By Bernie Petit
For Ben Thorman (left) and Mark Milazzo, the sale of Community Supported Art shares means more than an online contest to secure limited edition works of art by nine talented local artists.
When shares of the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) spring 2015 Community Supported Art (CSA) program go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, there will be a race to snap up shares before they’re all gone.
Only 50 are available and last fall’s sold out in record time.
But for Mark Milazzo and Ben Thorman, the sale of CSA shares means more than an online contest to secure limited edition works of art by nine talented local artists.
It marks the renewal of a friendly rivalry that dates back to before ASC’s inaugural CSA season in the fall of 2013.
That’s according to Katherine Mooring, ASC’s senior vice president of program and services. Milazzo’s and Thorman’s spouses, Brandy and Sandi, respectively, told her their husbands were jockeying for position well before the first shares went on sale.
“I still think the competition was egged on by Katherine,” Thorman said. “She said, ‘You may or may not care, but if you do, here’s the exact time you registered and here’s when Mark registered.’”
Regardless of how it started, the longtime friends have since competed about nearly every aspect of the CSA program, from who buys the first share to who puts their new artworks up in their homes first.
Last fall, Thorman purchased his CSA share 15 seconds before Milazzo. So Milazzo showed up 45 minutes early at the first of three pick-up events where patrons can mix and mingle with the artists.
“To me, it was like, if you’re going to be me on the draw, then I’m going to beat you here,” Milazzo said.
Competition aside (they don’t keep score anyway), the friends share an appreciation of art and enjoy engaging with CSA artists at pick-up events to learn about the artworks they’re taking home. Both have sought out the artists afterwards, visiting their studios to purchase additional pieces.
“I always want to try to understand what the artists were trying to do and you have that opportunity because you can talk to the artist right there,” Thorman said. “We instantly have one thought of what a piece is and you talk to the artist and they’re like, well, this is where I was going.”
The interaction with local artists makes the pick-up events special, they said. Held at cultural and/or culinary venues, the exclusive events feature the mystery of opening shares, hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and entertainment.
A mixed media painting by Rebecca Haworth that Milazzo received as a fall 2013 Community Supported Art shareholder.
“It’s kind of like Christmas for three months,” Milazzo said. “Once a month you’re getting presents and you don’t know what’s in the bag or what’s in the wrapping paper or the box, so when you open it you’re pleasantly surprised.”
It makes for a great series of art-filled events that bring the two friends together.
“As much as we have our busy lives and go in different directions,” Thorman said, “we know that with the picks, we’re going to get together at least three times and be able to catch up.”
And compete for CSA bragging rights.
Don’t Miss Getting Your Share!
ASC will begin selling member shares of its spring 2015 Community Supported Art (CSA) program at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, at ArtsandScience.org. Shares are $500 and only 50 will be available. Nine local artists have been commissioned to create limited edition artwork specifically for the program. Their work will be boxed and distributed as shares to CSA shareholders at pick-up events in March, April and May. Shareholders will get three artworks at each event and will have one artwork by each artist by the end of the season.
In addition to the opportunity to learn about the processes and creative practices of the selected artists, meet and mingle with other arts patrons, explore a variety of creative disciplines and support artists in the evolution of their careers.
The program artists, selected by a jury of local arts professionals, are:
Emily Andress – paintings
Natalie Bork – fused glass
Janet Burgess – visual 3D
Leigh Anne Carter – paintings
Micah Cash – photography
John Dearing – wearable art, cyanotype images
Marcee Musgrove – mixed media
Lauren Puckett – stained glass
Tim Sheaffer – pottery