Local artists create farm share for the arts

Ceramic artist Maren Kloppman
Ceramic artist Maren Kloppman is one of nine local artists chosen to participate in a new community art share program. Kloppman is pictured in her new Minneapolis studio and gallery.
Rupa Shenoy/MPR photo

It's become popular to buy shares in local farms that send you boxes of produce. Minnesota artists are launching their own version today. They're calling it an artshare.

The artshare will come in a box. Each box the size of a fruit crate and will contain original art. Even the crate will be a work of art.

Scott Stulen is director of the Community Supported Art program, a joint effort by mnartists.org and Springboard for the Arts.

They're selling fifty art shares at $300 each.

"Each share that's purchased you'll get three boxes," Stulen said. "In those boxes will be three works of art."

The boxes could contain anything from ceremics from and stained glass to tin type photographs and paintings or drawings, Stulen said.

Nearly 175 artists applied for the program. A jury chose nine. Each artist receives $1000. thousand dollars.

Over the summer, shareholders will pick up one box a month at receptions.

They won't know what's in their box until they look inside.

Each box will hold a small art collection, with pieces from different artists in the program.

Stulen says there's a chance a shareholder may like some of the works but be disappointed with others.

"I think part of it is at this price point we're offering this work it isn't a huge loss if it's something you don't like, Stulen said. "But...knowing the artists that were selected for this, the box is maybe 20 percent of the retail of what their normal work would be. So it's a real deal"

Selling art at a steep discount might seem unusual for a program built to support local artists. But that's because the other goal is to attract new collectors.

"Often you think about art collecting is you have to have thousands of dollars to do that. And you really don't," Stulen said. "People who have a couple hundred dollars can really have art from top-notch local artists"

The artshare project's artists are mid-career and established.

Ceramic artist Maren Kloppmann just moved into a larger studio and gallery in Minneapolis.

Kloppman said the recession has changed the playing field for artists.

It's important to prove to more people they can afford art.

"Even if you were at a certain point of establishment you are still in the luxury industry, meaning you are not creating some thing that people need to live or survive," Kloppman said. "The idea of making a living as an artist was questioned in a new way."

Kloppmann said artists have to rethink the way they connect with buyers. She says the artshare program is a good way to reach a wider and different audience --- and reach it in a new way.

"It's so brilliant, in fact, that you want to say 'Haven't we always done this? Isn't this some quirky Minnesota thing we do?" Kloppman said.

Kloppman sees this new program as something that could become an institution.

The project's organizers are already planning for next year.

They hope to include more artists, who will fill even more boxes.

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