New Take On Collecting Gives Donors A 'Taste' Of Local Art

Jul 30, 2013

Charlotte artist Sharon Dowell is one of nine participating in the new Community Supported Art program where people can buy a 'share' and get surprise boxes of original art.
Credit Julie Rose

A new take on art collecting launched in Charlotte Tuesday morning with the Community Supported Arts program.  It's a spin on a long-standing tradition in farm-fresh produce courtesy of the Arts and Science Council.

There's a way to buy produce other than going to the grocery store or farmer's market. You can become a member of a farm co-op and when the harvest comes, you get a box on your doorstep of whatever's in season that week.

Part of the fun is the surprise of discovery, says Katherine Mooring of the Arts and Science Council: "That first time, you open your box and you're like, kale?! Or Swiss chard, or whatever that foreign ingredient to you might be, by the end of the season you're like 'Oh my gosh I have to have more of that!'"

Mooring is in charge of a new program in Charlotte to do the same thing, but with art. For $400, people can join the co-op and get a surprise box containing three works of art, three months in a row.

"What's kind of fun about this concept is you are getting smaller tastes - to play on the food analogy," says Mooring. "You find something, you get a taste for it and you're like, 'I want more. I want to find out more about this person, this art, this process, this medium.'"

Nine Charlotte artists have been selected for the program's first season of surprise boxes. Each must create 50 small originals that will be distributed at a series of mixers in the Fall where co-op members can pick up their boxes and mingle with the artists.

Sharon Dowell is working on a series of 50 small paintings for a new art "co-op" being started by the Arts and Science Council.
Credit Julie Rose

Sharon Dowell is one of the more established artists of the group. A 12" x 12" painting in her signature bold colors and architectural themes goes for about $500.  But she's signed on to do all 50 small paintings for the Community Supported Art program for a total fee of just $1,750.  Merely covering the cost of her materials will be a challenge. But Dowell hopes participating will pay off in other ways.

"Hopefully it'll be some good exposure," says Dowell. "Who knows? I might meet some new art collectors."

Inaugural membership – or shares, as they're called – went on sale Tuesday morning in Charlotte's new local art co-op.  By late September, the shareholders will be harvesting their first crop of original work, fresh off the easel.