In 2001, the artist-owned downtown gallery, Art Source, decided Boise artists needed a wake-up call. They needed a venue that would inspire innovation, dialogue and production. The gallery envisioned an event that would draw heterogeneous works from artists across the country and hoped that bringing sundry, fresh ideas together would energize the Boise art scene. From the outset, it was not a money-making venture, and after seven successful years of juried expositions, the owners still don't make a cent. Every penny collected from entry fees goes to cover the expenses of the exhibit and to award the top artists in the show.
The rules are simple: Entrants can submit up to three works of fine art—regardless of content or media—so long as they are products of the last three years and are completely original, from idea to execution.
Art Source Gallery's Zella Bardsley explained that the gallery does not choose a theme for each year's show. She said they don't want to "detract from the creative process" in any way. "When exhibitions are themed, I don't feel you have the artists' best work entered," she said.
Despite the consistent, open-ended annual prompt, the exhibitions are never redundant. Bardsley attributes each show's distinctiveness to the juror. Each year, the gallery puts a lot of thought into selecting a juror who will have a unique eye for art and who will inspire a varying pool of applicants with certain stylistic commonalities.
"By having a different juror each year, the show changes vastly, even if we do have some of the same artists entering," she explained.
In the past, the gallery has drawn jurors from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Boise State Art Department, the Boise Art Museum, as well as independent artists and art teachers. This year, the gallery selected Roland Giampaoli, a local art teacher with a background in commercial art.
After 25 years as the owner of an advertising art studio in Chicago and eight years as an adjunct professor at Boise State, he opened up the Paint and Draw Art School, where he continues to teach watercolor painting and pen and ink drawing.
As an artist who was formerly a member of the Art Source Gallery, Giampaoli was excited to be involved. As the sole juror, he was presented with the 200 submissions, mostly in the forms of slides and photographs, and asked to whittle them down to a modest 80 to be put on exhibit.
He admits that it was a challenging task and that many of the submissions he discarded would have easily made the cut for other shows. For this particular show, he had the privilege of selecting works based on his own tastes and artistic proclivities.
"It's really a very personal thing for a judge to evaluate works," he said.
As a naturalistic watercolorist, he was drawn to works that—regardless of their media—used color and form in a way that was realistic and balanced. As one who teaches introduction to art classes, he has deep respect for artists with a firm command of the basic formal elements of artistic composition.
"I looked for good drawing, good perspective, good knowledge of light and how it affects the figure."
Considering his values, it is perhaps not surprising that the upcoming show will predominantly feature landscape paintings: plenty of snow-capped mountains and waves crashing against coastlines. However, there are a few exceptions including Kristy Albrecht's Finger Food.
Giampaoli admitted that every once in a while, something will jump out at him and, even if it differs tremendously in style from his own work, it captures his fancy.
As an artist who rarely enters competitions, Albrecht was thrilled to have her work juried into the show. She uses color in a bold way with the goal of cultivating "curious excitement" and capturing scenarios that make the viewer ask questions.
"In my oil paintings, I use bright colors and a combination of hard and soft lines to bring the moment to life," Albrecht said. "The rich colors of oil make the images seem dreamlike, [and] exploding with energy."
Though the 80 pieces have been selected, Giampaoli's work is not yet done. On First Thursday, he will select the top three pieces. The winner of best in show and the two runner- up will each receive a cash prize of $1,000.
Giampaoli understands the significance of his decision. His own studio displays works he's done, many of which have ribbons adorning the frames. He admitted that he keeps his hand in the competitive art world, every now and again submitting a piece to a juried show like the ones held at the Idaho State Fair.
As a frequent prize winner himself, he knows the excitement of hearing his name called and being honored before his peers, and is very excited for the opportunity to announce the deserving recipients of this year's prizes.
Opening reception First Thursday, June 5, 5-9 p.m. Awards will be announced at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 28. Art Source Gallery, 1015 Main St., 208-331-3374, artsourcegallery.com.