BW Cover Auction Grants Give Local Artists a Leg Up 

Checking in with 2010 grant recipients

The 2011 Cover Auction's prized pony: Heather Miller's "Postcards."

Laurie Pearman

The 2011 Cover Auction's prized pony: Heather Miller's "Postcards."

Arms hoisted high above her head, Trey McIntyre Project's Annali Rose twirled like one of the spinning tops in Onalee Bukovcik's acrylic painting, as she showed it off to a crowd of curious bidders. Decked out in a floor-length evening gown, Rose and her TMP cohorts paraded artwork through the Linen Building's packed aisles at the 10th annual Boise Weekly Cover Auction on Nov. 2.

At the end of the fast paced, tequila-soaked night, the auction raised almost $17,500 for Boise Weekly Cover Art Grants, with Heather Miller's "Postcards" bringing in the top bid at $975. As event partners, TMP will pocket 20 percent of the evening's proceeds, and the rest will be dispersed to local arts organizations and solo artists.

Last year's grant recipients included everyone from TMP to Boise Open Studios Collective Organization to Boise Parks and Recreation. Some up-and-comers received grant funds as well, including Boise Bicycle Brigade, which invited 30 local artists and designers to create bike-themed poster art, and Searching for Quartzburg, a photo and audio documentary project that explored Idaho's "dreamers, visionaries, eccentrics, hermits and those who live outside of mankind's self-imposed boundaries."

Another upstart, Welsh/Garcia Productions, received a $2,800 BW grant to stage an original horror play this winter. Comprised of former Alley Rep-ers Nick Garcia and Hollis Welsh, the company recently changed its name to Empty Boat Theatre Company and is gearing up to present the The Acheri (pronounced ack-er-eye), Friday, Dec. 2, through Saturday, Dec. 17. The play follows six weary survivors sequestered inside Sunny Sky Daycare as they hide from a malevolent force lurking in the snow-blanketed town of Victor.

"They're in the middle of a terrible, terrible snowstorm and perpetual twilight, and as they try to figure out how to survive, they try to figure out whether or not they're going to be their own destruction, or whether their humanity or something inside them is going to help them rise above," explained director Dwayne Blackaller.

Based on a Native American ghost story about a demon that prays on children, The Acheri will feature actors Garcia, Amy Burton, Arthur Glen Hughes, Amela Karadza, Jef Petersen and Kristina Peterson. But unlike most traditional stage productions, the actors actually wrote the script through a series of intense, late-night improv sessions.

"The process that we're doing is essentially called collaborative devising," said Blackaller. "It sort of eschews the traditional way of writing a play, where you have a playwright whose words are sacrosanct and then you follow that. This is much more intuitive, and as a group, we decided what is the story we're really telling and how does each person bring some piece of creativity to it?"

The play, which Welsh described as "a hopeful story in the face of human obliteration," will have white-knuckled audience members trembling in their seats during its run at the former Ceramica building at 510 Main St.

"It's a very small-budgeted show, so the grant has helped us basically fund the project," Welsh said. "It's been a Godsend. ... It helped us take this fun idea we had and make it a reality."

The Acheri's director, Dwayne Blackaller, also received a $3,000 BW grant to fund a new program at Boise Contemporary Theater called BCT Theater Lab.

"Theater Lab is a concept where we take junior-high and high-school students from around the valley and then they come in and we work on devising and creating new work for the stage," said Blackaller. "So, it's truly contemporary theater--in eight weeks, they create a play from scratch and produce it."

Students will perform their original, multimedia-filled production, Yarn, on the BCT stage Nov. 8 through Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m.

"Everything that we had--props and costume-wise--was part of the Boise Weekly grant," said Blackaller.

Local artist Tomas Montano also used his $500 BW grant to purchase supplies for his new series, Revolucion, A Subtle Uprising.

"It is a series of plywood screenprints with abstract imagery that kind of revolves around some socio-political rhetoric--social unrest, some conspiracy theory, anger amongst the people going back to the revolution of Che Guevara," said Montano.

Montano's grant proposal was accepted last March, before the Occupy Wall Street protests brought economic unrest to the forefront of our national dialogue. Though the exhibit isn't scheduled to show anywhere in the near future, Montano agreed that the topic matter is undoubtedly timely.

"What you see is a really ornate piece of art, but if you start to dig in and look deep, you'll see a little bit more of the inflammatory rhetoric, a little bit of the feelings of unrest and injustice."

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