In an article on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times‘ Art and Design section, Seed Awardee, Community-Supported Art Pittsburgh (CSAPGH) was touted as one of a brilliant new movement of bringing local art to the public. Until last year, the “A” in CSA used to stand for “agriculture”, and the group’s focus was on sourcing local farmed goods to members who bought shares in the organization. Though it now deals in art rather than agriculture, the system has remained the same, allowing members an opportunity to experience art from locally-sourced contemporary artists. It’s a concept that is catching on all over the country.
PITTSBURGH — For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University here, bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.
Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (“Too much kale,” she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. It was no good for eating, but it was just as homegrown and sustainable as what she used to get: contemporary art, fresh out of local studios.
“It’s kind of like Christmas in the middle of July,” said Ms. Johnstone, who had just gone through her bag to see what her $350 share had bought. The answer was a Surrealistic aluminum sculpture (of a pig’s jawbone, by William Kofmehl III), a print (a deadpan image appropriated from a lawn-care book, by Kim Beck) and a ceramic piece (partly about slavery, by Alexi Morrissey).
Without even having to change the abbreviation, the C.S.A. idea has fully made the leap from agriculture to art. After the first program started four years ago in Minnesota, demonstrating that the concept worked just as well for art lovers as for locavores, community-supported art programs are popping up all over the country: in Pittsburgh, now in its first year; Miami; Brooklyn; Lincoln, Neb.; Fargo, N.D.