collectors do not need a C.S.A. to find local talent, especially considering that the participating artists are published online. Because shareholders do not know what artwork they will receive, they have limited insight into whether it will match their interest or style, or if it will be easy to display. An interested collector could approach specific artists directly, removing the limitations and the uncertainties associated with receiving an art “harvest.” Perhaps most significantly, the manner in which Community Supported Art programs select and deliver art presents a model that is decidedly at odds with traditional collecting. Without the ability to select and evaluate art before taking it home, shareholders cede the curatorial aspects of acquiring art to the C.S.A.’s organizers, foregoing one of the most important parts of the collecting process. In seeking to appeal to as much of the public as possible, organizers generally try to present a broad spectrum of community artists and media. With 50 shareholders to please, a C.S.A. program may be inclined to select artists whose work is more decorative than deliberative. The result is that collectors are getting the art that is available rather than the art of their choosing. This might be good for filling wall space, but does little to hone a collector’s eye and vision. To be sure, connecting with and supporting local artists is a good thing. Community Supported Art programs harness the collective buying power of their shareholders to pay local artists for new work. It also introduces the artists to a receptive audience, opening the door for a more direct collecting relationship. And if, after buying a share, you get art that you don’t care for or can’t display? Well, maybe you don’t keep it. After all, receiving even one piece that you are proud to own is well worth the price of a C.S.A. share. Discovering a new local artist that you love? That’s worth a lot more. W.G. Beecher is an editor for Don’t Take Pictures.
Don’t Take Pictures is a biannual print, online & tablet-ready magazine that celebrates the creativity involved with the making of photograp...