We Art Women (And Men, Too This Year) 

For an annual event to be successful year after year, it has to hit that sweet spot between meeting attendees' expectations and evolving. We Art Women seems to have changed more during the last couple of years than in all its early years--when it was called the Celebration of Women in the Arts--combined. The venue has changed, the process of choosing the participating visual artists has changed and even the price of admission changed. And all for the better.

This year's We Art Women event, which benefits the Women and Children's Alliance, will be held at the Visual Arts Collective.

"We held it at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Center last year, and that space just wasn't big enough," said Rocci Johnson, owner of Humpin' Hannah's, where the event was held for years. And this year, instead of accepting every piece submitted, the WAW board tapped Sue Latta to jury the work. Nearly 200 pieces were submitted and Latta had to winnow that number down to 32 hanging pieces and 14 3D pieces. It was a tough job and one she took quite seriously.

"Especially with a show this disparate," Latta said. "It was a hard task to narrow it down."

With help from VAC owner Sam Stimpert, Latta also curated the show.

"To look at the show," Latta said, "I think it looks pretty good." Which is great, since this year, instead of being able to see the art for one night only, it will hang at VAC through Friday, May 28.

Also new this year in the silent auction are four "exquisite corpses" by artists Marianne Konvalinka, Zella Bardsley, Pam McKnight, Susan Moore and Nancy Panganiban. Konvalinka said that even though they all work in different mediums--for example, Bardsley works in metal and Konvalinka works in masonite--collaborating with other female artists was an incredible experience.

"We each worked on each piece for an hour," Konvalinka said. "We all work differently, but the fun of it was seeing what they looked like at the end."

Yet another new element of this year's WAW is the Venus Project. Rocci Johnson asked local media personalities to design a plastic or a paper torso, which will be up for auction as well. Participants include KBOI Channel 2's Natalie Hurst, The Idaho Statesman's Dana Oland; Mix 106's Kate McGwire, Lite 108's Robin Scott, KTVB Channel 7's Maggie O'Mara, Boise Weekly's own Amy Atkins and Johnson herself, along with another big change this year: men. KIVI Channel 6's Scott Dorval and 103.3 Kiss FM's Keke Luv are also participating in the project.

With the silent auctions, art sales and $25 admission at the door last year, WAW made $15,000 for the WCA. Although the suggested donation is less this year at $15, they expect more people to be able to attend so organizers don't expect to see a drop in proceeds. In fact, they should see more: 100 percent of the silent auction and limited raffle proceeds as well as 20 percent of sales from Thursday night will go to WCA, as will the portion of their commission that VAC is donating on artwork sold throughout the month. The silent auction art is available for bidding now at weartwomen.org.

Thursday, April 8, 6-9 p.m., $15 strongly suggested, tax-deductible donation. VAC, 3638 Osage St., 208-424-8297, visualartscollective.com. For more information, visit weartwomen.org.

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