Midtown: Community

Shop local, spread art

As spring settles in, Artspace invites us to embrace art. Local art.

This year, Artspace, a nonprofit visual arts center celebrating its 25th year of making art accessible to our community, will host its fourth annual Shop & Hops and an inaugural Shop Artspace. It’s all to raise money for its arts education scholarship and community outreach programs that engage budding artists in making art.

“We’ve expanded, morphed our previous years’ concept into a three-day event,” said Mary Poole, Artspace’s executive director. “It’s all a part of an initiative to really get our Artspace message to the community and support the artists – and encourage folks to shop locally.”

Certainly, we can help. And we can be creative, too – before the weekend-long event even begins.

Artspace has been getting the word out about Shop & Hops by distributing coasters to Raleigh restaurants and bars. There, patrons are asked to doodle and draw on the coasters while we eat, drink and hang out. We can leave the coaster with the restaurant manager or take it to Artspace ourselves.

“I’ve loved this concept …, but we’ve had it on the back burner, waiting for the appropriate time to launch it,” Poole said. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“It really speaks to the Artspace mission of tapping into everyone’s creativity from within and inspiring creative energy throughout the community.”

The coasters will be installed in a mural in Artspace during the three-day event. All coaster artists will be entered in a drawing for an Artspace Gift basket, complete with a free family membership, Artspace T-shirt/apron, prints and note cards from Artspace artists.

So far, of the 2,500 coasters already delivered to restaurants, 200 have been returned, Artspace’s Rae Marie Czuhai said.

She quipped: “I don’t know if it’s coffee-induced creativity that’s creating the coasters, or beer-induced.”

Weekend of events

The three-day spring fundraiser begins from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Artspace, 201 E. Davie St., with Shop & Hops. The evening will feature beer-tasting and 50-60 pieces of art – acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry and hand-dyed silk scarves – ranging from $50 to $250. Each of the artists is affiliated with Artspace or teaches there. Tickets for the event, which include two drinks, are $10 for Artspace members and $15 for the public.

It’s the fourth year for Shop & Hops, but for the first time, Artspace also urges us to shop again at Artspace and other local art studios from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday as part of Shop Artspace. So far, 32 studios featuring the work of 40 artists will participate in the free, two-day fundraising finale.

Just think of Artspace as a shopping destination in this season of gift-giving – for graduations and weddings as well as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, said Czuhai, the development director at Artspace.

“We have phenomenal works to give as presents,” she said.

Poole said she envisions Shop & Hops and Shop Artspace as the perfect venues, too, for new and young collectors to get started or add to their collections. “We want to encourage everyone to think of visual arts when they’re gift-giving,” she added.

Helping young artists

Proceeds from some art sales at both events will go toward 50 need-based, full-day scholarships – valued at $250 each – for youth to participate in Artspace classes offered in its Summer Arts Program. Scholarship recipients will receive morning and evening classes for a week. Artspace teaches more than 600 young people each summer.

Students attend Artspace on the recommendation of teachers who recognize art abilities and interest yet realize that the students wouldn’t otherwise have access to explore either outside of school, Czuhai said.

Proceeds also will help fund the Artspace Outreach Program, which partners with local social service agencies to guide students through the conceptualization and creation of a large-scale collaborative art project.

Helping Artspace with its business of helping our artists – young and older – is worth our time, money and creativity.