Planting a Sustainable Crop of Local Art

May 24, 2013

Lexington's Art League in Castlewood Park
Credit Lexington Art League

An initiative in Lexington adds meaning to the phrase ‘growing local artists.’  Learning a lesson from the agriculture community, the Lexington Art League is launching its own C-S-A.  Typically, C-S-A is short for Community Supported Agriculture.  But,  in this case it stands for “Community Supported Art.”

The aim is to get more local art into the hands of Kentuckians.  Lexington Arts League Exhibition and Program Director Becky Alley says their C-S-A is modeled after a non-profit organization in Minnesota, called ‘Springboard for the Arts.’

“They really want it to be a self sustaining model, so they discourage financial sponsors.  They discourage grant support for the project.  What it’s supposed to be is a community supporting their local artists directly,” said Alley.

It’s accomplished through purchasing shares for 400 dollars each.   The money pays for artists, marketing, and administrative costs.   Each shareholder will receive a box of original, local art created specifically for this program.     Alley says the box will include sculptures, photographs, block prints, paintings,  shadow boxes, music, poems, and coffee mugs.

“You’ll get to know a little bit about each artist.  So, you’ll know who made the work.  You’ll know their story.  You’ll know about the work.  So we’ll put some information in there,” added Alley.

One participating artist is John Lackey who does everything from large landscape paintings to ‘stop motion movies.’  For the C-S-A, Lackey is doing what’s described as an ‘improv abstract linoleum block print.’

“And I’m gonna cover a block with pencil, with graphite and then just carve out of it blindly without putting a design in first. I kind of go back and forth between landscape and abstract and try to combine the two.  They don’t always go together as well as I would like but it’s a nice little lifeline experiment,” said Lackey.

By offering limited editions, Lackey says this project makes itself unique.   Half jokingly, he says, he would like to buy a share so he can enjoy art produced by other local artists.  Lackey believes the Community Supported Art program could certainly boost art awareness.

“I think it’s getting better, but there’s so much going on in the world, it gets a little harder to get people’s attention.  But, I think this is a great way of doing it.  It packages it.  I makes it quantifiable and understandable.  It shows people that they have permission to buy art,” said Lackey.

Lexington musician Matt Duncan describes his music as reminiscent of 60’s and 70’s  R-and-B that includes as he puts it, ‘a little bit of crooning.’   And instead of a C-D or MP3 download, the 29-year-old Duncan will put some vinyl in the box.

“It’s a new song.  I wrote it just for this project.  And soon as I get it done, I’m gonna’ have a seven inch record made, a 45, and it’s gonna be a limited edition that just goes in the C-S-A with all the other art,” said Duncan.

Duncan predicts this local project will introduce many people to new art forms.

“One thing it will hopefully do, it will pull in people that are interested in different aspects, different arts.  You know, people who might be more into visual art or into music or into poetry.  Hopefully, it will bring people in and sort of expose them to these other mediums,” added Duncan.

Only 50 shares will be sold in Lexington’s first Community Supported Art Program.  But, the Lexington Art League’s Becky Alley hopes it’ll work to set the C-S-A in motion.

“If this really takes hold and people are excited about it, then we could have a new crop in the fall, which we’re actually planning.  There will be a new crop in the fall.  And hopefully, a new crop in the spring, summer, and fall and this will just continue indefinitely,” said Alley.

The culmination comes July 26th. That’s the date for the pick-up party where shareholders can get their box of art and meet participating artists.

Those artists are Stacey Chinn, Matt Duncan, Darrell Kincer, John Lackey, Marco Logsdon, Jenni Phillps, Amelia Stamps, Accents Publishing, and Alex Brooks and Rebecca Howell.