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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

A CSA, But For Art: Montreal's Partage Connects Artists & Collectors

Guy l'Heureux
Marigold Santos is one of the artists featured in Partage's collection this year. This piece, from 2011, is called "Secret Signals."

Many are familiar with the CSA model: You purchase shares and receive fresh produce grown in local soil, and you get to meet the farmer who plants it. A group in Montreal has taken that agriculture model of the CSA and replaced the agriculture with art.

It’s called Partage and it replaces the farmer with a curator and crops with local artists and their creations. Karen Lampcov, founder of Partage Montreal, joined VPR to talk about the program, which is in its first year.

On the mission of community supported art

“We tried to stay as close to the farm model as possible, because the agricultural CSA has been around for so long and it seems to be a model that works really well, so we really try to mimic that in the way that we put together our program.

“Just like with the agriculture CSA, it’s to support local, emerging and mid-career artists and create a direct relationship between people who are interested in collecting art and artists who are making art.

“We thought if we built the same model using art we would be able to create also long-term relationships between collectors and artists.”

On what Partage does to the relationship between buyer and artist

“I’ve had experiences when I was studying where there were young artists who were doing really exciting work and I had an opportunity to buy their work when they were first starting out, and I was really interested in what those people were doing later on in their career. So I think the idea is to create a long-term relationship between collectors and artists. And for artists, I think sometimes it’s difficult for them to have their work in galleries and they will do a whole collection of work and it will be sitting in a gallery for as long as their show is up, and hopefully they will sell it, but they won’t know if they are going to sell it.”

Credit Caroline Boileau
Caroline Boileau is one of the artists featured in this year's Partage collection. She focuses on the body and health, which can be seen in this 2014 piece "Du vent dans les oreilles, de l'eau dans les poumons."

“In this situation, the artists receive a stipend in advance. They are doing a private collection for this group, for the people who have bought subscriptions, so they know their work has sold and they will have the opportunity to meet all of the people who have bought the art.”

“The artists are all local [from Montreal], just like our vegetables are local from our CSA farmer.”

On the curator for Partage

“First, we’ve chosen a professional curator, Rhonda Meier. She has come up with a curatorial vision for this collection and she has chosen six artists who will be creating collections for Partage … who she feels will produce a really interesting collection for this group of collectors. Many of the collectors, or subscribers, are first time collectors, so the idea is to make this an interesting and easy entry into collecting.”

The yearly cost to subscribe

“For this season, the subscription is $360 and we’ve priced it so all of the people who have put this together are volunteers, so really the majority of the money is going directly to the artist and the curator.”

Response to their first year

“It’s been fabulous. I have to say, there were emails going around amongst all the people on the board and we were just so excited … it’s been really great.”

“The artists are just so excited to have that direct connection with the consumers, or the collectors."

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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