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Art imitates produce with community-supported subscription model inspired by farms

  • Jennifer Stark looks through her materials while making mixed media collages to contribute to a new artists CSA for the Newport Library Arts Center at her home in Newport, N.H., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Those who purchase a share will receive five of the four by four inch works by contributing artists. “I just think it’s exciting to be able to do something community-wise right now,” said Stark, who is feeling isolated from her friends during the coronavirus pandemic. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Jennifer Stark dips into her glue while attaching a piece of magazine paper to a mixed mixed media collage at her home in Newport, N.H., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Stark, who is art director for Kearsage and Kid Stuff magazines, and teaches art at the Newport Montessori School, plans to contribute as many as 70 pieces to the Library Arts Center CSA project. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jennifer Stark looks through several pieces she has prepared for the Newport Library Arts Center CSA at her home in Newport, N.H., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. the small squares will be mounted on blocks before being distributed to share-holders. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/8/2020 9:02:10 PM
Modified: 12/8/2020 9:02:04 PM

NEWPORT, N.H. — In a year when traditional engagement with art has been put on hiatus, the Library Arts Center has sought ways to connect artists with buyers. And it’s found inspiration in an: farms.

The “Art CSA Program” where people sign up for “shares” and receive a regularly delivered piece of art, works similarly to the community-supported agriculture programs that have been a lifeline to the agriculture industry in the pandemic. For $75, participants will get one piece of original art created by one of five area artists each month beginning in January. There will be 50 shares available. Each piece will be 4 by 4 inches and put on a wood display board.

“So much ... local artwork sells by person-to-person interactions at events,” said Kate Luppold, executive director of the Newport-based nonprofit organization. “That’s not really possible right now.”

Artists contributing to the Art CSA include Jennifer Stark, of Newport; Patti Warren, of Lebanon; Elizabeth Moore, of Grantham; Abigail McCoy, of Newport; and Kait Armstrong, of Andover, N.H.

“We were trying to think of ways we could connect artists in our community right now,” Luppold said. “We realized if we sent art directly to people, it could help with that.”

While the Library Arts Center is still holding its annual Gallery of Gifts exhibit, many gallery shows have gone virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Festivals and fairs — another source of income for artists — have largely been canceled or scaled back.

“It will be a nice income for those of us who haven’t been able to show and go to retail outlets,” said Warren, a watercolorist who has taught classes for the Library Arts Center over Zoom, where she draws students from Manchester and elsewhere in New Hampshire.

She has already gotten started on the watercolor paintings. Some take an hour and a half to complete, while others she returns to day after day until she’s satisfied with the result.

“The minute you give yourself a boundary, it becomes a challenge,” Warren said. “My artwork is going into potentially 50 different homes.”

The Art CSA may appeal to people looking for a low-stakes entry into buying from local artists without committing to a larger piece. With so many people staying home, they might also enjoy receiving an extra package in the mail.

“It’s really nice because it’s a way you can get a taste of all these artists,” Luppold said. “Also quite practically everyone can fit a little piece somewhere.”

Luppold also stressed the importance of supporting community artists, and the center is paying participants upfront for their work.

“It’s so important for artists to have their next project, to have something that they’re looking forward to and ruminating on,” Luppold said. “We’re seeing a really exciting potential for it to grow.”

The Art CSA has prompted Stark to set aside time for her abstract collage art. During the pandemic, she has been helping care for her two young grandchildren and she hasn’t had many hours to devote to new projects.

“With this little project I was like, ‘OK, this is a size I can handle,’ ” Stark said. “I jumped right in and I got really excited, art-wise.”

A lot of Stark’s work includes bright colors and images. For this project, she’s working with bright colors and shapes, putting together “visual puzzles” that she hopes will delight CSA participants.

“I’d really like the viewer to look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s pretty,’ or, ‘Those colors really speak to me,’ and have that positive response,” Stark said. “In these COVID times, that’s important to people. Anything that would uplift people is something that I want to be involved in.”

To sign up for the Art CSA Program, visit libraryartscenter.org.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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