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Cambridge Arts Creative Marketplace’s ‘Small Cultural Startup’

Peter McCarthy in his Cambridge Studio, June 7, 2018.
Peter McCarthy in his Cambridge Studio, June 7, 2018. By Courtesy of Cambridge Arts Community Supported Art
By Alexandra C. Kim, Contributing Writer

Tucked into the Cambridge Community Television building in the heart of Central Square lies a hidden exhibition showcasing the work of local artists: “Sprouts: Fresh Work from Cambridge Art’s Community Supported Art Program.” As a part of the Cambridge Arts Creative Marketplace, the idea behind the program is similar to a farm share: One can support local artists just as one supports local farmers and agriculture. A jury of curators and other art professionals have selected just a small handful of artists to showcase their work in this space. In addition to showcasing the artists’ work and paying them to make art to sell, the program provides training in business and other career advancing opportunities.

Magali Maiza, the program director at Cambridge Arts explained the idea behind the Cambridge Arts Creative Marketplace was an intention to create and maintain a visual art scene that seems alive. Maiza said she understands the “realistic pressure” of being an artist in a city such as Cambridge.

“Part of our work at the Cambridge Art Council is to support the artists. This is really the core of the program,” she said. Now in its third year running, this exhibition has helped over 20 local artists get on their feet. Magali said she sees the program as a “small cultural startup.” Not only does this exhibition provide a platform for these local artists to sell their work, the training and programming propels these artists to continue creating. Though the Sprouts Exhibition only occupies a small physical space, there is a larger meaning and vision behind it.

The exhibition dedicates a small space for the work of each of the seven artists. There is a vast array of mediums and ideas, ranging from photography to watercolor to monotype print to glass work. Cory Shea, a digital artist, displays her experimental ceramic tiles adjacent to her digital images. Some artists, like Leah Pillsbury, instead produced sketches and monotype prints of figures on the beach. Other artists, like Emily Cobb, created a series of playful watercolors that are meant to be assembled in a folding book. Artist Susan Murie works with cyanotype prints on cotton and linen paper, and Xian Ho displays a woodblock painting of decaying raspberries and blackberries.

In addition to displaying their art, each artist provided a short statement and answered two questions: Why have they joined the Community Supported Art Program? What is behind their Community Supported Art Project? One artist, Jessica Caponigro, describes herself as an interdisciplinary artist who displays a work of digital photography as well as a performance ephemera piece at the exhibition. She wrote about how much she appreciates the accessibility of the Community Arts Program on a caption hung by her work at the show.

“Accessibility and the idea that art should be for everyone, not just the very wealthy or very privileged, is at the core of everything,” she wrote.

For artist Peter McCarthy, being a part of the Sprouts exhibition has offered remarkable opportunities for his career as an artist. McCarthy primarily focuses on glass making, and he said he is continually experimenting with this medium.

“I wanted to become more serious with my art as a profession and the program has been wonderful to help me do that,” McCarthy said. He says being a part of this program has been guiding and pushing his art on this business aspect of artmaking as well.

“In terms of marketing, in terms of figuring out how something is a good product, what the marketplace looks like, it has given me some real tools both for that marketing but also some physical tools, like here at the CCTV, the ability to use their photography equipment,” McCarthy said.

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