Friday, July 26, 2013

You, too, can be a Medici (and cheaply, at the ASC)

Commissioning a symphony or a three-act play may not be on your bucket list, but don't let that stop you from being an old-fashioned patron of the arts. For a mere $400, you can have an artist create something personally for you -- in fact, nine artists.

Here's how the deal works: You buy a "share" in a new Arts & Science Council program called Community Supported Art. Shares go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the ASC website, and only 50 shares will be sold. (Get full details here:

Nine local artists have been given grants of $1750 each to create 50 works apiece; those will be distributed to shareholders at pick-up events in September, October and November. So if you spend the $400, you're guaranteed nine works of art. They could be Japanese tea cups, small original paintings, archival photographic prints, wire sculptures, fused glass -- who knows?

Most patrons, of course, have some idea what to expect when they pay for art in advance. A millionaire industrialist who commissions a self-portrait may end up looking like a tycoon or a toad, but he's not going to be handed a landscape or a still-life painting of fruit.

Yet the uncertainty factor makes this idea even more appealing to me. If I got even three winners out of the nine, I'd have my money's worth. And if I didn't immediately like one of these pieces, I could donate it to an auction for charity, give it to someone who admired it or just leave it around long enough to see if it would grow on me. (Works of art can do that.)

And there's always something cool about contributing to an artist's livelihood. Most of us can't buy a piano concerto or a mural, but many of us can commit enough dough to send each of these artists to the grocery store for one week. Patrons come in all sizes.