The Flying M Coffeehouse’s 24th Valentine for AIDS wrapped up with a great turn-out and fierce bidding again this year.
The annual silent art auction raised more than $1,000 over last year’s total, says Kent Collins, owner of the Downtown Boise coffee shop.
“We can’t ask for more than than,” he says. “This community is always so generous.”
The $26,143 will go Idaho Health and Welfare’s Safety Net for AIDS Program, or SNAP, which offers financial support for everyday expenses —from food to utilities — for people in Idaho living with HIV/AIDS.
Since it began, the event has raised nearly $480,000 for AIDS organizations.
The annual show featured artwork from 260 established and emerging artists who worked in a wide diversity of mediums.
As in the past, it was down to the wire with a crowd packing Flying M for the final bids. Bidding ended at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12.
The end can get pretty intense, says the M’s owner, Kent Collins, told the Statesman before the event.
“People hover near their bids; there’s lots of tension, and you can feel it,” Collins says. “We’ve only had a few problems over the years. I remember one person took the bid sheet and wouldn’t give it back, but mostly people are nice about it.”
Painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics, fiber arts and more filled the M’s walls, shelves, cabinets and window space to capacity for two weeks in February.
There was work by painters Sheri Carter and Jerri Lisk, ceramicists Kerry Moosman and Rick Jenkins, mixed media artists Sue Latta and Laurie Blakeslee, and many others. Individual bids were up across the board. This year’s top bid when to Kate Hill’s stained glass bicycle “Cycle of Love,” which brought in $700. Kerry Moosman’s ceramic vessel came in second, going for $650.
Some of the art was — not surprisingly — political this year, but most of the pieces were about love.
That’s what Flying M founder Lisa Myers envisioned when she created Valentine for AIDS 24 years ago after moving back to the Treasure Valley from Seattle, where she went to college. On her return, she found that two friends from high school had died of HIV/AIDS.
Back in 1993, AIDS was not talked about much in Idaho, and resources for people with the disease were slim. Myers wanted to draw attention to the plight of Idahoans with the disease and send a little love to help them. So a benefit art show themed around Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect thing. It was an instant hit with the community, drawing more and more artists and bidders each year.
In 2006, Myers and her husband Kevin opened the Flying M CoffeeGarage in Nampa. In 2011, they sold the Downtown Flying M to Collins, who was its longtime manager.
When he took over as the big cheese, Collins vowed to keep the popular event intact.
“This really brings our community and our customers together. People have been talking about it since Christmas,” Collins says. “It’s something that this town needs.”