Buy a share for art

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 11:24 AM

Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Pittsboro and environs boast numerous visual art galleries, both public and privately run. Many potential buyers might be put off by the prices of some pieces, or their lack of knowledge.

Some local artists have come together to make the process of collecting and buying visual art less daunting, and more accessible. “Welcome: Art in Your Home” is now selling 50 shares to art buyers. (The base price is $250 a share; an early bird price of $225 is available through June 18.) In exchange for a share, a buyer will get one piece of art from seven local artists, who will deliver the art to them at several pickup events. This model of buying art is patterned after community sustainable agriculture, in which buyers purchase shares in a local farm and receive periodic shipments of fresh produce.
The CSA method “seemed like a good model to get people to buy art and bring it home,” said Jessica Moore, a local artist who created the website Open Art Society, which is selling the shares. “I think people have this idea that art collecting is about investing and then getting money back,” Moore said. “For the average person the purpose of buying art is for yourself, for your own enjoyment. … We need more people buying art around here and this is the way to remove some of those barriers,” she said.
Springboard for the Arts, a non-profit organization in St. Paul, Minnesota, created a kit that other local organizations can use to set up a program. More than 30 organizations across the country have created a CSA-type program. Durham’s program is based on that kit, and it represents the first time this approach to selling and buying visual art has been tried here, Moore said.
A jury of artists, curators and art critics chose the seven artists who are participating in this project. Each item will be hand-made, but given the practical challenges of creating 50 pieces of art, the creators will stick to projects such as prints and other objects that can be turned out quickly. Buyers can expect to see some variations in the work, even though shareholders will all receive the same piece of work, Moore said.
Warren Hicks, a painter and photographer, will be participating in the program, making an abstract black-and-white photograph. He will be participating for the first time in a CSA-type program. “When this came up I jumped right on it because it’s a great program,” Hicks said. He sells a lot of his art from his studio, as well as in galleries. The CSA appealed to him “because the artist does get paid a good amount for the work,” he said.
Buyers from outside the state bought some of the first shares, creating more exposure for Durham artists, and the local arts scene, Hicks said. “Anything that can fuel interest in the arts at a local level is welcome,” he said.
Other artists participating in “Welcome: Art in Your Home” are Tamara Galiano Bagnell, J.R. Butler, Kimberley Pierce Cartwright, Heather Gordon, Gracelee Lawrence and Matt Zigler.

For information about this project, visit