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Generous Art

Now two can benefit from one sale of art

By Robert Faires, Fri., June 24, 2011

Jennifer Chenoweth
Jennifer Chenoweth

You're a visual artist who gets asked to donate your work for nonprofit fundraisers. Of course, you want to help out, and you do, but this being Austin, you aren't raking in so much scratch from your creative efforts that you can do this for every community organization that comes knocking on your studio door. So what do you do? Sacrifice your own well-being for that of the community and donate your work (even if it means the art you sweat blood over is likely to sell for a lot less than it's worth), or put your own needs first by putting your art in the marketplace and pocketing the proceeds?

Those used to be pretty much the only options for artists. But with this week's debut of Generous Art, an online gallery, Austin's visual artists now have a way for the sale of their work to benefit both the community and themselves.

When an artwork is purchased through the site, 40% of the proceeds go to the artist and 40% goes to a nonprofit designated by the buyer. The remainder supports Generous Art itself. The venture is the brainchild of Fisterra Studio's Jennifer Chenoweth, who felt keenly the dilemma of donating her art for others or selling it for herself and thought "there must be a better way to give it away." Her project isn't intended to compete with private galleries or deprive nonprofits of art for all those live and silent auctions; it's just an alternative, she says, "for people who want their purchases to support community, and it creates a buying experience that feels right."

Participation is free for artists and nonprofits. At present, the list of community organizations on the site includes Art Alliance Austin, Austin Child Guidance Center, Austin Creative Alliance, Austin School of Film, Big Medium, Cancer Connection, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, Communities in Schools of Central Texas, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Meals on Wheels and More, Open Door Preschools, SafePlace, SIMS Foundation, and Sustainable Food Center. Chenoweth stresses, however, that buyers may select any nonprofit or charity-based organization to receive the donation from their purchase.

As for whose art you can purchase, Chenoweth says that as the curator for Generous Art, she wanted to show work that she was excited about. And the artists she's recruited initially are exciting for any local art lover: Sydney Yeager, Jennifer Balkan, Virginia Fleck, Stella Alesi, Jade Walker, Wells Mason, Andrea Pramuk, Carol Hayman, Annie Simpson, L. Renee Nunez, Emily Moores, and Chenoweth herself, naturally. If you don't know their work, take a spin around www.generousart.org, and prepare to be impressed.

Or better yet, drop by the launch of Generous Art on Sunday, June 26, 10am-2pm, at Fisterra Studio, 1200 E. Second. Chenoweth is offering Turbo Mimosas by Paula's Texas Spirits, bread and pastries by Texas French Bread, and her very own vegan and all-natural chicken northern New Mexican posole, with the Redd Volkaert Trio providing music. And of course, she'll have plenty of artwork to sell that will help the community, the artists, and Generous Art. As she says, "it's a win-win-win."

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