Artful Inches in Escondido

Last week I got a note from Donna Meyer with a link to a YouTube video about a fund-raising project for local high school art students. It’s such a cool idea I wanted to share and asked Donna to tell us about the project and its genesis. The video is down at the end~~

Donna writes:

The Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery, one of only three non-profit Municipal galleries in California, has sponsored the Emerging Student Artists Exhibition for the last 15 years.  It gives local high school students an opportunity to create artworks that are showcased in a professional gallery setting.  Neither the schools nor students are charged for their participation, but since the gallery space still needs to be paid for, fundraising is done to pay for the expenses.  This is my fourth year coordinating the fundraising that pays for this show and because funding from the City was completely withdrawn this year, it has become increasingly crucial to find more and better ways to raise money.

A couple of months ago, I heard about this project from several different artists I know and, after discussions with Wendy Wilson, Executive Director of the Municipal Gallery, I decided to look into it seriously. I was very lucky that an artist I know not only participated in a project like this but knew the person who ran that project for the fabulous Brandon Gallery in Fallbrook, CA (about 30 miles from Escondido), who has been doing this for a few years. They generously shared some project details as well as some pros and cons. Without that information, it would have taken much more time to put it together so I am very grateful to them, and so that they could retain the name recognition they had worked hard for, we changed the name of the project from “Art by the Inch” to “Artful Inches,” which was also a way for us to begin our own tradition…something I would encourage in others who choose to do this project. MarinMOMA has done a similar project for the last four years and may be the ones who originated the idea…theirs is an astonishing 100′ long compared to our 30′. And I just heard that an organization in Reno did it recently [go here and scroll down]. It seems to be a growing phenomenon and for good reason. I would suggest that as a courtesy, galleries time their events so they don’t overlap with other similar local events.

I bought a roll of 140lb cold press watercolor paper from (42″ x 10 yds for only $40!) which I cut into two sections, a 24′ section was stapled to the wall and a 6′ section was put on tables for those who prefer to work horizontally rather than vertically. I ordered fast drying acrylic paints from NovaColor, though some artists brought their own favorite acrylics to use instead.  I also bought matte medium for our collage artists.  After covering the entire floor and the lower part of the wall in heavy paper to protect from drips, 17 artists came in for two weeks and donated their time and talent to cover all that paper with the wonderful artworks you see in the video.

On February 11, at the monthly 2nd Saturday Artists Reception, the artwork went up for sale. A prospective buyer chooses one of four sizes of mats (with only a 1″ border so we could use it as a straight edge to draw a line around the outside) and, holding it up to the artwork, moves it around, exploring the artwork to see what looks appealing to them in the mat opening. Once they choose their section, a volunteer will temporarily mark the area with post its and write on a piece of paper the amount owed for the square inches they have chosen at $1 per square inch. That customer then pays and bring us the receipt at which time we mark off their area permanently with a marker and put a border of 3/4″ blue tape around it, writing their name on the tape so no one else can claim that spot. The next people can choose any part of the project to buy except what has a blue tape border so the sooner they come in, the more choice they have. The public will have about a month to come in to pick out and buy their section, the deadline being four days prior to the next artists’ reception. During that four days, we cut the individual pieces for the people to pick up. The Brandon Gallery did very well with their project and I am keeping my fingers crossed for us!

I have to admit that with all the work that has gone into putting the project together (despite the information we received and the research I did online) and the nervousness about the unknown results, the thing I am feeling the most anxious about is actually taking a scissors and cutting out the marked areas!  I have watched it develop into quite a wonderful thing and some of us were secretly hoping that someone with lots of money would walk into the gallery at the beginning of the sale and say they want the whole thing.  Now THAT would have quite a wow factor, wouldn’t it???

And the potential doesn’t end with cutting out those individual artworks. We will use the leftovers to make cards, bookmarks, ATC’s and maybe even paper jewelry. Interestingly, I have already had people say that can’t wait until they can buy something made from those leftovers!  

This is a fabulous project and if others can benefit from reading about it, so much the better. Paying it forward is a win-win for everyone! Needless to say, there is already talk about the best time to do it again.


Thanks, Donna!


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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