Welcome to December

Erik Flesch & Sara Lomasz Flesch

Compiling our back-page Year in Review feature was a sobering exercise this year. It’s always a pleasure to reprint the beautiful work by area artists and photographers that graced our covers, but this year they served to remind us of the emotional roller coaster we’ve all been on in 2020. 

In January, February and March, we were treated to contributions by Rob Steffen, Cynthia Quinn and Ron Lutz II, respectively, and printing and distributing more than 3,500 copies to more than 150 locations, as is normal for the winter season. But as we prepared our April issue, it was already clear that the spring would be anything but normal. We made the decision to embark upon a three-month all-digital publishing campaign (except for print copies mailed to subscribers, advertisers and contributors) for April, May and June, which featured covers by Jennifer Salt, Josh Thompson and Shannon Elizabeth Gardner, respectively. 

This month’s cover art is titled “Fantasy Cabin” by Jeff Jachimiec of Dodgeville. Jeff was born and raised in Chicago. After graduation from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Jeff began printing magazines, catalogs and retail inserts using the gravure printing process. His own print consultant company, Printing Solutions, was launched in 1998. Today Jeff enjoys working with the medium of encaustic. When his artist wife, Sue, was battling breast cancer, and thought she would have to cancel a scheduled show, he jumped in and picked up her brush, so to speak. He taught himself how to paint using her medium. Jeff paints in a charming naive style that captures his heart, innocence and hope. He draws inspiration for his paintings of barns, cottages and wildlife on his travels. To view more of Jeff’s art, see www.jeffjachimiec.com. Many thanks to Jeff for his contribution to our cover! To share art or photography for a future cover, contact us at info@voiceoftherivervalley.com.

When Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order was overturned and businesses and organizations began slowly and safely reopening in June, we resumed printing and distributing — with the support of volunteers Joni and Rick Graves, Linda Kelen, Mark McCauley, Brian Richter and Grace Vosen — albeit on a scaled-back basis (up to 1,300 copies compared to 4,000 copies normal for the summer and fall). The creativity of our contributors has continued to sustain us during these coronatimes, including cover art and photography by Amy Chamberlin, Susan Krause, Dustin Roberts, Marlys Greenhalgh, Don Greenwood and Jeff Jachimiec. You can enjoy all of our 2020 issues at www.voiceoftherivervalley.com.

None of this would be possible, of course, without the support of this year’s advertisers (see the full list on our back cover), but the reality is that the number of businesses, individuals and organizations advertising in these pages decreased by a third compared with 2019. Some businesses have closed or relocated, some seasonal advertisers never opened, annual events critical to the creative economies of our region were canceled, and some advertisers have had to suspend their support for Voice as they focus on their own survival. The adopt-a-business campaign we launched this spring yielded support for three area businesses, and for that we are grateful.

Voice of the River Valley remains an all-volunteer community effort, existing to celebrate the people and events that inspire, inform and enrich life in the Lower Wisconsin and Sugar-Pecatonica River Basins of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. We are committed to our mission and will continue offering a print edition as long as it is financially and logistically feasible. We are delighted to bring you this final issue of 2020 with contributions from Steve Fuller, Doris Green, John Heasley, Jeff Jachimiec, Angie Mitchell, Jennifer Moore-Kerr, Bill Robichaud, Nick Schweitzer, Michael J. Smith and Kathy Steffen.

Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays — and happy reading.