Let’s not sugarcoat it: Times are tough for artists, both financially and emotionally. With art and performance venues still closed, even though restrictions on the stay-at-home order are beginning to lift, those who make a living with their art are searching for ways to share their work and support themselves.
Locally, members of our tight-knit arts community have stepped up to promote each other and offer resources, and one local initiative that began even before the coronavirus crisis has proven more important than ever.
SOLA Gallery, which stands for Support Our Local Arts, is an online space run by photographer and gallery owner Abigail Kreuser and her mother Pat Ellis. The pair came up with the idea about two years ago, when Kreuser heard from local artists about how hard it was to find ways to exhibit their work. Most galleries, including Kreuser’s own, are often booked out for a full year or more.
“Granted, it is not a physical exhibit,” Kreuser says of SOLA, “but we feel it gives artists an opportunity that may not have a website, an outlet to show their work. Even if they do have a website, they can put a few pieces on SOLA and then they have two places people can find their work.”
But SOLA offers much more than just exposure. Not only do artists receive the majority of proceeds for every piece sold on SOLA, but 10 percent of each sale goes into a fund that will eventually be used to offer micro-grants to local artists.
“Once we raise enough funds we will implement how the program/application process will look,” Kreuser says. In the meantime, she’s promoting SOLA through Peak Radar’s virtual First Friday landing page, plus monthly virtual studio tours. The first, featuring an interview with sculptor Wendy Mike, is already live online.
Thirty artists are currently featured on the SOLA website, and Kreuser hopes to add more each week; there are already a dozen waiting in the wings. “It is just a matter of them getting images and inventory to me,” she says.
And for art patrons who want to put their money into the hyper-local art economy, SOLA offers ample opportunity. “All artists we currently represent are local or at one time were local,” Kreuser says, adding that only one artist has since moved from the area. “Each artist has had a working relationship with Kreuser Gallery and knows how passionate I am about doing whatever I can to support the arts in our community.”