MEMPHIS, TN (September 22, 2017) – ArtsMemphis and The CLTV announced today that they have begun selling “shares” in a forthcoming collection of artwork by local artists of color. It’s all part of an innovative art-distribution model called Community Supported Art, or “CSA.” Much like agriculture CSAs, art CSAs rely on share purchases by a community of stakeholders. But instead of receiving kale or cauliflower, shareholders in art CSAs receive locally sourced works of art.
Last year, ArtsMemphis launched Memphis’ very first art CSA, with an eye toward cultivating new collectors and connecting them with local artists. It was a huge success. They sold every available share, and many of the buyers had never before purchased work by the participating artists. For year two of the program, ArtsMemphis is partnering with The CLTV (“The Collective”), a coalition of black Memphis artists. Together, they have commissioned CSA works from three black artists: Lawrence Matthews III, Matthew Thomas, and Felicia Wheeler. This year’s CSA collections will include a work of art from each of these three artists.
“Last year was a great proof of concept for an art CSA in Memphis,” said ArtsMemphis President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse. “Now we’re taking things to the next level by engaging with artists of color from The CLTV, and including one-of-a-kind artwork as part of every single share.”
In addition to the work created for CSA collectors, the artists will contribute pieces to a public exhibition, entitled “Maintaining Place | Making Space.” It will run from October 6th to November 4th at Orange Mound Gallery (also known as “OMG”), 2230 Lamar Ave. The opening reception will take place on Friday, Oct. 6th at 6:00 p.m., and there will be an artist talk on Sunday, Oct. 15th at 2:00 p.m. Finally, there will be a pick-up party for CSA collectors, along with a closing reception, on Saturday, Nov. 3rd at 6:00 p.m.
The CLTV’s Executive Director, Victoria Jones, notes that the CSA model lines up well with her organization’s mission. “The CLTV is working to promote racial equity in the arts sector by highlighting our city’s talented artists of color. So there’s a natural fit with the CSA concept, which is all about connecting artists to the broader community and properly valuing the work they do.”
CSA shares can be purchased for $500 each on the ArtsMemphis website, but availability is limited to just 25 shares (sold on a first-come, first-served basis). Every shareholder will receive a piece of art from each of the three participating artists – compiled at random from the larger set of work produced for this project. Proceeds from the sale of shares will go toward commission fees for the participating artists, and toward ArtsMemphis’ ArtsAccelerator Grant Program, which provides $25,000 in annual funding for local artists.
Lawrence Matthews III creates work that casts new light on contemporary and historical events that have affected African Americans – from incidents of police brutality to poverty and blight. His pieces confront uncomfortable topics with the goal of creating dialogue and understanding. Matthews works primarily in paint, but he has also expanded into photography, musical performance, installation, and the use of found objects.
Matthew Thomas is a painter, printmaker, digital artist, and author, who was named to Huffington Post's list of “30 Black Contemporary Art Makers Under 40” in 2013. He has created work in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Canon Inc., and Red Bull, among other clients and sponsors. His paintings can be seen on Fox Network’s “Empire” and "The Exorcist,” and his film projects have been exhibited in Tokyo, Italy, Los Angeles and NYC.
Felicia Wheeler, Felicia Wheeler is a native of Memphis, TN where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Memphis. Wheeler has been a ceramicist for five years and a glass and fiber artist for one. Wheeler's work has been exhibited in a host of juried shows including "Best of Memphis," juried by David Lusk. Her fiber work consists of large scale cross-stitches with quirky word play that address topics of pop-culture, social constructs, personal perceptions and life experiences.