Why own (art) when you can rent

Rebeca Oliveira

Courtesy Photo
This painting by JP resident Dan Nolan is just one of 100 by various artists through ARTchives.

Having great, original art on the walls just got a lot easier and more affordable, thanks to Boston ARTchives, created by Jamaica Plain resident Dan Nolan.

Somewhere between an art library and community-supported artistry, Boston ARTchives allow subscribers to choose a piece from 100 available works and take it home. At the end of four months, all pieces are returned, and the subscriber gets to choose again. The collection pieces vary from oil paintings to drawings to ceramics.

“Anyone can buy a bunch of prints and put them up around their apartment. Buying original works of art is not in my budget. ARTchives lets me put original paintings on my walls while supporting artists in my neighborhood,” subscriber Michael Sullivan, a JP resident, told the Gazette.

ARTchives began with the spirit of community-supported agriculture/farm sharing (CSA)—supporting local industry, fostering a sense of community, sharing risk—and incorporates product-sharing models to create new streams of revenue for artists. Subscribers make supporting local art a reality and enjoy a rotating exhibit of that art in their homes. Artists receive a portion of subscription fees and sale prices.

“It occurred to me that there was no reason we couldn’t take elements of each and build a model that would benefit both local artists and members of their communities who are interested in experiencing local art without the prohibitive expenses and storage concerns of being a collector,” Nolan told the Gazette.

Of the ten artists currently on the ARTchives line-up, David Sturtevant and Jeremy Ogusky, along with Nolan, are JP-based—but ARTchives features the works of artists from all over Boston and neighboring areas.

“Because we’re a local endeavor, we’re able to avoid expensive shipping costs and keep the pricing reasonable for subscribers,” Nolan said.

For $250 a year, a subscriber gets three pieces a year, for four months each, before returning them to the collection. If that’s just not enough, $400 allows a subscriber to borrow two pieces at a time.

“There is something to appeal to everyone. Before ARTchives, I would go to JP Open Studios and browse paintings by local artists but was never in a position to take one home. Now I can take home one or two, and in a few months switch them out for one or two more,” Sullivan said.

Damage insurance is also available for subscribers who are not comfortable with ARTchives’s “you-break-it-you-buy-it” model.

“We’re trying to keep subscription fees as low as possible. Considering how much people pay a year on cable, movies, shows, and other cultural entertainment, we hope people will find the cost of a subscription to Boston ARTchives, which provides the opportunity to enjoy high quality local art every day on one’s walls, reasonable,” Nolan said.

“I would love to see this catch on and see ARTchives popping up all over the place, getting art off the studio shelves and onto the community’s walls,” Nolan added.

Potential subscribers can get full details on Boston ARTchives’ website, bostonartchives.com.

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