It’s hard to resist a mystery box.
From “Let’s Make a Deal” to your local carnival midway, the lure of what could be is often enough to make otherwise-rational people make irrational decisions. In those cases, it’s usually better to steer clear and stay “outside the box.”
But CSArt Durango is different. These mystery boxes always have a pleasant surprise.
“It’s a great way to get art into your hands at a good price,” said Scott Dye, one of the founders of CSArt Durango.
The concept is simple and proven. Like the Community Supported Agriculture programs that are seemingly ubiquitous in towns large and small nationwide, shareholders make a one-time investment and then spend the year waiting for their next mystery box of goodies. In the case of CSAg, they get a box of veggies. CSArt is even less predictable.
“People don’t know what they’re going to get – arugula one week, kale the next. Except in this case it’s different artists and different art,” said Shay Lopez, one of eight artists who created 30 pieces for the inaugural year of CSArt Durango.
Here’s how CSArt worked this year. The eight artists – Dye, Lopez, Bethany Bachmann, Elizabeth Kinahan, Clint Reid, Miki Harder, Tim Kapustka and Crystal Hartman – each created 30 original or limited edition pieces of art. Some did paintings, some sculpture, some jewelry, some prints.
Thirty shareholders paid $300 each and the artists held four pickup parties throughout the year; the first at Studio &, next at the Rochester Hotel, Animas Valley Farms in September, and the final pickup party was held Saturday at Durango Discovery Museum.
At each pickup party, the shareholders received a box with artwork by two of the artists. By Saturday, that gave each shareholder eight pieces of original or limited edition art for $34.50 apiece – a bargain by any measure. And each also came with a gift from local businesses – a Local First coupon book, books from Maria’s Bookshop, organic produce from Animas Valley Farms and a growler of beer from Brew Pub & Kitchen.
The 30 shares went quickly this year – before the first pickup party at & – and Kapustka said there will likely be at least 40 shares available when 2014 CSArt Durango resumes next spring. If interest exceeds even that threshold, more artists will be invited to participate.
“I loved CSArt, and I am a big fan of what & does,” said Haz Said, one of the lucky 2013 shareholders. “CSArt seemed a great way to discover and ‘acquire’ art made by neighbors. It was that and more.”
Fellow artist John Grow is an equally avid supporter of his peers and also purchased a share of 2013 CSArt.
“In return for a little support, artists deliver more insightful, surprising, local-specific fun than any other community investment. They can’t wait to offer the next amazing thing, but we have to help,” Grow said.
Kapustka said he’s not surprised at the quick success of the program as the artists were simply following a successful formula.
“It’s a developed channel for agriculture, so we’re not reinventing that,” Kapustka said. “It’s a proven method to distribute fruits and vegetables, and we can adapt it to our product, which is art. It’s not that big of a surprise – it’s been tried in another arenas, too.”
CSArt was profiled in an August article in The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/19fh6v0).
The artists will hold a group show Jan. 24 at & and will provide details as well as a call to artists for the 2014 version of CSArt Durango.