Art Notes: New Group Aims to Sell Artworks by the Bushel
The hierarchical structure of a gallery or museum is one model for the big business of art, a top-down arrangement in which the gallery owner or agent agrees to represent an artist, takes a healthy cut and promotes the artist.
Community Supported Art is another. Based on the community supported agriculture model, in which people buy food from farmers, Community Supported Art brings artists and buyers together in a direct exchange. The artist makes art, and the purchaser buys shares that entitle her to a small, medium or large number of objects. It’s a movement that has begun to take hold across the country in such cities as Minneapolis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Denver and that international Mecca of cool, Brooklyn.
Now a local chapter, CSArt Upper Valley, is just getting off the ground in Woodstock. It’s the first such community-supported art organization in Vermont and New Hampshire.
“The whole idea is to get art into the hands of people in a really interesting and easy way that is very affordable,” said Fiona Davis, who, with multi-media artist Caitlin Eastman and painter Finnie Trimpi, is one of the founders of CSArt Upper Valley. “It’s a way for artists to have access to the purchaser that they don’t generally get, unless they have access to a gallery. We’re narrowing the gap between artist and the purchaser.”
Ten artists, working in stone, ceramics, oils, blown glass, wood, prints and photography, are represented by CSArt Upper Valley. This first group of artists, who include Davis, Eastman and Trimpi, run the gamut from emerging to well established, Davis said. While the three women have made the selection of artists, in the future a juried panel will decide the artists and works. The women included their art in this first go-round because, Davis said, “going into this as an initial outlay we were three artists we didn’t have to pay.”
For $100, $250 and $500, respectively, a buyer gets a “peck,” or two pieces of art; a “half-bushel,” or five pieces of art; or a “bushel,” or 10 pieces of art. There will be two events at which buyers can pick up their pieces, the first on July 18 and the second on Sept. 5 at locations yet to be announced. The pieces are commissioned by CSArt Upper Valley in limited edition runs; each artist has been asked to make 24 pieces total, 12 per event.
Buyers don’t choose which pieces they’d like to own; Davis, Trimpi and Eastman select them. The idea is to give buyers a happy surprise. This is why the logo for the CSArt Upper Valley website is a kohlrabi, the vegetable that sometimes shows up in CSA food shares, and can provoke bafflement, delight or something in between.
“Part of the curatorial responsibility lies in ensuring the pieces keep with the spirit of the program, and that people leave with work they love,” says a statement on the CSArt Upper Valley website.
To that end, Davis said, the first group of artworks contains nothing too avant-garde, or anything remotely vulgar. “We’ve deliberately decided to start off with slightly conventional art,” Davis said.
Kenneth Hamblin is a Hartland stonemason who sells lamps, vases, trays and birdbaths made from fieldstone online and at the Norwich Farmer’s Market. He’s also one of the artists represented by CSArt Upper Valley.
“People are definitely intrigued” when they hear about community-supported art, he said. It’s a new concept for many, and he doesn’t expect to make a fortune doing it. “I’m thinking in the end it will snowball, and word will get out, and it will get more traffic,” he said.
In the first go-round, artists will be paid once they sell their work; CSArt Upper Valley takes half of the profit from each piece and will funnel it back into paying the artists a stipend of $600 next year.
“We arranged this specifically because the motivating factor was not about making a business out of it, because if we were we certainly wouldn’t do it this way,” Davis said. “What drew us to it was the accessibility to people purchasing your work. It’s an experiment, it’s a bit of a risk. We were very clear with our artists about what that was. It’s an interesting model and it’s not for everybody.”
CSArt Upper Valley also took advantange, Davis said, of the L3C model, a low-profit, limited liability entity that is designed to help smaller, community-based ventures with missions of social engagement. Vermont was the first state to pass the L3C model into law in 2008.
“It allows you to make a very small profit that can be turned back into the business. It’s one step up from a non-profit,” Davis said. The hope is that once buyers and artists become known to each other, new markets might emerge for collectors and artists.
“If people get to know it they’d really appreciate it. People who collect like to help emerging artists,” Davis said.
A show of woven textiles opens on Saturday at the Ledyard Gallery in the Howe Library ’s Ledyard Gallery, with a reception from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Weaver Kristina Burnett has reworked some of her favorite images from the vast, rich legacy of Persian art into weavings. “Out of Persia! Images from Tile and Textile Hooked in Wool” continues through July 23.
Call for Artists
The Chandler Gallery in Randolph is looking for entries for its fall show “Finding a Common Thread: A Contemporary Fiber Art Show,” which runs from Sept. 21 through Nov. 10. Mixed media submissions are accepted. Deadline for submissions is Aug. 29. Submit digital images to email@example.com. Include dimensions of work, information about type of fiber used, and a short statement of intent. Contact Janet Cathey at the email address above or at 802-730-6992.
Today at 4 p.m. in the Hood Museum ’s auditorium, Michael Taylor, the director of the Hood , will moderate a panel discussion on “Art and a Sense of Place,” with former Dartmouth College artists-in-residence Varujan Boghosian, Rebecca Purdum and James McGarrell. A reception will follow in Kim Gallery.
AVA Gallery , Lebanon. No fewer than five exhibits are on show through the middle of July. The paintings of Charlie Hunter, the multimedia installation of Benjamin Entner, the works on paper of Carolyn Shattuck and the photographs of Robert Gold are up through July 16. Steve Chases’ acrylics and oils are on view through July 19.
Aidron Duckworth Art Museum , in Duckworth’s former home and studio on Bean Road in Meriden, hosts “How Colors Sing,” a show of landscape drawings and abstract paintings by Duckworth, up through Nov. 2. The textiles of Randolph artist Bhakti Zier are also on view through July 27, as are the c eramics of Mark Shapiro. The sculptures of Bob Shannahan and Fitzhugh Karol are on view through Nov. 2.
Artistree , Woodstock. “All Day” is an innovative installation in which the gallery’s four rooms have been transformed into representations of Morning, Mid-Day, Evening and Night. The show runs through July 11.
Art on the River Gallery , Springfield. “802: Just Vermont,” a photography show by artists Goldie May and John Sinclair , continues through August 19.
Big Town Gallery , Rochester. Collage work by Marcus Ratliff ends its run on Saturday.
Chandler Gallery , Randolph. “Floral Seductions,” a show including the works of nearly 30 artists, runs through Aug . 24.
Cider Hill Art Gallery , Windsor. Egg tempera paintings by Gary Milek, co-owner with Sarah Milek of the gardens and gallery, are up through the summer.
Collective Gallery-Art of Craft , Woodstock features the work of jeweler Joy Raskin, photographer Miranda Hammond and leathersmith Kim Rilleau through Monday.
Converse Free Library , Lyme. The Betty Grant Gallery in the Lyme Library exhibits drawing and paintings by Carole-Anne Centre through July 31.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center , Lebanon. The spring arts shows include work by painter Georgina Forbes, digital painter Gloria King Merritt and photographer Hunter Paye, as well as participants in the yearly Employee & Volunteer Art Show.
Great Hall , Springfield , Vt. Jack Rowell’s exhibition of photographs of The Hale Street Gang can be seen at the Great Hall in Springfield t hrough Oct. 10. Also exhibiting is Randolph designer and artist Phil Godenschwager.
Hood Museum of Art , Hanover. The Hood Museum of Art hosts “The Art of Weapons: Selections from the African Collection,” on view through Dec . 20, and “In Residence: Contemporary Artists at Dartmouth,” on view through July 6.
Long River Studio , Lyme. The landscape paintings of Jean Gerber are on view through mid-July. The gallery is also featuring new works by Elizabeth Mayor of Hanover, Gillian Tyler of Fairlee, and Matthew Brown and Barbara Newton, both of Lyme.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site , Cornish. “Ceremonial Concealment,” a show by Elaine Bradford , is in the Picture Gallery at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site through July 6.
Scavenger Gallery , White River Junction. A rtist Judith Vivell shows “Never seen again, an Homage.”
Towle Hill Studio , Corinth features the work of weavers Mary Hays, Kathryn Price and Betsy Wing until July 25. For information go to towlehillstudio.com.
Two Rivers Printmaking Studio , White River Junction. Prints by artist Isabelle O’Connor are on view through Monday.
V ermont Supreme Court , Montpelier: Judith Vivell, whose work can be seen at the Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction, also has an exhibition of large-scale portraits of birds in the lobby of the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier, through tomorrow.
Nicola Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.