When you think of CSA, this may not be what comes to mind.
But the Dayton Visual Arts Center has drawn inspiration from the concept of “Community Supported Agriculture” to cultivate a program for “Community Supported Art.”
“Our CSA is really special and a powerful testament to how Dayton is unique as an arts community and the art world in general,” says Eva Buttacavoli, DVAC’s executive director. “This is one of only 10 or so similar programs in the nation.”
HOW IT WORKS
In an agricultural CSA, subscribers receive a regular box of produce — typically fruits and veggies.
In DVAC’s new local spin-off, introduced last summer, art lovers purchase a “share” that supports local artists.
In its inaugural year, six artists were each given $1,500 and commissioned to create 50 original works of art.
“We then offered the public to buy a share — just like a share in the garden where you get the veggies delivered,” explains Buttacavoli. "The shares were $650 and each patron received six original works of art. You knew approximately what you’d get from representative images on our website and posts of works in progress on Facebook and Instagram. We sold 38 shares.”
THE FIRST ROUND OF CSA ARTISTS
Among those selected last year were photographer Paula Kraus, a teacher at Stivers School for the Arts, and Joel Whitaker, former art department chair at the University of Dayton. “CSA offers quality art work from respected artists to a wider public who might not frequent galleries,” Whitaker says.
Brooke Medlin, one of last year’s artists, says she’s a loner by nature but pushed herself for the project. “I was able to spend several months focused on the pieces to be included and stretch myself as an artist among a community of like-minded people by attending the CSA events throughout the length of the project,” Medlin says. “It was a challenge that helped me see what I was capable of, and I was really happy to be a part of it.”
The shareholders were happy as well. Arundi Venkayya of Bellbrook says it fills her with joy to have unique items in her home. “The best part is the honor and privilege of knowing some of the artists personally. It adds even more meaning to these beautiful pieces,” she says. “The CSA is particularly fun because it’s a lovely combination of artists whose work we know and some we don’t. “
THIS SUMMER’S CROP
Four artists have been chosen for CSA Round 2. This time around, patrons who purchase one “share” at $350 will receive four works of art — two photos and two prints. Those who donate $650 will receive framed artwork.
“This is unique. It’s what high-end print galleries do when they sell ‘editions,’ ” Buttacavoli explains. “As far as we know, no one else regionally is doing this. It’s an entrepreneurial grassroots effort.”
If it sounds intriguing, you can view examples of each artist’s work on the DVAC website. Keep in mind that the images shown are not the art CSA shareholders will receive but are examples of the type of work these artists create.
Artists who have been invited to participate in DVAC CSA Round 2 include:
Amy Powell, an award-winning photographer based in Dayton, has been featured in “Time” and “Elle” magazines and created an Instagram series for the New York Times.
She says organizing the frame and composing a subjective personal narrative has empowered her when she has felt powerless.
Amy, who received a BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design and an MFA/MA from The Ohio State University, says being chosen as an artist and being given the freedom to do what she wanted made her feel like her ideas matter and that she’s valued and supported in her own community.
“Making a work of art for collectors in the place I live has been meaningful in that it gave me a genuine sense of belonging in Dayton,” she says.
Printmaker Danielle Rante — who works in drawing, painting, printing, paper-cutting, installations and tableaus of small organic objects — presents images of the meeting place between the physical environment we encounter and the narratives of a place.
Danielle lives and works in Columbus and is currently an Assistant Professor of Printmaking and Drawing at Wright State University.
“As someone that likes to work larger, the CSA size allowed me to be more thoughtful in how I approach my concept on a smaller scale,” says Rante. “I also think it’s fantastic that new collectors, who might feel intimidated by the space commitment or cost of a single large work, can start by getting a group of high-caliber works while supporting the local arts for a very reasonable amount.”
Photographer Francis Schanberger of South Park has been taking pictures since fourth grade when he presented a homemade, long focal length pinhole camera as his science project.
An early part of his photographic career was spent working as a laboratory assistant at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine where, after hours, he would make cyanotype photograms in the laboratory using equipment and supplies that were close at hand.
Since receiving his MFA from the Ohio State University in 2002, Schanberger’s work has been characterized by an interest in historical photographic processes and staged self-portraiture.
In 2011, he was commissioned by the Ohio Arts Council to create seven awards using the Van Dyke Brown process for the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts.
Being in the same company as this year’s other artists, Schanberger says, is humbling.
“I wanted to challenge myself to create a photograph on paper that would stand out with the tactile quality of Andrea’s and Danielle’s work so I went back to the darkroom and printed on 25-year old paper,” he explains. “The color and texture are something that can’t be recreated digitally and it is sort of an anniversary present to myself. I began my photographic career fairly young but my first time in the darkroom is what made me choose this medium — the smell of chemicals, the safelights and the magic of a print appearing in a tray from a blank sheet of paper.”
Andrea Starkey is a Dayton-based print-maker known for her detailed prints of trees using the ancient art form of Moku hanga. (Moku hanga is the Japanese term for woodblock print.)
She finds inspiration for her artwork from both nature and the natural materials used in its creation. When she’s not creating artwork, Andrea works professionally as an architectural renderer and graphic designer.
PICKING THE PRODUCE
Those who purchase shares this summer will pick up their crop of art at a “Harvest Party” at Dayton Beer Company on Tuesday, Aug. 8. The public is invited, too.
Satisfied buyer Stephanie Precht of Dayton says this type of art collecting is innovative and fun, and at the end of the day, is also about supporting artists in our community. “I travel a lot and love buying art to bring home,” she says. “But just like I prefer to buy directly from the farmers at Second Street Market who grow my vegetables, I want to support the artists who live and work in my community. Art makes my city and my life more vibrant; I don’t ever want that to go away.”
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