Free-Range Organic Visual Arts

As the New York Times reports on the advent of CSAs for local art and artists, Gracy Howard notes with irony the simultaneous announcement of “Amazon Art,” which would appear to be the globalist techno-enemy of locally-raised artwork.  While the Times story focuses on the tension between local and global in the art community, Howard’s point is about the experiential:

Perhaps because of its visual medium, art seems even more valuable as an experiential purchase than as an online buy. Books contain a built-in story and experience. Paintings, however, have more inferred meaning and depth. Art buyers who meet the artist or watch their art being created will have a deeper connection to the work. Neither purchasing method is “right” or “wrong” – but art aficionados must determine the importance of artistic experience and relationship in their purchasing decisions.

It’s worth adding, however, what neither do: that the development of Amazon Art and a more organized, CSA-like local art movement are both entirely unsurprising because they’re logical extensions of the earlier business models.

This may be more obvious in Amazon’s case than for local art, but minor, part-time, and completely unknown artists already rely on local events and institutions for selling their works.  How many times have you looked up in a coffee-shop or restaurant and noticed that the paintings or photographs hanging on the wall are labeled with a price-tag and phone number?  In addition to traveling artists or shop representatives, local art fairs draw in local artists.  If you’re fortunate enough in an area with a gallery, museum, or library that takes an interest in the life of its surrounding community, you’ll probably find, from time to time, the works of local and regional artists on display.

Because of all this, I don’t expect Amazon Art and the local art movement to be in significant competition.  One day, perhaps, a few of the local artists will be able to move their works in a global, online marketplace.  But until then, and for the remainder, local art sales and events will continue to find new ways to grow and allow for the growth and development of the host of minor and local artists whose existence helps sustain major artists—both by replenishing the world of art, and by sustaining a diverse and widespread interest in art.

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Post image by russavia, via Wikimedia Commons

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