There’s a new type of CSA popping up these days, and while it’s still locally sourced, it doesn’t offer any fresh produce. Traditionally an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, the abbreviation’s last letter now stands for “art.” The basic structure remains the same: members pay an up-front fee, and then arrive at a distribution site to collect their share without knowing what it will contain—the assorted fruits and vegetables have been swapped for sculptures, prints or paintings made by local artists.
The first such organization in New York, Brooklyn’s Community Supported Art + Design (CSA+D), is launching next month. Twelve artists and designers are tasked with creating 50 works each for the initial season, either editions of the same piece or unique artworks for each shareholder. CSA+D founders Dianne Debicella, of the nonprofit Fractured Atlas, and Brooklyn-based designer Jill Allyn Peterson held an open call for up-and-coming artists. From the over 300 entries, jury members Charles Hively (editor of 3×3, The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration), Kathleen Massara (senior editor at Christies.com) and Sue Walsh (senior designer at Milton Glaser Incorporated) selected 24 participants (12 each for the fall and winter seasons).
Members can choose either a half share (containing three pieces for $250) or a full one (with six pieces for $500); each artist will be paid $3,000 for the 50 works they produce. In a phone conversation with Debicella, A.i.A. learned that nearly half of the 100 available shares have already sold, even though only six of the artists have been named: sculptor Katerina Usvitsky, painter Evan Venegas, illustrators Julia Gaultieri and Niv Tishbi, and designers Chiaozza and Hannah June Lueptow. The other participants will be announced in the coming weeks.
For the initial call, CSA+D did not place any geographic restrictions on entrants. Lueptow is based in Providence, R.I., and Tishbi lives in Tel Aviv, but the remaining ten are from New York City. Going forward, the artists will have to live within the city limits. “I think because New York is such a huge city there’s an opportunity for this to expand to something that’s neighborhood specific,” said Debicella.
Art CSAs are indeed growing, as seen in a recent article in the New York Times. Founded by Springboard for the Arts in Minnesota’s Twin Cities three years ago, the movement has since spread to 40 communities across the country, including Pittsburgh; Miami; Lincoln, Neb.; and Fargo, N.D. Springboard for the Arts offers a $45 replication kit for those interested in launching a similar program in their own city.
Debicella sees NewYork as the perfect venue. “There are so many people here who are interested in art and would like to own it, but don’t have an affordable way to do so. It’s a great opportunity for people to get a foothold into the world of collecting and to discover artists that they wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.”
The pick-up events will take place at Recession Art, a gallery in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, and are open to the public. The artists will each be on hand (save for Tishbi), and will have extra copies of their work to sell. This allows members who may desire pieces not included in their share to purchase additional works, and also affords non-members the opportunity to participate. Debicella hopes that having the artists on hand during the distribution will foster a sense of community.
As for occasions when member doesn’t like one of their artworks—a more challenging obstacle for an art CSA than one offering zucchini and kale—they are always welcome to swap with other members during the distribution.