Previous CSA PGH event at the Warhol museum. Courtesy of CDCP.

Pittsburgh culture lovers have until the end of this week to purchase a share of our local art scene.

Aug. 24 is the deadline to buy into this year’s Community Supported Art initiative (officially known as CSA PGH) from Casey Droege Cultural Productions (CDCP). Founded in 2013 by Droege and several other local artists, the program is modeled after community-supported agriculture programs.

With those CSAs, participants buy shares to receive boxes of produce which may include unexpected fruits or vegetables they’ve never tried before. In the case of CSA PGH, buying a share gets you a one-time gift of a mystery box featuring compact works from local artists and makers.

“Like a farm CSA, we want it to be a surprise,” Droege tells NEXTpittsburgh. “You don’t know what you’re getting until you pick up your box.”

This year, CDCP commissioned six local artists to each create 20 pieces of limited-edition art, which will be split among 30 boxes. The 10 full shares ($600 each) include a piece from each artist, while 20 half-shares ($350) each contain three pieces of art.

The featured makers are Alexandra Lakin, Atiya Jones, Darrin Milliner, Jamie Earnest, Matthew Van Asselt and Soren Lundi.

“We really like their work,” says Droege, “and think that they have some promising careers ahead of them.”

Droege and her team based the CSA PGH program off of a similar initiative developed by the Minneapolis-based organization Springboard for the Arts. She says this unique business model can help fuel a city’s growing arts scene.

“Artists get a chance to get paid for their work up front, which is nice, and they’re also building a collector base,” says Droege. At the same time, “shareholders are getting a chance to collect art at a really affordable price. They’re getting a chance to meet the artists and build relationships with these people.”

An exhibition featuring works from every past iteration of CSA PGH is on display at CDCP’s gallery in Wilkinsburg. Shareholders for the current round can see it when they pick up their boxes at the CSA launch party this Saturday from 6 to 8 pm.

The exact contents of the boxes remains a closely guarded secret. Some of the artists are accustomed to working on a much larger scale (one of Atiya Jones’s most recent projects was creating dozens of artworks for the TRYP hotel, including a large mural), so it will be interesting to see how they approach these commissions.

While keeping the details under wraps, Droege says painter Jamie Earnest rose to the spatial challenges in a particularly fascinating manner.

“We like to think we give our artists a chance to experiment a bit more and try out something new,” says Droege. “And Jamie really took advantage of that.”

The team at CDCP shared several sneak peek closeups of the artworks with NEXTpittsburgh to let you guess what they might be. Enjoy puzzling over the images below:

A closeup of one of Jamie Earnest’s works. Photo by Porter Loves Creative.
A closeup of one of Jamie Earnest’s works. Photo by Porter Loves Creative.
A closeup of one of Atiya Jones’ works. Photo by Porter Loves Creative.
A closeup of one of Atiya Jones’ works. Photo by Porter Loves Creative.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.