For years now, I’ve admired what the Boise Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Idaho, does with its covers. Every week, they feature original art that is unrelated to content. At the end of the year, the art is auctioned off for charity.

This summer we’re going to do our version. With the assistance of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, we’re going to use original submissions by area artists on our cover for 15 weeks, beginning May 25. At the end of the year, the Arts Council will auction the pieces at its annual Holiday Glitter fundraiser. Thirty percent of the auction price will go back to the artist, the rest goes to the Arts Council. It’s a win-win deal for everyone.

We’ve often featured original art on our covers, created by freelancers as well as staff members. One of the most frequent comments we hear is how much people like our covers — or are sometimes outraged by them. Early on, we offended Mayor David Hollister when we portrayed him as a human scale of justice who valued GM more than public health. (We’ve since made up.) Another time we celebrated Valentine’s Day by having the two leading candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, give each other a big, wet kiss. Well, I could go on.

What will be different this summer is the covers will not be tied to a story. In essence, we will not have cover stories. Hurrah! Free at last, free at last from the chains of a story that has to be a certain length, warranted or not. Or stories that are not long enough. This gives us the ability to flex or contract, depending on each week’s needs.

Artists will be unfettered, for the most part. We’ve selected themes for four weeks: Summer begins; Summer ends; Fourth of July; and our annual Cheap Issue, when we reward both readers and advertisers by giving a 50 percent discount on ads, provided they include a coupon.

The rules are posted on the Arts Council’s website, lansingarts.org. We’re ready to accept entries any time via the Arts Council website.

Spring is springing. The Summer of Art is not far behind.

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