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Oct
17
2021
From The Print Last Week

Local artists Selena Loomis, left, and Jaclyn Stephens are spearheading a new way for area residents to enjoy artisanal handmade art: a subscription-based program called CSArt. By signing up for a share with CSArt, this year’s shareholders will receive three boxes brimming with locally made works of art meant for domestic beautification. The program is the first of its kind in Yellow Springs. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Community Supported Art— ‘Shares’ connect artists, patrons

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What do a broom maker, a fiber artist, a ceramicist and an illustrator have in common?

They are all among the kinds of artists to be featured in an innovative project focused on bringing locally-made artwork into the homes of Yellow Springs and beyond.

Developed last year by villagers Selena Loomis and Jaclyn Stephens, and launching for its inaugural season this summer, the Yellow Springs-based community supported art program — or CSArt, as Loomis and Stephens are calling it — will provide art lovers with a new way to support independent makers and artists.

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A handmade broom by John Stathopoulos of Sweeping Jone in Athens, OH.

“Yellow Springs is a town chock-full of artists and art-supporters, and hopefully this project can help it stay that way,” Loomis, a quiltmaker, said in a recent interview with the News.

Following the subscription-based model of community supported agriculture programs from around the world, whereby community members buy their produce directly from farmers throughout the growing season, CSArt will link its shareholders directly to artists.

Here’s how it works: community members who purchase a share from this year’s CSArt program will receive three monthly boxes brimming with unique works of art — from a handmade broom and original photography prints, to colorful fiberworks and ornate ceramics — on three separate occasions this summer. Physically distant weekend pickups will coincide with the full moons of June, July and August.

The final day to subscribe for a membership share in CSArt is Friday, May 14.

The three-month-long share has a standard cost of $230. A $130 “equity share” is available for those less financially privileged, as well as a $330 “pay-it-forward” share.

“This welcomes buyers to consider where they lie on this scale and what they might have access to that others don’t, and vice versa,” Loomis explained.

As project co-founder Stephens, a mixed media artist, put it in an email to the News, this pilot season of the project is designed to spotlight and financially support a “wide range of artistries and artists.”

Quilts by Selena Loomis of Yellow Springs.

Both she and Loomis have hopes that these currently “under-recognized makers” will gain greater notoriety among local art circles through the project.

Each of the three boxes shareholders receive will feature works from several of the ten participating artists from the immediate area and southern Ohio. They will include art objects made by villagers Loomis, Stephens, Rose Pelzl, Jordan Calderone-Mapel and Angie Hsu; Olivia Minella, Mark Albain, Cereal Box Studio and Jessica Whittington of Cincinnati; and John Stathopoulos of Athens.

“The CSArt group [of artists] this year highlights emerging voices from many different backgrounds, with different practices, in order to seek out interesting connections between works that might not normally be considered in space together,” Loomis said.

As Loomis and Stephens explained, all art objects included in member shares are created and curated specifically for this project.

“We’re offering whatever is ‘ripening’ in the artists’ studios right now,” Loomis said. “It’s all limited edition work, not available through other channels, that’s intended for use, adornment or display in domestic spaces. All of the work will be ready to hang or use right away.”

Stephens echoed Loomis’ sentiment. She also believes CSArt provides artists with a novel opportunity to innovate.

Angie Hsu and her ceramics of Overlap Craft, in Yellow Springs.

“When share members sign up, the artists [will] see that people are lining up for future creations, rather than what they’ve already created,” she said. “This shift may seem small, but to artists, this is fuel for new ideas to emerge.” 

Loomis,  a 2017 Antioch College graduate, first conceived the idea for CSArt alongside Stephens, an artist, farmer and writer currently living in the village, right around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said they believe that CSArt has the potential to be cathartic and enriching for both the artists and those interested in art, given the context of a world still caught in the midst of the pandemic.

“This project is all about making our homes feel good and great and magical again after a lot of us have spent many months there — not alway by choice, and not always in the best headspace,” Loomis said. “When we decided to put this on, many artists — myself included — were scared that opportunities would completely dry up and the pandemic-induced economic downturn would translate to no one buying art for a long while.”

“We thought this project might give [artists] a tangible reason to make their work even when things felt bleak, and offer an audience for that work to end up in,” they added.

Loomis told the News that the inspiration for Yellow Springs’ own CSArt program came from a nonprofit in Minnesota called Springboard for the Arts. That organization, like CSArt, works to connect artists directly with their communities. Springboard for the Arts’ website describes its operational model as an “economic and community development organization” that helps “artists make a living and a life.”

Photography by Mark Albain of Cincinnati.

Beyond being guided by the principles set out by the program in Minnesota, CSArt abides by the artistic philosophies of Loomis’ container program, “tend space.” Loomis had graduated from Antioch and was looking for another “supportive, feedback-filled community” like the one Antioch offered. They formed “tend space” to fill that gap.

According to its website, “tend space” is an “ongoing work-in-process” that seeks to “cultivate community art and art community in rural Ohio.” At present, “tend space” does not exist as a physical -location.

“I believed this community could benefit from a nontraditional art space,” they said of “tend space.” “[Yellow Springs] already has many wonderful art spaces and eateries that feature local art, but I firmly believe there can never be too many places designed for creative work to thrive.”

And as Loomis and Stephens see it, the CSArt program carries out that mission of providing area makers with a new avenue to have their work recognized outside of the typical gallery spaces around the -village.

“CSArt is an unexpected way to honor the ‘tend space’ goals of celebrating local artists in many mediums, from many backgrounds, and inviting artists a little further away — like Cincinnati and Athens — into the fold of our little village, all while making work in the context of real, everyday life,” Loomis explained.

To sign up for a member share of this year’s Yellow Springs community supported arts program, or to learn more about all of the participating artists featured in the program, visit http://www.tendspace.com. The final day to subscribe is Friday, May 14.

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