Community-Supported Art: New Orleans Arts Org Brings a Locavore Model to Collecting
Is art ready for its locavore moment? The Drop, a new project from New Orleans non-profit Pelican Bomb, is pioneering a buy-it-local policy for contemporary art with a subscription-based series of editions from Louisiana artists, available to collectors at a variety of levels and price ranges.
Amanda Brinkman and Cameron Shaw are co-founders of both The Drop and Pelican Bomb. In a conversation with ARTINFO, they explained that the project originated in seeing how hard it was for New Orleans artists to find support for their work. “Post-Katrina, New Orleans is in a state of flux and is still re-establishing itself,” Brinkman said. “Coming from the perspective of the arts, there is some infrastructure lacking that is still needed in order for the city to thrive.”
Similar to a farming CSA (community-supported agriculture) system in which subscribers pay a fee to pick up freshly harvested, locally grown produce on a weekly basis, The Drop will commission works from three local artists every two months, curating a rotating group of artists and overseeing the production and distribution of the pieces. Each artist will be given a $2,000 stipend and a $500 budget to fabricate the work.
When release time rolls around, The Drop will host pick-up parties for subscribers in New Orleans and ship packages out to non-local collectors. There are three levels of subscription to choose from: the first level costs $80 per release, and will get the buyer one of the three pieces of art (buyers don’t get to choose which they receive, though the commissioned artists will be announced before each release). Level two, at $150, nets two of the three, and the highest level, $200, pays for all three works, for a grand total of 18 original pieces of art at $1,200 per year.
The CSA-style model is meant to reinforce an artistic community, creating a solid network between artists, viewers, collectors, and fans. Brinkman and Shaw are attempting to “connect people in New Orleans with work made in New Orleans” and show an audience not necessarily accustomed to contemporary art that “art can be a part of daily life, just like music and food,” they added.
What committed subscribers receive, aside from a reinvigorated art scene, are unorthodox pieces from local artists, who will often be stretching their practices to contribute to The Drop. One of the artists participating in the first round, Dave Greber, is known as a media and installation artist, but his subscription contribution will take on a more portable form. The surprise is part of the appeal. As in a CSA, Brinkman and Shaw said, “You don’t know if you’re going to get kale or kohlrabi, and you learn to cook what you get. We want to think about that for art as well.”