Now you can 'buy' a share of local art, too

Springboard for the Arts, a Minnesota arts development group, came up with the idea of selling prints and paintings the way onions and potatoes are being marketed to urbanites.

Cornelia Peterson/CSArt Colorado
Spring distribution event, 2014.

Shop local. Eat local. And increasingly, collect local. Springboard for the Arts, a St. Paul, Minn., arts development group, hit on the idea five years ago of selling prints and paintings the way onions and potatoes were being marketed to urbanites. 

Today, the Community Supported Art model has spread to more than 50 cities, including Denver; Fargo, N.D.; Lincoln, Neb.; Miami; and Philadelphia, says Springboard’s executive director, Laura Zabel. At a time of hand-wringing about shrinking audiences, the response to CSArt shows that demand exists if ways are found to connect the public to artists, she says.

Here’s how it works: Curators call for proposals and put together groups of a dozen or so artist-producers. For a few hundred dollars, shareholders get a piece or two from each local artist. Administrative and other costs are kept lean so that the bulk of the proceeds goes to artists, who often meet buyers at distribution parties.

Colorado’s project is among the largest with 100 shareholders divided among two groups of 10 artists each. It is in its second year, and is a joint venture of the Denver Botanic Gardens (which has long had a visual arts program alongside its horticultural collections) and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

Laura Truitt, an artist based in Fort Collins, Colo., is making 50 pieces inspired by Google Earth images and by ideas about borders, privacy, and access. She works on two or three a day, and she expects to paint at least 70 to get 50 “good ones” to be distributed Oct. 16 in Boulder.

Jaye Zola of Boulder, a retired social studies teacher, bought $400 shares for both years of the Colorado project. Ms. Zola and her husband have collected art in Santa Fe, N.M., and on international trips, but had not bought much locally until CSArt. “It’s pretty vibrant,” Zola says of the range of contemporary work in the group she belongs to.

Rachel Brand, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, says, “Whether it’s your food or your art, it’s nice knowing where it’s coming from and knowing the producers.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.