in a visual medium intended to stir emotion in a public audience. Some days, I get stuck deciding whether to reconcile my accounting, order business cards, compose a marketing email for an upcoming show or get to work at the easel.

Mary Gardiner: Being an artist means at any time I can pick up a paintbrush, pencil, or piece of charcoal and express my feelings. For me, painting helps resolve some of the stresses of daily life, and I get to interpret what it means to be here on beautiful planet earth.

How do you observe the world and interpret through your art?

Nikki Russo: I have a very curious nature and see beauty in the mundane as well as quintessential beauty that we can all relate to due to some conditioning.

Dave Thomas: My work is aware of the history of art, but I interpret it with the least amount of information as possible, it's about energy, motion, a single mark or statement. At the same time the natural world being in nature renews my studio process.

Jacey Peterson: I interpret art as a feeling put onto a page. I love pulling ideas from everyday life; a color, a picture, an animal, my children, there are no shortages of inspiration in this crazy beautiful world. My paintings always have a certain feel or energy about them. I'm not one to paint a still life without movement.

Jill Storey: I am a representational painter, so my art is usually pretty recognizable. The difference between observation and interpretation is largely in selective editing, so that the resulting art feels the way I perceived the subject.

Betsie Richardson: There is a Buddhist concept called beginner’s mind that relates to my approach as an artist. I hope to see the world through fresh eyes, as if my eyes have never seen the brilliant chartreuse in a Granny Smith apple or the holes and crevices comprising the gooey interior of a handmade loaf of sourdough bread. I seek to pass that reflective pause to my audience, giving them a break from the constant chatter of news and social media and ego to witness something visually striking in an otherwise mundane object they see every day. I get pretty geeky when I arrange still life subjects in my shadow box and turn the light source on them to reveal the play of light and color. It’s like, damn, just when I want to give the middle finger to this divisive, pandemic-stricken life, I see the light reflect off the smooth glossy skin of an eggplant and think about the farmer’s hands digging it out of the earth for another human to eat, and life feels breathtakingly stunning.

Mary Gardiner: Sometimes the painting or drawing just flows out of me as if it’s not really me doing the work, I just reveal what’s already there. Other times, I go outside with my easel and paint en plein air with my love, Gary McCall, and other plein air painters. I interpret a scene or create a version of what is already out there with a semi-abstract view of the world.

How old were you when you created your first piece of art — what was it? Did you entitle it?

Nikki Russo: The first piece of artwork I can remember making was a glass mosaic mask and on the same day a pastel copy of one of Georgia O'Keefe's Orchids on linen. My teacher was so impressed that she asked if she could keep them and although I was sad to let them go, I was happy she loved what I did and was proud enough to want to own them! I believe that I was in 3rd grade, so about 8 years old.

Dave Thomas: In kindergarten art class I painted a self portrait and my teacher and classmates made fun of the painting. I knew, at that moment I wanted to do more of what people call art.

Jacey Peterson: I couldn't tell you how old I was when I first created my first piece of art. My dad is an amazing artist and he has always been a great teacher and role model for me. I have been doing art since I could hold a crayon.

Jill Storey: I don't recall a specific beginning, it seems like I've always had a pencil or a crayon in my hand. So I asked my mom. She said the first drawing she saved was an angel full of color and pattern I drew for her when I was about six. And yes, she still has it.

Betsie Richardson: Hard to recall. I was one of those kids who was always drawing, journaling or reading a book. In fact, I used to illustrate my own stories with a book jacket and all in elementary school. One of the strongest memories I have of creating art as a child was in elementary school when our principal asked kids to draw their teachers. Being the overachiever I was, I drew many teachers and staff members with shading and a full value scale. Our principal was quite taken by my drawings, and published an actual photo of our school counselor as if drawn by me, with a stick figure version next to it drawn by “Jimmy” in the staff newsletter. A teacher shared the newsletter with me, and I still remember the glowing feeling of being appreciated for something that meant a lot to me and that I otherwise kept to myself.

Mary Gardiner: I have no idea when I first drew or painted, but I do remember my Mom saving my school art for a long time, and some of it is still up at my Dad’s place in Australia — long after my Mom passed away.

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