Not just pastoral scenes.
For many of us, the new year cannot begin without a calendar from the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission.
Over the last 11 years it's been an annual survey of the best in Wisconsin art, a daily reminder of the link between artist and space, and above all the holiday gift we send distant friends to remind them of home.
Also, it's cheap.
"Affordable! Affordable!" laughs Karen Crossley, commission director.
The $7.58 desk calendar collects images evoking Dane County by state artists. For the 2010 edition, more than 30 artists submitted in excess of 300 images for consideration. Chosen artists receive an honorarium of $100.
Recent calendars have featured more new artists, says Crossley. "We've also included more different kinds of media, such as digital photography and lithography, where I think in the past we focused more on painting."
The project began as a onetime collection of past Cultural Affairs Commission poster art, another annual publication. Between 5,000 and 8,000 calendars are published each year, netting the commission between $5,000 and $10,000.
"Financially, it's not a huge piece of our budget by any means, and never will be," says Crossley. "The calendar has become a signature, iconic product out there. Beyond that, I think the calendar helps make beautiful art accessible to a wide range of people."
The subject matter in the 2010 calendar is broader than in past years. "The new direction, if you will, is very much intentional in terms of sparking different people to connect with our Dane County home in different ways," says Crossley, "whether it's the cover at the Sun Prairie Corn Festival or the Wienermobiles on East Washington Avenue on the August page."
Some may miss the pastoral scenes of previous editions, but "we've wanted to not feel confined to just realistic landscapes, with the recognition that images of Dane County can represent a lot of different things," says Crossley.
Still, it's a lot of labor for the commission, the artists and volunteer vendors. Like time itself, work on the calendar never stops. "We're working on the 2010 poster and 2011 calendar right now," says Crossley.
The 2010 calendar includes images from artists Sherry Bahr, Barry Carlsen, Bruce Dawson, Donald Haugen, Dagny Myrah, Mary Francis Hill, Linda Koenig, S.V. Medaris, Tom Murphy, Irene Olson, Ann Rutecki, Marcia Sparks, Jeff Stern and Jonathan Wilde.
The calendar is available at locations including Absolutely Art, Century House, the Chazen Museum of Art, the University Book Store and many more. For locations countywide, visit www.culturalaffairscommission.com.