Community Supported Art program offered in New Hampshire

Wednesday November 14, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. -- A program modeled after the Community Supported Agriculture movement will provide shareholders with a boxful of artwork instead of vegetables this holiday season.

The Sharon Arts Center is teaming up with the New Hampshire Institute of Art for its third Community Supported Art project. Instead of buying seasonal food from local farms, CSArt shareholders buy paintings, prints, photographs and other items from artists.

Keri Wiederspahn, the center’s director, said she decided to start the project last fall after hearing about a similar program in Minnesota.

"It just seemed to really fit with our region and demographic here. There’s a lot of buy local buy-in," she said Tuesday. "People are obviously very aware of the necessity for food and, unfortunately, the arts have been on the back burner, so trying to use the agricultural model to promote the arts is a nice way to go about it because it does feed you in different ways as well."

The 10 participating artists include faculty, alumni and students from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. They will receive stipends for each creating 50 unique, limited edition works. Buyers will pay $350 for 10 items, which will be distributed at a "Pick-Up Party" on Dec. 6.

For fall and spring versions of the program, participants paid $330 for nine works of art, which they collected over a three-month span. Wiederspahn said the program attracted a mix of experienced art collectors and those making their first significant purchases.

"There were people who just liked the idea that they didn’t know what to expect," she said. "There’s definitely an element of surprise."

Participants who aren’t thrilled with what they get can make trades on the spot, Wiederspahn said.

"It brings a different component in to the whole notion of collecting," she said. "It brings an element of fun into it."

Gary Samson, chairman of the art institute’s photography program, said he’s excited to be among the 10 artists chosen for the CSArt project. His contribution will be a series of photos taken in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

"It will be the first time I’ve assembled that portfolio and it will be unique," he said. "It will be an opportunity to create a body of work about something I care very deeply about."

He acknowledged that the buyers will be taking a risk, but said he is confident his work will find a good home.

"People who buy into the program obviously care very deeply about art," he said. "From an artist’s point of view, it’s really important to know that your work is going to go to an audience that truly appreciates it."


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