A History of CATALYST Covers

By Polly Mottonen

The first thing people say when I tell them I am CATALYST’s art director is “How do you find those great covers?” Truth be told, they find me.
Over the years we’ve been wrapped in the artwork of young (at the time) art students like David Habben and and Wendy Ajax; teachers like Susan Makov, François Camoin and Patrick Eddington. Cultural icons and legends like Alex Grey, Carl Jung (yes, that Carl Jung); even Everett Ruess.

Jann Haworth (co-creater of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover) popped in her “nudies” cover. Her corset sculpture was well received, although another cover showing a real life “bra” prompted one distributer to toss us out. Some folks can be a little prudish, you know. It’s a line we are aware of. For every cover selected there are a number rejected. Oh, the hundreds of covers that might have been.

Dan Cummings is a perennial cover boy and has a special place in our hearts along with local heavyweights Edie Roberson, Carel Brest van Kempen, Willa Marie Huelskamp, Ric and Marcee Blackerby, Randall Lake, Nathan Florence, Trent Alvey, and my aces in the hole Chris Miles and David Wilder. (Always tailor-made for us!)

We are sometimes timely (Scott Siedman’s painting of Obama, “The Man from Illinois” in 2008), sometimes silly (Keith Carlsen’s “Cooped Up”—affectionately known around the office as “Underpants Boy”) but always pick-up-able!

Photographers Sallie Shatz, John deJong, Carol Koleman, Pax Rasmussen and even myself (Dad walking through the woods is my favorite)mix things up.

My most memorable cover hunt conversation was with a then little known artist (now Utah’s artistic treasure) Pilar Pobil, explaining to me why she would not be sending me slides. “you really must see my house. My art is here!” (If you know Pilar, this makes perfect sense and I’m so glad she insisted.)

Repeat featured artists Bradford Overton, Dana Ballard, Kim Riley, Meri DeCaria, Jean Arnold, Stephanie St. Thomas, Kindre Fehr, Kinde Nebeker, Heather Campbell, Karen Horne, Laurie Lisonbee, Sandy Parsons, Dennis Mecham, Ed Bateman, Sunny Strasberg—all so different but alike in that we fell in love with them. Really, this is the only criterian for being selected as a CATALYST cover. (Sending good chocolate helps though… just ask fabulous landscape cover guy Roydon Card.)

Polly Plummer Mottonen has been Catalyst’s art director for over 20 years… or 240 covers.


This article was originally published on July 31, 2012.