Community Supported Art, Montrose, CO


Community Supported Art, Montrose, CO

Public art helps communities, as shown in this Mirror file photo of Ouray’s Paint Out on Main Street; now communities can help artists through CSA’s.

REGIONAL—(March 16) Anyone who has ever joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project knows the joy of paying a set fee, and receiving a regular, delicious box of fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm in return. Just imagine if that box contained a one-of-a-kind painting or sculpture instead.

Community Supported Art is the concept, and the art-friendly community of Durango is giving it a try–some entrepreneurial local artists have adopted the CSA concept, and are offering affordable shares to supporters of the arts.

CSA Durango is the brainchild of the artists of &Durango, a cooperative gallery located at 1027 Main Avenue, where a group of five artists share space to create and show their work. In an effort to encourage local shoppers to purchase local art, CSA Durango artists began offering $300 shares in March, and have already sold more than half of the available shares. In return, shareholders will receive eight works of art at four “pick-up” parties scattered throughout the season. With eight artists taking part, the pieces will be eclectic and diverse.

“We have had a really good reception so far,” artist and organizer Scott Dye said. “All of the artists are very excited—we will continue to sell shares through May 1. There are five artists who share the studio, and we have invited three others to join us in the CSA.”

The group had been kicking the idea around for some time, after learning of it from other groups across the country. CSA’s have been used to fund the arts in larger cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, and there is a similar project being implemented in Boulder, Dye noted.

Ridgway sculptor Michael McCullough, whose Firehouse studio is located on Lena Street by the park in Ridgway, and whose bronze works can be seen in communities throughout the San Juans and Uncompahgre Valley, believes that the Community Supported Art concept has great potential.

“What a fun idea,” McCullough said. “If you have somebody passionate and coordinated to run the whole thing—to decide on how many shares, promote the idea, and manage the money—it could really work. It has to be easy for artists who are already busy to participate and be successful; a motivator, instigator and coordinator rolled into one is what it would take—but if you try to get a busy artist to organize parties, set fees and handle the money—not likely!”

Here in Montrose, Gallery owner Amy Harmsen of Canyon Gallery (300 East Main St.) believes that the CSA idea could be used to great advantage.

“I really do like the idea of this,” Harmsen said, “and I think it could prove to be a great vehicle to promote local artists and raise funds for public art works in our community. I would attempt to reach from Telluride to Grand Junction and over to Gunnison for artists to participate. This could become quite a signature event for Montrose.”